10 Tech Accessories You're Paying Too Much For

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Some buyers don't realize that many big-ticket items, such as HDTVs, don't come with everything they need in the box. Even worse, retailers often price these minor--yet completely necessary--accessories in the stratosphere.

With that in mind, here's our list of 10 tech accessories you're paying too much for (it's also our list of things that you should never have had to buy separately in the first place), and some thoughts on how you can still get all of the extras you require without breaking the bank.

You know those "free printer" offers you sometimes encounter when you buy a new computer? "That's pretty cool," you might think--until you realize that there's no stupid USB cord to connect the "free" printer to your not-at-all-free PC.

No, instead you have to buy a cable separately. And some stores will try to stick you for $20 to $30 for the pleasure.

But you're smarter than that. Instead of taking the bait, do a Web search for "cheap USB cables" when you get home. Basic USB printer cables are all over the Web at ridiculously cheap prices--as low as $2 or $3 with free shipping. These are perfectly usable cables, minus the flashy packaging.

Let’s be clear here: Antivirus software is a must for your new computer. We're not suggesting that you skimp on security.

Sure, you can buy a boxed version and install it yourself--with good results. But you can also find plenty of great free antivirus software options. I'm a big believer in AVG's free version, as well as Microsoft Security Essentials. For more alternatives, check out PCWorld's Top 5 Free Antivirus applications. Any of these packages is a good choice, easy to install and offering good coverage. Remember, if you decide later on that you want even fuller protection, you can always ante up for a paid-antivirus app then.

One caveat: Before you install your free antivirus application, be sure to uninstall any trial versions of antivirus products lurking on your new machine. If you fail to uninstall those demo versions, the two products could conflict with each other and slow your new computer's performance to a crawl.

So you think cell phones are pricey? Just try shopping for the useful accessories that go along with them--everything from cases and screen protectors to extra chargers. You'll be in for sticker shock, that's for sure. You'll also be surprised by how little actually ships with the phone--no cases, car chargers, or belt holsters.

It needn’t be that way, if you follow this one, simple rule: When you buy a new cell phone or smartphone, don't purchase all of the accessory bundles offered in the store. If you’re willing to wait a few days for those fancy baubles, you can save a bundle of cash by shopping online for accessories.

That means just saying no to $30 car chargers, $35 protective covers, and $50 cases, and seeking out lower-priced alternatives online from sources such as Accessory Geeks, CellPhoneShop, and Wireless Emporium. There you'll be able to save 50 percent or more on each item, often with free shipping. Not sure which case you want? Buy a couple and switch them up every few months.

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