On Buying Gadgets

If you’re looking to buy a gadget it will never, ever be a bad thing to know as much as possible about the thing before you shell out for it (especially if you’re looking at tossing a couple hundred at it or more). And face facts: you cannot rely on store salespeople to be properly knowledgeable about what you’re after. They’re not there to be your personal font of knowledge, there are there to sell you the item. Period.

The easiest way to learn about a particular product you want is to go Googling about for reviews. That’s so easy, in fact, that I won’t say anything else about it. But there’s an extremely useful and important other step to take that’s less obvious.

Read its manual. Seriously. You can use Google to find manuals for all sorts of stuff (cars, not so much), especially on a gadget’s tech support site. And that’s a brilliant way to make sure it does what you want it to do. If a manufacturer has a feature they want to sell, it’ll be in the manual. If it’s not in the manual and you expect it to be, it can’t do it. And that’s that.

It will also give you an inside view into what the tech support is like. A good manual can be important, and it shows they went to some effort. A crappy manual means they’re not spending so much on it, and that should be a red flag for you.

The more you know!