Deals on hi-tech appliances

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 6:02am


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Advances in technology have made our lives more convenient, but our obsessive need to buy the latest gadget is eroding our bank accounts.

Your computer is an essential piece of hardware, but your first question should be whether you really need a Mac. Sure, they're sleek and stylish, but that comes with a significant price difference when compared to a PC.

For example, the Apple Store in Hong Kong sells the Macbook Air 13-inch model with 256 gigabytes of memory for HK$11,488. Fortress, meanwhile, lists the HP Envy Ultrabook 4 for as little as HK$7,180. Both have similar processors, and while the Macbook weighs about 0.4kg less than its PC counterpart, the HP packs double the hard disk space and memory, adds an inch to its screen and gets two more hours out of its battery.

If you do insist on falling for Apple's aesthetics, consider buying one of its significantly cheaper refurbished items, each of which is tested and certified, and includes a one-year warranty. At the time of writing, a souped-up Macbook Air 11-inch was selling for HK$8,788. It would cost you HK$12,008 if you bought it new.

If refurbished gadgets sound enticing, consider swapping your antiquated mobile phone at one of the many second-hand phone dealers around Hong Kong.

The best place to trade in is at Sin Tat Plaza in Mong Kok, an entire mall dedicated to the handset, while the ever-popular Oriental 188 Shopping Centre in Wan Chai has a number of stores. Shop around, bargain hard and make sure you're getting a "Hong Kong phone" and not a "parallel import", which might not work when you go abroad.

But while parallel imports aren't recommended for phones, they're more than acceptable for your other needs: everything from big-screen televisions to high-end speaker systems to digital cameras. According to Hong Kong law, as long as there are no exclusive licensees for a specific company, you can import its gadgets from countries where prices are significantly cheaper - hence "parallel import".

Obviously, this brings about possible swindle issues, but a good regulator for that is price.com.hk (it's in Chinese, but use Google to translate it into English). The website compares gadget prices in stores around Hong Kong and offers star-based ratings of the seller's reliability.

For example, Fortress lists the Samsung ES7000 40-inch 3-D LED Smart TV for HK$12,800, while the website lists a three-star Sham Shui Po dealer who offers a parallel import for just HK$9,475.

Finally, there are the death rattles of major electronic dealers: Gome Electrical Appliances recently announced the closure of all its Hong Kong stores by mid-March, while there's a distinct possibility that HMV will shut down its local operations. Discounts aren't guaranteed, but do drop by the stores a few days before they close and see if you can snag a good deal.