GOOD STUFF FOR LESS

You don’t have to buy a new tablet or computer to get a good one, any more than you have to buy a brand new car. “Refurbished” machines are items returned to the store or the manufacturer, but they’re not lemons.

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UP THE AMAZON RIVER

Our Amazon Prime membership costs us $79 a year and the price will be going up soon. This gives us free shipping and two-day delivery on almost anything we buy there. We can also get hundreds of free movies (but not the newest ones) streamed to our computers, phones or TVs.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

Boundless.com is being sued by textbook publishers for offering cut-rate and cut-down versions online.  They cover 21 subjects and all the books are $20, which is quite a bargain compared to $100-200 for many printed textbooks. Here’s how it works: Instead of an actual textbook, Boundless summarizes all of the key information, chapter by chapter into a condensed version about 90 percent shorter. You’ll miss the author’s style, but you’ll get what you need to know, complete with flashcards, quizzes, and reminders. Their own research shows Boundless users study far less than other students and get better results.

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APPLE UNDERCUTS APPLE

Here are two things we learned from the site DealNews.com:

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GETTING IT FOR LESS

All about “refurbs,” as they’re called -– short for refurbished:

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STORE TICKETS AND COUPONS ON YOUR PHONE

“Passbook” on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch lets you electronically store boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, and loyalty cards. It’s very high-tech. If you step into a Starbucks, for example, your Starbucks card automatically appears on the phone. Make sure you’ve got the latest operating system: iOS 6. If you have an Android phone, there’s PassWallet. We couldn’t figure it out but maybe you can. Not quite ready for prime time.

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TRADING IN YOUR SMART PHONE FOR CASH

SmartphoneTradeIn.com gives you cash for your old smartphone. It’s also a good indicator of what’s popular.

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TRADING IN AN OLD IPAD

October set a record for iPad trade-ins, according to SellCell.com, a site where you can trade in yours. People are trading in the third generation iPad to get the iPad Mini or fourth-generation iPad. They typically get about $350 for the iPad 3, which sold for $699. The iPad 2, which brought in $371 before the Mini was announced, now typically goes for less than $200. Android tablet

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WE BUY A NEW COMPUTER AND PAY TOO MUCH

We just bought a new laptop, the HP Pavilion g7 notebook PC, for $650 ($600 after the rebate. It weighs 6.6 pounds, has a beautiful 17-inch screen, a 640 gigabyte hard drive, six gigabytes of RAM and a DVD drive. So what’s the kick? Nothing, except it would have been $100 cheaper to buy it from the Staples web site than buying it from a Staples store. What?

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POWERFUL COMPUTERS COST LESS THAN SMARTPHONE

We’re seeing one of those tidal shifts in the market. The computer is fading in importance — and perhaps most importantly for manufacturers, in profitability as well.

You can buy powerful computers now for less than the price of a smart-phone. They’re also cheaper than high-end tablets like the iPad and its competitors. We get regular mailings of
newsprint catalogs form tech retailers like Micro Center, Fry’s and Tiger Direct and they all have stunning deals. It’s not because we’re columnists, everybody gets them. Some of these catalog
outfits also have retail stores, though they’re not found everywhere.

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