It may not be as bad a minefield as second hand cars, but the tech market still has its fair share of Del Boy type practices. Here’s our top ten list of thing to look out for before parting with you hard earned for a brand new tech toy.
Shed a lot of light on the subject
If you’ve ever wondered why that brand new tellybox looked super bright instore but a little lack lustre in your lounge, ambient light levels could be the culprit. Unscrupulous store owners boost the in shop lighting so they can then whack up the brightness levels and hide imperfections like poor black performance.
Disk space swindle
The box says it’s a 400GB hard drive but boot it up and there’s only 372GB to play with – where did the other 28GB go? Sales maths. Manufacturers count 1GB as 1,000,000,000 bytes (1000 x 1000 x 1000). Computers are binary, so instead see 1GB as 1,073,741,824 (1024 x 1024 x 1024). The difference is the phantom GBs.
Space to spare
Even once you’ve accounted for the different mathematical approaches to calculating disk space, the remainder isn’t all useable. You may be paying for a 16GB iPhone, but the OS and apps will wipe a good 700MB off that total before you’ve even hooked it up to iTunes and put a single track on it.
Cables not included
It used to be printers that came with everything you needed bar an actual cable to hook them up to your PC. Shop for a Blu-ray player nowadays and it’s more than likely that you won’t find an HDMI cable in the box.
A digital connection is a digital connection, right? Not if you talk to your local store sales rep. Instead of spending a fiver on an HDMI cable, they’ll invariably try an steer you towards the premium ones they stock, usually at around ten times the price.
Even higher definition
There’s no disputing there’s more data in a 1080p high def signal than a 1080i one, but unless you’re shopping for a telly as big as your wall, only plan to sit within touching distance or have the peepers of a fighter pilot, chances are you won’t see the benefit of the extra pixels on offer.
Fix up, look sharp
A faster mind and a fitter body are the vague promises of brain enhancers and fitness workout games. But remember, they’re games first and foremost. Until there are men in white coats to certify their effectiveness, you’re better off just treating them as entertainment.
HD camcorder pixel counts
Manufacturers wouldn’t dare try and sell a camcorder these days without an HD sticker on the box. But dig deeper and you’ll find some are squishing down a 1,920×1,080 image into just 1,440x,1080 pixels which is short of a Full HD claim. You can only shoot family memories once so the higher the res, the better.
Sticking GPS in a device is only half the solution – without maps you’ll still get lost. Manufacturers like to tout satnav capabilities on the box, but if you only get a 14 day trial before the maps run out you’ll have to splash out more later down the line.
Shop owners clearly don’t think much of the products they sell, as they’re only too happy to sell you an extended warranty once the standard one year is up. If the salesman is so sure it’ll break, you should probably ask if you should be buying it in the first place.