Beyond Google

Shopping Steals & Deals

Illustration by Jim Ludke
Illustration: Jim Ludtke
When you shop online, you want it all: trusted merchants, help finding precisely what you want, and low prices--at supersonic speed. These sites deliver.

Comparison shopping: Shopping.com (formerly known as DealTime.com and currently the owner of Epinions.com) combines product price comparisons with review information, such as store and product ratings, from Epinions.com. You can compare products, prices, and store reviews in a flash, and then make your purchase. Enter your zip code if you would like the site to include shipping costs in its price comparison calculations. Shopping.com's product finder tool allows you to browse by price or brand.

BizRate (see FIGURE 8

Figure 8: Get comparison shopping information--along with store ratings from past customers--at BizRate.
) is proud of its lightning-fast results, even displaying how long your search took. But the big bonus here is the site's store ratings: BizRate gleans its ratings from customer feedback via surveys of online purchasers. Click a particular product, and you'll quickly see the number of reviews, an overall recommendation, and the product's pros and cons, as listed by consumers. Checking these results is much faster than trolling the Epinions.com site. In the past, however, PC World reviewers have noted a seemingly disproportionate number of positive product reviews at BizRate, so you may have to take the opinions you see there with the proverbial grain of salt.

NexTag provides quick price comparisons similar to BizRate's, but covers fewer stores. PriceGrabber, which you'll find at PriceGrabber.com and on partner sites such as PCWorld.com's Product Finder, supplies store ratings, but from fewer consumers and for fewer stores than BizRate. You can save yourself time when shopping for bargains by signing up to be notified via e-mail when the price drops below the threshold you specify; Nextag.com provides a similar service, but Shopping.com and BizRate do not.

Froogle.com, Google's shopping site, displays prices but not store or product ratings. Nevertheless, Froogle's advanced search option can be helpful when you want a particular product, don't know what its name is, but do know a word likely to appear in the product description.

MySimon.com has lots of resource guides and suggestions for technology gifts. Overstock.com is a great place to browse for clothing or gift bargains without first knowing what you want.

Complaint sites: Complaints.com just doesn't cut it for me--it has too few reviews, and the content sometimes feels as dated as the PCs I've relegated to my attic. Instead, try ConsumerReview.com or its sibling sites like PCPhotoReview.com for current product and store ratings, and first-person takes on the products.

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