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Before you buy

A checklist to help decide what features you're looking for before you shop.

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Technology is moving fast and can be expensive so it makes sense to work out your requirements and do some research online and then in-store before you buy.

Many products have the same or similar features, so think about whether you need the latest laptop, smart phone, e-book reader, tablet etc—or whether fewer items or upgrades can meet your needs.

With the facts you'll be able to work out whether you really need a new product to do the job—and if you do decide to buy, you can feel confident you're purchasing equipment that will give you optimal experience with features you will use and that pass the test of time.

Here are our key tips:

  • Consider whether any of your existing equipment can be refurbished or upgraded. This can save money and valuable resources while delivering the performance you need.
  • Make a list of features that are important to you—for example: size, audio and visual quality, and connectivity. Look for products that meet your requirements.
  • Consider how your products will work together to provide the functions you need—as well as the range of technologies you may already have access to within your household and workplace.
  • Take energy use into account. While the lowest price tag might seem the cheapest way to go, the running costs over 10 years can add up to much more than you realise.
  • Consider reading the reviews on technology sites to find the innovators who produce energy-efficient products and features.
  • Look for quality items that will last and think about how you will dispose of them at the end of their life. Why waste money, time and resources to buy inferior products that will end up as e-waste in landfill in a couple of years?
  • Check that any technology you're buying can be adapted to new technologies in the foreseeable future. Whether they're high quality or low cost, there is little value in purchasing products that will become incompatible or redundant before too long.
  • Once you've short-listed your potential purchases, you can calculate the annual running cost to narrow down your selection. The most energy-efficient products have the lowest input watts. The energy savings may not seem much at first, but with the increasing number of electronic goods, your energy bills are likely to become more expensive over time.
  • Look for products with low standby consumption. Check the manufacturer's standby power information—ideally you are looking for products that use half a watt or less in standby mode. These products are up to 90 per cent more efficient than other models.
  • If products have similar features and energy output and you're tossing up which one to buy—choose the product that uses less standby power.

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