E-Thrifting: How to Pop Tags Online

Even if we didn’t live in the middle of nowhere, we would continue to buy things online. The Internet is convenient and expansive. We buy clothes, printers, games, music, food and electronics. Name it and you can find it. Arguably the biggest benefit of online shopping is the low prices. You can find a tweed blazer for that “professors and schoolgirls” theme party for a cool $18 while you’re still wearing that button down and khaki combo from the previous night. I recently bought an Olympus PEN E-PL1 micro four-thirds camera with the lens included on Amazon for $202.99 instead of the $500 it cost originally. I even bought a 40-150mm zoom lens, usually $300, and an electronic viewfinder, usually $179, for a combined $315.67, bringing my total just $18.67 over what the camera alone would have cost me if I had bought it when it first came out. First released in 2008, the Micro Four-Thirds (MFT) system standard allows for a camera that is compact like a point and shoot while having better image quality and interchangeable lenses like a DSLR.

Truth is, I wasn’t even looking to buy a camera when I bought the EPL-1 on March 10. Now, how did I get such a good deal on this camera without even trying? Sites like gdgt and Amazon have price-watching features that allow you to track items for a long period of time. Back in the summer of 2009, Olympus released the PEN E-P1, its first MFT camera, and I wanted it. The styling of the EP-1, like many MFTs and all previous PEN cameras, harked back to 35mm SLRs and half-frames of the forties, fifties and sixties. However, the $800 price tag and no built-in flash or viewfinder made my 17-year-old heart sink. So, I logged on to gdgt.com and added the camera to my “I Want It” section.

gdgt.com offers a few main services that work to push the site as a tech consumer’s ultimate guide. To help consumers gain information and perspective on specific products, each gadget page has six sections: reviews, specs, answers, discussions, buy it and 90-day price history. “Reviews” features a combination of critical reviews (from gdgt writers and other tech site writers) and user reviews, while the functions of the “Specs,” “Answers,” “Discussions,” “Buy It” and “90-Day Price History” sections are pretty analogous to their titles. gdgt also allows for users to save gadgets to their personal profiles into one of three sections: “I Have It,” “I Want It” and “I Had It.” Users can build up a personal collection of all of their past gadgets, and follow gadgets they want, getting alert emails when the price drops. gdgt ties in nicely with Amazon, which also allows its users to get price drop emails on all Amazon approved products.

When I got an alert email this March that the EP-1 had dropped in price, I discovered that it listed a similar camera, the EPL-1, at a reduced price. I checked out Amazon, checked my savings and found that it was the right time to make a camera investment.

While not perfect, price-tracking services can save you money on a wide variety of items.

Austin’s Apps:

Cloudmagic – free on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Kindle Fire and Web (Chrome Web app; Extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari & Internet Explorer)

Cloudmagic allows you to quickly search through all of your online services. You can connect your Google Account (Gmail, Google Chat, Google Drive and Google Apps), Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Box.com, Evernote, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Windows Account (Hotmail, MSN and Windows Live), Microsoft Office 3.65, iCloud, Aol, Mail.com and GMX. The service is extremely fast and is even faster then the proprietary Google Search on my phone. You can also download the extension, which provides three cool services: a toolbar shortcut, a collapsible floating search bar in Gmail and Google Drive and integration with Google Search. While searching on Google, relevant Cloudmagic results are displayed to the right of Google search results.