The New Web Challengers

Shopping, Internet Style

Snap: Most Web search engines analyze a site's content and links to determine its relevance to whatever term you're trying to find information about. Snap is different because it bases its results on other variables, such as the percentage of users who did something on the site--for example, purchased an item or subscribed to a newsletter. What makes Snap truly useful is its sorting: I entered "sony camcorder" and found the best spot for more info about the camera, as well as where other searchers went most often for product ratings (see FIGURE 8

Figure 8: The Snap search engine delivers your search results in sortable tables.
). The service was in beta when I looked at it, so the number of users was small, as were the statistics and site ratings, but it still got me to the information I needed. At the top of Snap's screen is a box listing keywords related to your search term--for example, "ring tones" if you searched on cell phones. Or enter a popular term such as "digital camera," and you'll see a product comparison chart loaded with detailed specs above the standard search results. You can even sort the table by category, or add and remove categories.

Cairo: Even if you prefer shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, you'll benefit by using Cairo to check out the local sales before you hop in the car. This comparison-shopping site zeroes in on local deals by zip code. Browse by products on sale, by retailer, or by brand; or if you're shopping for something specific, Cairo will send you an e-mail the moment it goes on sale.

LiveDeal: If you have something big to sell, such as a washing machine or a pool table, EBay may not be your best bet, considering the shipping hassles. LiveDeal is designed for buying and selling locally. Listings are free, provided that you don't want to highlight your listing, use the site's Buy Now feature, or add some other extra. A word of warning: The site is so slow you'll think you're back on dial-up. Oh, you're still on dial-up? Forget I said anything.

Internet bargains: I found two great Web sites for grab-'em-when-they're-hot Internet deals: Ben's Bargain Center and DealCatcher. I like their no-nonsense, get-right-to-business attitude. The deals on both sites are truly super. I once picked up 50 CD-R discs for just the $2 shipping fee. And to make my bargain hunting even easier, I take advantage of the RSS feeds these sites offer.

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