Black Friday for Geeks

So what’s a geek to do but drool over the Black Friday discounts and beyond. But as with all things technical, it pays a little to wonder if it is time to buy or whether you should wait for the next product cycle. Here’s a quick low down on popular (for nerds) holiday items:

  1. A new PC? Yellow Light. Well, that’s a good question and the answer is that if you can wait, you will probably like the upcoming Broadwell chips better. That being said, Intel is adding about 5-10% to desktop performance, so it isn’t a bad time. Haswell is pretty decent and they have just refreshed the line in the summer. The main complexity is that Intel has so many gradations, you need a slide rule to figure out a good deal (which I haven’t done). Still if you want save 10% off a processor, it’s not a bad time to buy.

  2. A new monitor? Red light. This is a time of major transition. The 4K displays are just out (8MP of glory), but the next round is even more amazing. Dell and Apple have just shipped 5K displays (15 megapixels if you can imagine that) and these are going to ship next year. So wait if you want. A related issues is that DisplayPort 1.3 is just coming out in early 2015 and you need it to drive these 4K monitors at more than 30 hertz. If you are a gamers of course, I can’t imagine how much power a 15 megapixel monitor is going to take. Remember still amazing Hd monitors (1920×1080) are just 2 megapixels! That being said if you need a monitor now, the ASUS PB27Q isn’t a bad office monitor (2550 for $480) and the Benq PT3000 ($600 on sale now at Newegg) is astonishingly beautiful as a 32” monitor.

  3. A new phone? Green light. Well as usual Apple is managing the cycles well so the new iPhone 6 Plus (drool, drool) is not a bad buy right now and you are at the top of the cycle. The main reason to wait would be the rumored dual camera setup in the upcoming iPhone models, but the camera (and the battery) in the iPhone 6 are pretty amazing.

  4. A new camera? Red light. Well, the new announcements are coming so fast and the improvements are just incredible. The main thing to wait for is 4K video recording which is becoming standard and Sony is rumored to be announcing a 50Mp full frame pro camera very shortly. That could be the turning point for prosumers ;-0 Also, GoPro is just switching to 4k, so you probably want to wait to see all the 4k offerings as video is a new battleground for cameras.

  5. More storage? Yellow light. You can never have enough disk and SSDs are really amazing right now. While it isn’t a bad time, if you can you should wait. The new Intel DC P3500 is not quite shipping, but promises incredible performance in the new NVMe format. Five time less latency for you geeks and pricing is decent $600 for 512GB. If you can’t wait, the new Samsung 850 Pro uses a vertical NAND technology and isn’t bad. It’s a premium part at $320 for 512GB (wait did I just say that, I can’t believe how prices have come down).

REI Deals

Hey, if you are buying lots of gear, now’s the time to do a few things. First, if you know an REI member, if you sign up this month for $20 fee, you get a 20% off for a non-sale item. So if you’ve been eyeing something that is $100, now’s the time. Also “REI Visa”:http://reivisa.com let’s you save 5% on every non-sale REI purchase. It is also free and gives you a 1% rebate on other purchases. I’ve been using frequent flier credit cards, but if you have big dollar items, this can make some sense.

Authentic Military Watches

For a long time, I had an authentic military issue watch, but then lost it somehow. Getting a Eco-drive reminded me how much I liked that old wathc. “Military-Watches.net”:http://www.military-watches.net/ is a great source for authentic military timepieces. “Marathon”:http://marathonwatch.com makes the el cheapo watches that the US Army gives out. It is high impact plastic and in my eyes, look beautiful because it is so functional.

The last watches are from a 2006 contract and is called the Navigator. It has tritium gas and a nylon strap. They are a little hard to find, but a query to ebay for “Marathon watch -timex” will get you there.

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Ebel Classic Model Ladies Watches

Someone was asking about buying women’s watches. These are mainly fashion items now that you get for $25 at the Target. So someone asked me what you are doing and whether it makes sense to go buy something on the Internet or from a local retailer. So here are some findings.

First of all, there is nothing quite like seeing and trying the watches themselves. These are really luxury items, so you need to get dressed up and go. Here are places in Seattle that folks have recommended from yelp.com and others:

* Fox Watches. 5th Ave. Downtown Seattle. Their lowest end watch is the Omega at $2500, so you can imagine how expensive they get. You do need to dress nicely to go there as they look you over. The Omega Constellation is the classic. They have both the mini and the classic there.
* Ben Bridges. 1432 4th Ave. Downtown and also in Belsquare. This shop is a little lower end, so they have really nice “Ebel”:http://www.ebel.com (I had not heard of this brand, but on the web, they date from 1911, so what do I know). Their Classic is really nice. There is also a mini that dispenses with the second hand and the date. Their dual color band uses real 18 karat gold, 27.3mm, $2500 at retail model 1215646. On the web they warn that you shouldn’t buy anything on the Internet from them. A similar mini style is the Baume & Mercier Riviera. The steel and steel is very nice and $1600, while the solid 18 karat gold band sets you back $2700.

There are two other locations that carry Ebel which is World Lux at the Fairmont Hotel at 1208 4th Ave.

It is not clear to me, but it seems like you should be able to negotiate a price. Most of the high-end watches by the way have an authorized dealer system. They don’t honor warranties if you buy things over the Internet. So instead most folks supply their own warranties, so the best thing to do is to figure out what it costs on the web and then see if you can’t get some sort of price break at retail. On the other hand, assuming that the watch is genuine, it is hard to believe that a hugely expensive watch will break in three years.

On the web, if you are dare, are many folks selling watches. Goodness knows if they are real or not.

So for instance

“Ebel Classic Wave Watch”:http://www.amazon.com/Ebel-Classic-Wave-Watch-1157F11/dp/B0002V9PHG/ref=sr_1_11/104-7952842-3811961?ie=UTF8&s=jewelry&qid=1180999394&sr=1-11 is a good example. It lists for $1900 and goes for $1235 which is a 35% discount from WatchMaxx

Similarly “Barcario.com”:http://www.bacario.com/results.asp?SeriesID=57&DepartmentID=1&CategoryID=1&BrandIDname=&cat=Watches&BrandID=7 carries the “Ebel Classic Model 1215269”:http://www.bacario.com/Details.asp?ProductID=6574&CategoryID=1&BrandIDname=&BrandID=7&PriceID=&cat=Watches&DepartmentID=1. This is Steel & 18K Goild, 27.cmm, White mother-of-poearl, Sapphire crystal. List is $2700 and there is again a 35% mark down to $1755. “Jacobtime.com”:http://www.jacobtime.com/osc/product_info.php?products_id=2337 has a similar watch at $3350 selling at $1172.50 which is also 35% off

Citizen Watch Bands

I finally got my Citizen Eco-Drive watch. I have to say the Amazon reviews were quite accurate. It is a really nice watch. Not too expensive. But you do need to get the band fixed by a Citizen “Retailer”:http://direct.where2getit.com/cwc/apps/w2gi.php?sid=46632d07ee3b5&client=citizenus&template=locator2005&postalcode=98004&Submit=Submit, but they are easy to find. JC Penney for instance or Sears does this.

The digits are incredibly small. Not good for us far sighted people. The controls are obscure, so you need to bring your manual with you. On the other hand, it is solar powered and keeps track of time in 30 locations, which is pretty amazing. The titanium Skyhawk is just $300 street, so not expensive given how high tech it is.

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Comparison Shopping Engines

We’ve been looking at comparison shopping companies. Its interesting to see who has what presence on the web right now. From google:”comparison shopping” we get the initial list whic includes:

bizrate.com
mysimon.com
pricegrabber.com
dealtime.com
shopper.cnet.com

It’s interesting to see that shopping.com doesn’t come up.

An “Alexaholic”:http://www.alexaholic.com/shopping.com+shopzilla.com+pricegrabber.com+bizrate.com+dealtime.com?y=n&r=6m&z=1 shows that mysimon.com is way lower and shopper.cnet.com isn’t measure, but we have in order

!http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=725&h=370&r=6m&y=n&a=1&z=1&u=shopping.com&u=shopzilla.com&u=pricegrabber.com&u=bizrate.com&u=dealtime.com!

So we see that all have been they are in order:

* Pricegrabber.com. This is the site that I use religiously, so nice to see that someone else thinks it is valuable.
* Shopping.com now owned by ebay.com
* Bizrate.com is neck and neck with shopping.com and that makes some sense to me, its a great site for reseller rankings.

Then, much lower down, we have the next set which includes:

* Shopzilla.com
* Dealtime.com

I’ve never found these that useful

I actually agree with these r

Shoes online

!>http://www.zappos.com/images/818/7144818/97060-t.jpg! I haven’t had to buy dress shoes since 2004 (ok, so I don’t wear them much). Interesting to see how discounting works. I picked the Johnston & Murphy Stanza as a benchmark. The discontinued Bentley I got for $140 in late 2004, here’s what the deals are like now for shoes that are made in Italy. The exchange rate has certainly hurt.

* “Nordstrom’s”:http://shop.nordstrom.com/SR/0~2376778~2372811~2373433~2373435~2375108?mediumthumbnail=Y&mode=pfind&viewAll=1&tuid=000007e5-006c-085e-6361-745f626f7574&catID=2375108&size=8.5&width=D&sort=8&sizename=8.5&widthname=D%2c+M&searchorigin=ProductFinder&findertype=9&findertypereqd=N. They have them for “$198”:http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/2764928/0~2376778~2372811~2373433~2373435~2375108?mediumthumbnail=Y&origin=category&searchtype=&pbo=2375108&P=1 or just slightly off their $205 list. You do add $5 for shipping and tax.
* “Zappos”:http://www.zappos.com/n/es/d/722134239/show_all/1/page/1.html. These folks say they are the largest online sellies. They have these for $201.95 but offer free shipping so call it “even”:http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/2296060/c/24711.html
* “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_4_4/104-0154552-9015910?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A1036592%2Cn%3A1040668%2Cn%3A1045744%2Cn%3A1045748%2Cp%5F4%3AJohnston%20%26%20Murphy&page=1. They also carry for “$187”:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_4_4/104-0154552-9015910?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A1036592%2Cn%3A1040668%2Cn%3A1045744%2Cn%3A1045748%2Cp%5F4%3AJohnston%20%26%20Murphy&page=1 with free shipping but also have sales tax.
* “Shoebuy”:http://www.shoebuy.com/sb/s.jsp?&Brand=Johnston+%26+Murphy&Dept=AdultM&Profile=2&Size=8.5&Req=prof&_P0=4646,4546,3146,3346,3446,3646,3746,3946,4046,4246,4346,3046&b=3&b0=0.82907&b1=94.6410&b2=120.79461&scrc=2237952089&GeneralWidth=R. They are having a 15% off sale so they carry at $187 plus 15% off and free shipping. Probably the best deal still even though it is higher than the $140 I paid for similar shoes when the euro was cheaper.

Sonicare Toothbrushes

!>http://www.sonicare.com/images/products/Dsum_hero_LORES.jpg! Connie got these Sonicare toothbrushes for Calvin, but I have to say that I really love them. The only confusing thing is the names of the various versions, so here’s a decoder ring and where to buy them:

* Elite (a.k.a Best). They have two models, the Elite 9500 which has two speeds and different size brush heads as well as the Elite 7300 which has a timer on it (it beeps every 30 seconds). We have the 7500 and it is fine although superseeded by the 9500. Like all deluxe models it will even tell you how much charge it has left. The super highed is $140 at “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EHNDD0/ref=e_deav_acc_1_6/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=hpc&v=glance&n=3760901 with for the person who has to have everything. Replacement heads for the E-Series are $30 for a pair. While the Elite 7500 is $105 at “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008BFXK/qid=1153799803/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=hpc&v=glance&n=3760901 and that’s a good value considering the 7300 is $101 at “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008BFXJ/ref=pd_sim_hpc_2/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=3760901 but only has a single brush, so you get another one for $5.
* Essence (a.k.a. Better). This is the middle of the line model. Main difference are that the 5500 has that pacing thing (called the Quadpacer for some marketing reason) while the lower end 5300 only has one brush head (each brush head lasts six months and is worth $10 or so) but is just “$68”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AMRII0/qid=1153799914/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=hpc&v=glance&n=3760901 while the higher end one is “$90”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AMRIIK/qid=1153799914/sr=1-9/ref=sr_1_9/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=hpc&v=glance&n=3760901
* Advance (a.k.a Good). This is their low end 4100 model without things like a recharge indicator. It is just $50 from “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008BFXG/qid=1153799633/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/103-5447738-4251819?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=hpc&v=glance&n=3760901 and it is $20 for a single head. BTW this is also called the A series and used to be called the PS-1

Looking at this pricing, I’d say that the 5500 at $70 is probably the best value. Only small featurette you give up is the 30-second timer thing and for the difference, you end being able to another pair of heads for $30. Or if the pacing thing is important the now discontinued 7500 is a good value at $105 since it includes two heads in it.