An economy in the dumps has taught many consumers to live without the extras. And that would seem to include the latest in gadgets: New HDTVs, MP3 players, and game consoles can cost a bundle. But some of the best in fresh tech not only comes cheap; it can even save cash over time. Here's how savvy buyers can cut their budget and still brag that they're on the cutting edge:
TRIM THE CABLE.
One of the best ways to save on tech is to trim your monthly cable subscription, which often exceeds
A variety of Blu-ray players, flat-panel TVs, and other boxes such as Apple TV also can stream Web video to the living room, "but Roku is the simplest out there right now," says
Cut the cable completely.
Chilvers lives in a condo that doesn't have good over-the-air reception. Otherwise, he says, he would have taken the next step of cutting out cable altogether. Digital broadcasts now offer crystal-clear video and audio with an old-fashioned antenna, including what videophiles claim is an HDTV signal that's sharper than cable or satellite. Cutting the digital tier, or basic cable, altogether can mean the loss of live news and sports that aren't yet available online. But it can also save consumers another
Slash the phone bill.
Many consumers are hesitant to replace a landline with Internet phone service. But home users can cut at least
A Web-based service called Jajah connects a landline phone with another landline or cellphone for inexpensive calls arranged through jajah.com. With no contract to sign and no gear to buy, it's an easy way to get the benefits of Internet calling. Or plug a standard corded or cordless phone into magicJack, which then plugs into a PC. MagicJack costs
Consider prepaid cellular.
Once the domain of customers with bad credit, prepaid wireless plans can save
Major carriers also offer prepaid services.
One from AT&T offers free unlimited minutes for a
Coverage might be more spotty than with conventional plans, so check the maps. And availability of smart phones is rare.
Save the PC.
Before you throw out your old computer for something faster, consider upgrading the RAM in your old PC. That's where a computer loads programs that a user has called up for work. Upgrading RAM is one of the easiest boosts you can give a PC, with perhaps the biggest bang for the buck. Spending
Start with the memory guides at crucial.com and kingston.com. Or simply haul the box into a
Microsoft is readying a new version of its ubiquitous Office suite of software, which will cost
Float in the cloud.
Online programs from the likes of Zoho or Google Docs make it easy for you to work from any computer. Even your photos can be edited at sites like shutterfly.com, picasa.com, or picnik.com. So when replacing a laptop, consider a new "ultrathin," which can cost
You can save another
Available at Amazon.com:
Ease the Paper Chase by Going Digital
Most consumers have experienced at least a taste of going digital. Online banking, electronic statements, and online bill paying have eased the paper chase. And consumers use less dead-tree paper, while saving on postage, envelopes, and printing costs. Here is a quick guide for those who want to take the digital dive and save time and money in the process
Suddenly Instant Photos Are Everywhere
It seemed that instant cameras were dying, yet another analog victim in a digital world. When Polaroid announced that it would quit making the film that fueled its instant cameras, it appeared to be the final nail in the coffin. Then -- in what seems an instant -- instant printing has roared back.
Technology Opens Doors for Investors
In an era in which the Internet is steadily uprooting traditional business models, David-versus-Goliath stories are becoming increasingly common. Meanwhile, the traditional investment and fund players have responded with advances of their own. Here's a look at some technologies that have emerged in this climate
Apple's iPad: 5 Reasons Why the Apple Tablet Will Flop
Few revelations from Apple had generated more anticipation than Apple's recent iPad product announcement. Though nobody knew exactly what the iPad would be, reports widely agrees that the device was to be a new type of portable computer akin to a tablet.
Apple has announced its latest -- and what some say -- greatest creation yet. The iPad is the biggest news since the launch of the iPhone. The iPad is going to be aggressively priced so Apple can get as many iPads into as many hands as quickly as possible. Most of the news reported was positive, but there are still some unanswered questions. Here's a look at what the iPad has to offer ...
An Amazon Kindle for Every Student
Forget better standards, merit pay for teachers, or rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of America's aging schools. No, if we really want to fix the U.S. education system, we must start with Kindles. Thomas Z. Freedman, the primary author of the paper, writes that having a "Kindle in every backpack" (the title of the proposal) is not just an educational gimmick but could improve education quality and save money
The War on the Book
In Ashburnham, Massachusetts, a prep school has just given up on books. The headmaster of Cushing Academy, one James Tracy, doesn't see any need for them. Not any more. Anybody who's anybody or wants to be now has an iPhone with apps, a Kindle or whatever the Next Big Thing turns out to transiently be. Who needs books?
Ultimate HDTV HD Television Buying Guide
We studied the hundreds of HDTV flat-panel television sets that plastered walls at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and have distilled a quick guide to today's key options
What's New in Consumer Technology and Electronics
The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is smaller than in recent years, but it's still where the world takes stock of what's coming in consumer electornics and technology. And obscure acronyms -- the valued shorthand of geekdom -- seem especially prevalent as new tehcnologies roll out. Here are five new technologies and getting a big push this year ...
CES 2010: Peripheral Vision
Kyle Orland, Crispy Gamer
Many video gaming hardware makers were showing off their new wares at CES 2010 in Vegas each year. Here are the most noteworthy of the selection shown at the show earlier this month.
Mobile Tech That Stole the Decade
If the '90s were the Internet era, maybe the '00s were the mobile decade. Technology packed ever more power into ever smaller devices, putting portable electronics at the leading edge of innovation this decade. With freedom of movement in mind, here are the top tech innovations of 2000-2009 ...
The Biggest Technology Flops of the Decade
The new millennium was born amid an Internet bubble that soon burst, not a good omen for the technology industry. The sector rallied, however, and continued to produce a remarkable run of new gadgets. But it had more than its share of flops, as well. Here are the 10 biggest debacles of the decade
(c) 2010 U.S. News & World Report