PostPoints tip: Things to avoid buying in stores: cables and flash-memory storage
This should be a familiar topic to longtime readers, but it doesn't hurt to offer a reminder this time of year: Physical stores often charge a premium on common electronics accessories. The three I'd like to point out this year are cables--especially the HDMI audio/video cables that link HDTVs and most video sources--USB flash drives and flash-memory storage cards.
Cables continue to be one of the worst purchases to make on the way out of the store; shop online, whether at Amazon or specialty stores like Monoprice.com. But with flash storage, whether in the form of cards or USB drives--which shouldn't be called drives, technically speaking, because they don't contain a real hard drive's moving parts--the math gets a little more complicated. At low capacities, from 1 gigabyte up to maybe 4 GB, the retail markup is negligible; flash storage costs so little in those capacities that you should feel pretty safe buying wherever you are. (If you're a tech journalist, the price for 1 or 2 GB drives is already at zero, considering how often publicists hand out press kits on flash drives stamped with company logos.) But once you look at 8, 16 or 32 GB flash drives, SD Cards or microSD Cards, online merchants once again offer substantial savings.
Meanwhile, in case you missed it:
* Help File relayed a reader's account of having Web searches redirected to sketchy sites after somebody took advantage of weak security on his wireless router, then noted a welcome if overdue upgrade to Google Calendar's time-zone support.
| December 13, 2010; 6:21 AM ET
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