Buy this, not that: Alternatives for 15 trendy products

By Ben Taylor, Graphiq
Best Trending Tech Gifts for the Holiday

Whether you're buying a smartphone, camera, tablet or television, it's tempting to get the trendiest, most popular brand or model. And for the most part, you'll be making a decent choice -- in tech, the wisdom of the crowd is often pretty good.

It's just not always the very best choice.

With this in mind, SpecOut set out to do the research for you. We rounded up 15 popular tech products -- the sort of brands some shoppers are tempted to buy on a whim -- then found a better alternative for each one. In particular, we focused on the following factors:

Cost: Compared to the popular product, is there a lesser-known alternative of similar quality at a lower price point?
Quality: Compared to the popular product, is there a competing product at the same price point of significantly higher quality?
Key feature(s): Does the popular product lack a key feature, or alternatively, does the popular product force you to buy a pricey, mostly worthless additional feature?

Before we begin, note that we actually like several of the popular products on this list -- in each case, we've simply found a better alternative when factoring in all of the above variables.

#1. High-End Camera

Buy this
Vizio M65-C1 ($1,200)

Not that
A $4,000 Samsung TV, like the UE65JU70000T ($4,299)

In today's TV market, 60 inches is the new cutoff between "mostly affordable" and "eye-poppingly expensive." But don't assume that a 65-inch set has to set you back $4,000.

Try the Vizio M65-C1, a 4K* TV at a reasonable price point of $1,200. It doesn't have 3D capabilities like its Samsung counterpart, but three dimensions is more "passing fad" than "critical feature." Save the money.

*4K is a popular shorthand for describing super high-resolution TVs. If you want to get technical, the name comes from the approximate number of horizontal pixels on a 3,840x2,160 TV -- traditionally the base-level resolution required to count as "4K."

#7. Mid-Sized Family Room or Gaming TV

Buy this
Kindle Paperwhite ($110)

Not that
Kindle Fire HD ($150)

The Kindle Fire HD is a fine device: a 10-inch tablet with apps, games, smooth Amazon integration and a bright, colorful display. Meanwhile, the Kindle Paperwhite (2015) has no games, no apps and only a black-and-white screen designed solely for reading books. So why are we recommending the Paperwhite?

It turns out there's nothing quite like the Paperwhite, while there are plenty of tablets just like the Kindle Fire. For avid readers, the Paperwhite is the best option besides a physical book, and the Paperwhite technology really is easier on the eyes. Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire is nothing special compared to the iPads, Galaxies and Surfaces of the world. In other words, it's just another tablet.

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Buy this, not that: Alternatives for 15 trendy products

FitBit Charge HR

This thin, lightweight gadget keeps track of workouts, calories burned, steps – and even hours slept! The best part? All the info automatically syncs to your smartphone so you don't have to lift a finger.

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Amazon)

Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

This stainless steel, BPA-free water bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours - ideal for quenching your thirst after a long run. Plus, it comes in a variety of fun colors!

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Amazon)

Trip to a destination race

A destination race is the perfect excuse to go on a mini vacation. Check out TripAdvisor for the best deals on the hottest getaways!

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Getty)

Incline Fit High Density Memory Foam Yoga Mat

This high-density foam mat is exceptionally comfortable and provides extra support for sensitive areas like knees, hips, and hands. Plus, it comes in a variety of fun colors!

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Amazon)

BUY IT

Supergoop! 'Everyday' SPF 50 Sunscreen

Every athlete knows outdoor workouts take a major toll on one's skin. Supergoop's oil-free, water-resistant sunscreen will keep any champion's skin looking incredibly flawless!

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Supergoop!)

Skullcandy XTfree In-Ear Sport Wireless Earbuds

These hip and stylish earbuds by Skullcandy have all the features you need to add some fun to your workout. Sweat resistant, 6-hour battery life and bluetooth -- what more could you want?

(Photo: Amazon)

Adidas Tubular Defiant Lace Up Sneakers

This streetwise silhouette is perfect for the runner who sees her streets as a runway. With a sock-like fit and a smooth stride, you will get all the support you need while looking great. 

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Bloomingdales) 

BUY IT

HPE Gravity Oak Bra & White Oak Leggings

This HPE oak printed set provide support and comfort. The leggings are designed with mesh panels for style and extra cooling.

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Bandier)

BUY IT

Nike 'Power Legendary' High Rise Tights

A curve-hugging fit from waist to hem furthers the sporty appeal of high-rise tights cut from sweat-wicking fabric so you can stay comfortable all workout long.

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Nordstrom)

BUY IT

Large Convertible Gym Bag

A super cute functional bag  designed and crafted to be an ideal carrying companion. Sized to fit a laptop computer, change of clothes, and additional accessories. You have the option of wearing it as a tote or cross body, and easily transforms a backpack, compact, or yoga bag.

Plus, check out our shop for more great products!

(Photo: Bandier)

BUY IT
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More gift ideas:
Holiday gifts that give back
10 seriously cool mugs that make great holiday gifts
The best gifts for Star Wars fans

And for even more ideas, head to our new shop!

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