Save Money By Buying Last Year's Gadgets

The evolutionary cycle of gadgetry is fast enough now that you can score some great deals on last year’s products, which are perfectly fine for all but the most technologically literate (or obsessed) people in your life. A perfect example: the first generation Zune, which can be found for as low as $80, has a bigger screen than a non-Touch iPod, and a 30 gigabyte capacity. Yes, it’s also got lots of drawbacks. But that’s why it’s $80, and for the average consumer who just wants a decent mp3 and movie player, it does the job nicely.

If you’re willing to commit to one format or the other (although we keep saying don’t!), Amazon is now selling both Blu-ray and HD-DVD players for $300 or less, with special offers that let you add 5 to 10 movies for free.

“The Best Gadgets of 2006” [Slate]
(Photo: unblessed_scalar)


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  1. jaydez says:

    Black Friday was good to me. I got a Toshiba HD-A30 HD DVD player for $99.99 with a mail in rebate for 5 free movies and 2 free in the box. Each DVD retails for $25, so that’s $175 in free movies from a $100 player. I think immediate gratification was better than waiting… now if Christmas (sorry “holliday”) would get here quicker I can finally use it.

  2. Michael Belisle says:

    The Wii is last year’s gadget.

  3. darkclawsofchaos says:

    Works two ways actually, some products improve and get cheaper, like videogame consoles and HD players, and then sometimes last years stuff is a better deal as the progressin of the current year doesn’t really warrant the higher price tag like MP3 players and some HDTVs

  4. Toof_75_75 says:

    I’m just now throwing away a piece of equipment exactly like the one in the picture from my college’s old electronics lab.

  5. G-Dog says:

    I’ve made a religion of buying last years stuff. You can always buy last years top of the line for the same price as this years budget line. Outside of PC video cards for gaming, it’s almost always smart to do this.

    On a side note, the Zune has gone from poop to platinum.
    If CNet is to be believed, you can upgrade the firmware of the original Zune and give it all the features of the new model. It’s not a hack either, it’s official MS code.

  6. saruyama says:

    “Yes, its [the Zune] also got lots of drawbacks.”

    Uh, really? Like what? I have a Zune and have used an iPod and don’t understand the crap the Zune gets beyond the obvious Apple fanboi/anti-Microsoft posturing. The Zune is a nice player that is, frankly, a steal at $80. Zune owners have no reason to hang their heads in shame.

  7. @saruyama: I agree, and think the interface is actually better than the iPod. (Heresy!) But the Zune’s broken wifi “capabilities” are terrible, and if you’ve already become entrenched in the iPod ecosystem, god help you, you’ll have to make some adjustments to switch over or integrate a Zune into your household.

    That’s all I meant.

  8. Spyrojoe says:

    @Chris Walters, Saruyama:

    Being an iPod kind of guy, I’ll even admit to the Zune being a damn good product, but I still think the iPod has a better interface. (Sans coverflow, of course.)

  9. AimeeGee says:

    This is why my family is getting their XBox 360 THIS year. Why the Wii still isn’t available a year after its release (not that I’d want one… hello, Halo 3!) is sickening.

  10. Kaneohe7 says:

    Maybe it is just me but I can’t seem to find a 30GB Zune for $80 on google products as listed in the article or other sites such as pricegrabber.

  11. invaderzim says:

    KANEOHE7 –

    It was not that hard to get a Zune in the $80-$100 range a month ago. It was a one time ‘refurb(and/or)gen 1 blowout’ that lasted a couple of weeks.

    The problem now is that sites like Circuit City still show the Zune on ‘price grabber type’ sites for $99… problem is that when you check the inventory they don’t have them in stock… anywhere.

  12. zentec says:

    Microsoft is hoping you can’t buy a Zune. It’ll give the appearance that this thing has really “caught on”.

    The Zune is a good music player, and one of the few Microsoft products that when I looked at it, I thought “okay, who did Microsoft pay to design this for them”. It’s nice.

  13. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    It’s just you. You have to do a price search and throw in 30gb in the seach box. It comes up with 2.


  14. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    For certain products, I’ll buy last year’s top of the line model. But for some newer products, manufacturers and retailers will offer discounts and rebates because they really want to push the newer stuff on to the market. So the price difference between old and new aren’t that much.

    As for the Zune.. no way. The 1st Generation is like walking around with a brick in your pocket. The new generation is really nice. It’s thinner and lighter, and has higher capacity. Plus the flash units are super nice. And the new touchpad/button control is neat.

    Apple ipod.. I think the previous model is a definite yes. I’ve been hearing reports that the current ipod “classic” has some mediocre quality sound. The new nano is sort of ridiculous. They should have called it the fatty. Unless you want the coverflow and video feature, I say get the 2nd generation nano.

  15. madanthony says:


    I think there is one drawback about the Zune – the god-aweful software that is shipped with.

    I bought one of the $85 Brown Zunes from Woot a while back. I’ve previously owned 3 ipods (10 gig firewire, original shuffle, and an original Nano) and a Creative Zen Microphoto. The Zune interface isn’t quite as good as the iPod, but other than that hardware-wise it’s great.

    But I had a ton of trouble getting installed on my PC – it literally took me several hours of uninstalls, reinstalls, trying the live installer, trying the install off the CD, trying different USB ports, before I finally got my PC to see the damn thing.

    I haven’t tried the new 2.0 software, which is supposed to be much better, so it may not be an issue anymore. But I know I’m not the only person who had trouble with the original software – there were quite a few posts on woot’s forum with similar issues when they sold the Zune.

  16. forgottenpassword says:

    I have an ipod mini that I bought when the newer model of ipod was hot. After several years it is still working fine (and still has the original battery… i have to recharge it every day or so).

    Also… one thing about running out & buying the newest thing… is that you run a bigger risk of that newer thing having a serious flaw in it. Best to buy it when all the flaws have been discovered by the impulsive “gotta have the latest thing” consumers & the manufacturer has had time to adress & correct these flaws.

  17. czarandy says:

    The 2.0 software works much better, although they removed some functionality (the rating system is slightly worse, not that I use it anyway). The podcast supports works well.

    I like the Zune much more than the iPod. Not only is it cheaper (although mine was free), but it doesn’t have the stupid wheel. Wow I hate that thing. :)

  18. Riddar says:

    I have a first generation Zune, and it is love/hate. The software was a bit problematic, I’ll admit… the auto-updater does not check whether your OS is 64- or 32-bit, so my software was absolutely dead and beyond repair when I tried to update my zune. That is a beyond stupid mistake which casts a new level of shame on any testing they claim to have done. First level tech support is also terrible. I was told that I need to update Vista to service pack 2 by a… well-meaning person who is in the wrong job.

    Other than the glitches though, which I suppose are a first generation thing, I love my Zune30. A little bulky, but that doesn’t bother me, and ultra-functional at a low price. Just bought another as a gift.

    If they can clean up the glitches and maybe incorporate a user-replaceable battery, I really would consider them better than what apple is offering, no question about it.

  19. theblackdog says:

    Sirius Satellite Radio is deeply discounting their Stiletto 10’s and 100’s right now because they just released the Stiletto 2, which is the next generation.