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.
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."
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.
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.
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.