The Print Shop: Top Sites for Bargain Seekers
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a compulsive bargain hunter. I love tracking down great deals on printers and other tech gear, both going into the holidays and throughout the year. A little extra effort scouring the Web can definitely reap rewards.
The following sites are invaluable tools in my arsenal of money-saving strategies.
For many printer bargain hunters, comparison shopping engines have become the first port of call. Services such as Shopzilla.com, Shopping.com, NextTag.com, and Yahoo! Shopping have dedicated printer categories. This lets you filter results by brand, price, or type, such as laser or multifunction inkjet (the links I've provided will take you to these sections).
The Best Buy charts and product reviews we compile at PCWorld.com also include links to the latest prices for each product, supplied by our pricing engine partner, PriceGrabber.com. We've also got a dedicated Printers & Accessories shopping section, which includes an Ink and Toner price finder. Both areas let you customize your results by manufacturer and model type.
Two more very worthwhile links--to informative PCWorld.com--stories before I move on. A few months ago, we surveyed more than 5000 readers to find the best places to buy tech gear. Our conclusions took prices, selection, sales help, and return policies into account.
I also recommend that those new to comparison shopping sites have a quick read through our recent report on protecting yourself when using them. As the story explains, some unscrupulous vendors can manage to worm their way into price comparison site listings. Knowing how these shopping engines work can help you avoid the bad apples.
If it's red-hot specials and the absolute latest in price drops that you're after, then bargain-listing sites are generally the best place to start. As a printer pundit, I'm a big fan of Ben's Bargains, Dealnews.com, and Tech Bargains, because each lets you view the latest deals by category, including printers (again, the links I've provided will take you to these sections).
My outright favorite bargain site right now: Boddit.com. Not only does it include a dedicated printer section, but its deal listings (searchable and with links to product reviews) are collected from a wide range of rival sites, including those I've mentioned and others such as Slickdeals.net, dealhack.com, and fatwallet.com. Now that's one-stop shopping!
Tip: Be sure to look for the coupon sections at these sites. Coupons or special codes can get you some great deals. Unfortunately, I haven't seen too many for printers in my Web travels.
Many Hands Make Light Work
In the same way that user-aggregated news sites such as Digg and Fark have changed the way many now get their daily news fix, the emerging phenomenon of social bargain-hunting could change how the switched-on shop. Digg itself has a dedicated Tech Deals area.
Currently, the only social bargain-hunting site with a printer section is the DealsPlus beta. It and other up-and-comers (such as Dealcritic, Deals.com, Dealplumber, and the beta of Modoshi, all allow users to sign in and vote the best deals into prominence. You don't even need to sign up if you only want to browse listings.
Another great site, Daddy-O Deals, takes a different tack by using forums, as opposed to user votes. It doesn't have a special printer area, but it gets loads of traffic that results in highly useful posts you can easily search.
If you're feeling really lost (or you're simply lazy), "Daddy-O" also has a useful Find Me a Deal forum. In a similar vein, nothing prevents you from using the Search With Guide option at a new search engine, Chacha.com, to get some free real-time, instant-messaging-style help in finding the best prices online.
Finally, retailers can (and do) offer some interesting product bargains on top-tier auction sites such as eBay and UBid. Some of these auction items are also listed on comparison or bargain shopping sites.
Just remember to shop smart. There's more to protecting yourself than simply checking the comments and ratings previous buyers have left for a merchant. See our guide to protecting yourself against auction credit fraud for more details.
Have a printer question or a comment? Let us know at PC World's Printer Forum (registration required).