Cutting Back On Features When Gadget Shopping

The next time you go shopping for a camera, cell phone, video recorder, or other gadget, you can save money by deciding what features you really need, and moving down the model line instead of up to the most feature-packed gizmo, writes SmartMoney. For example, “Only 31% of cellphone owners actually use their phone to take pictures, while only 15% browse the Internet, and less than 10% listen to music, download games or watch videos.”

For cellphones:

As for features, you’ll have a tough time finding a basic phone that doesn’t have at least a color screen and a camera. If you’re determined to keep it simple, don’t buy a phone that is pared down beyond that point, warns Gartenberg. Manufacturers and carriers both know that added features pay the bills, so they don’t invest much money in the design or quality of their most basic phones.

For video cameras:

If you want to record your baby’s first steps with a brand new digital camcorder, don’t waste your money on high-definition versions, advises Brian Cooley, editor at large for electronics review site CNET. “The prices are high. They tend to struggle more to get a good image. Plus, the video is dicey to edit,” he says. It doesn’t help that most HD camcorders are compatible with either Blu-ray or HD DVD standards, but not both. That could make for a pricey — and quickly obsolete — investment should you buy the standard that goes the way of Betamax.

For digital cameras, something in the 5 to 7 MP range should suffice for most people, and you should skip the fancy-schmancy features like “face recognition” and focus on a retractable zoom lens and fast processor, then “consider using the cash you’ll save for a how-to photography book instead of trading up a model.”

“High-Tech Features You Can Do Without” [SmartMoney]