10 gadgets you shouldn't buy, yet
But holding out for the second version of a gadget can mean lower prices, fewer bugs and more advancements and features than the current version. There's also the factor of buying something at the end of its shelf life, requiring a buyer to factor in the savings benefit versus spending more to get the latest features. It all depends on how much you want to spend -- and if the coolness factor of the latest gadget is worth the extra price.
"If you're looking for a good deal, you can definitely get a good deal on old stuff," said Anthony Scarsella, 30, chief gadget officer at Gazelle, a website that buys and sells used electronics.
Here are 10 electronic gadgets you shouldn't buy, at least not yet:
1. Apple iPad. This product is so new and so popular that we wouldn't blame you if you bought one now. But Retrevo lists it as a product that is selling at a price higher than its capabilities. That could be because it lumps it in with laptop computers, which the iPad isn't meant to be used for.
The iPad is set to be released internationally, so don't expect a revamped American version to come out anytime soon. Another reason to put off buying an iPad is the chance to shop around for other slate computers being produced by other computer makers. Something may emerge that has more features than the iPad and is cheaper.
"If you're not ready to adopt the iPad, I would hold out until we see these new releases," Gazelle's Scarsella said of upcoming tablets.
Although with more than 1 million iPads sold, you might just want to jump on the Apple bandwagon now and enjoy the ride. Or wait for the second generation, which will hopefully have a camera, USB ports and Flash support.
Apple usually releases new generation gadgets a year after being introduced, Scarsella said, although it doesn't set firm dates too early so that it won't hurt sales of existing products. "It's more of a rumor mill, than a definite date, in order not to hurt current sales," he told WalletPop.
2. Apple iPhone. Apple doesn't announce new releases too far in advance, but the new iPhone 4 was announced at the June 7 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the keynote address. As proof that now isn't a good time to buy an iPhone, Walmart is selling the 16GB 3GS iPhone for $97, saving about $100 but having to lock in to a two-year contract with AT&T. Apple's 4G iPhone is expected to be unveiled in June, which should drop the price for older iPhones. The 32GB version of the iPhone 3GS is $299, a price that may drop when the new one comes out.
The MacRumors Buyers Guide, which tracks the best time to buy any Apple product based on news, rumors, time since last refresh and more, rates the iPhone as, "Don't Buy - Updates soon." The last iPhone upgrade was 351 days and counting, or almost double the 178 days on average that the iPhone is updated.
3. 3-D TV. As with most new technology, 3-D TV screens are so new that expect it to take a few years to work the bugs out and for prices to drop if they're mass-produced and the public clamors for them. Sony, Samsung and Mitsubishi are launching their consumer line of 3D ready, flat-screen televisions. Panasonic came out with its first 3-D TV in March, selling for $2,899.99. If you've bought a new flat-screen or other TV in the past few years, it's unlikely you're going to want to shell out that much for a 3-D TV.
High-definition TV is becoming more popular by the day with more HD channels being added, so until 3-D channels are added en masse and 3-D glasses become easier to look through, the benefits of buying a 3-D TV are few.
4. Amazon's Kindle. If you want to read an electronic book on anything other than the iPad, Amazon's Kindle is the cheapest alternative to buying electronic books at low prices, as WalletPop has reported. And at $259, the Kindle is half as much as the iPad but with only the ability to read books, and in black and white only. So for another $250 or so, you could have an iPad, and if you wait for the next version of the iPad, it could have many more features.
For $199, Panadigital is coming out with a color e-reader that won't do as much as the iPad but is a much cheaper alternative for reading books. Amazon is also competing with Sony and Barnes & Noble for e-Readers, but the iPad may be its biggest competition for book readers who want more than just the ability to read.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently told shareholders that he plans to keep the Kindle focused on reading, and won't turn it into a multipurpose tablet device. Having a focused device, such as a Kindle or camera that only takes photos and isn't used as a phone, is what consumers want, Bezos said. A black and white screen may have its advantages to reading a book, but I'll bet more people will want to read books on computer tablets than e-readers.
5. Gaming systems Xbox 360 and Sony PS3. Both are coming out with motion control devices in the fall to make them more like the Nintendo Wii, Scarsella said. The devices can be used with existing gaming systems, but a bundled price could lead to a price drop for the current systems for players who don't want the motion sensors.
The Sony PS3 will have the PlayStation Move, mimicking the player's movements, like the Wii does. Sony has said it will bundle the Move, a game and the PlayStation Eye, a webcam that tracks the controller, which could lead to lower prices just before fall for the gaming system without the bundle.
The price of an Xnox 360 could also drop with a bundle in the fall when its Project Natal is expected to be introduced. Like the Wii and the Move, it will move with the player and will cost $150 when it comes out in October, Scarsella said.
6. Blu-ray player. Like many gadgets that are rolled out in time for Christmas, expect new 3-D Blu-ray players to hit the market in the fall. That will cause the price of current Blu-ray players to drop, Scarsella said, a drop that has continued as Blu-ray players have become more popular. With expected prices of $250 for 3-D Blu-ray players, expect to see regular Blu-ray players at $100, he said. And just because the 3-D players are for sale doesn't mean there will be many 3-D movies for sale to watch on them, as software often lags behind hardware, he said.
7. Phones. New cell phones seemed to be released every other month, giving consumers an overabundance of choices. But with two-year service agreements common, buying a new cell phone every few months isn't a smart buy. We could go on for days about all of the upcoming new phone releases, so this is just a sampling of what's out there. As with the $97 iPhone at Walmart, you might as well spend a little more to get a better product. Here are a few worth Scarsella recommends waiting for to get the latest technology:
- Sprint'sHTC Evo is the first 4G phone, set for release June 4. It has a 4.3-inch screen, 8 megapixel camera, and can connect to an HDTV to watch HDTV movies, among other features. This phone is an upgrade from Sprint's HTC Hero and the Samsung Moment, so hold off on buying those phones.
- Motorola'sDroid Shadow replaces the Motorola Droid, with the Shadow adding an 8mp camera and 720p video.
- Verizon'sLG Ally replaces the Verizon LG enV and enV touch. The new phone will have qwerty, 3.2-inch touchscreen, 600 mhz processor, and android, among other features.
- T-Mobile's MyTouch 3G Slide has a 5 megapixel camera and full qwerty, so hold off on the T-Mobile HTC MyTouch.
- The Samsung Galaxy S is scheduled for summer release, bringing a 4-inch screen and 720 pixel video, making the unlocked HTC Nesus One a phone to skip.
The light laptop, the MacBook Air, was last released on June 8, 2009, making the one-year anniversary date likely for an update. The Mac Pro was updated more than a year ago, in March 2009, so an update is overdue.
9. LCD flat screen TV. Like the 3-D TVs and 3-D Blu-ray players listed above, the new power of 3-D is pushing LCD flat screen TVs to fall as TV makers expect 3-D TVs to take over the market. Older model LCD flat screen TVs should be discounted in the third quarter of 2010, Scarsella said. They've been heavily discounted already for the past year, and the newer models with Internet applications built in to them will drive the prices of older models down.
10. Garmin GPS. The Garmin Nuvi series of GPS locators are some of the most popular around, making driving somewhere new as easy as punching in an address. But hold off buying one until after new models are released July 15, Scarsella recommends. Some of the Garmin 3700 series -- the 3750, 3760 and 3790 -- are set to be updated. The 3790, for example, is set to add the ability to turn text into speech and offer improved traffic reports.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.