Consumer Wise: Tech gadgets and savings to get in 2016

By Angie Moreschi, Consumer Wise Host
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 12:18 PM EST

Finding the must-have tech gifts of the year is always a top priority.

“You want a shirt or you want a TV? Come on, that’s a gimme!” Best Buy manager Jim Murphy joked.

There’s no doubt we all love our gadgets. Best Buy customer Amanda Lee was quick to rattle off some of her favorites.  

 “iPhone, iPad, iPod, all the i’s,” Lee said, laughing.

'Hey, Alexa'

There are lots of choices when it comes to techy gifts this year. Murphy points to Amazon’s Echo as one of the hot items. Just like Siri on your iPhone, Amazon has Alexa to help us at home.

“You have the ability to do things like play music through it, get your weather through it. (Just ask,) ‘Hey Alexa, what’s the traffic?’ and it’s going to pull it up for you.”

Doggy gadgets

And this year, there’s some new technology for Fido: new and improved, automated pet-feeders, with a webcam so you can see your pet while you’re at work.

“Aww, that would be cute. I would love that,” Lee said, "Because I miss him when I’m at work.”

Wireless headphones

Since the iPhone7 no longer has a headphone jack, people are looking for wireless headphones. Just in time: the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones — long considered the gold standard — are now wireless.  They are pricey at $350, but the noise cancellation technology is pretty amazing.

“When you take off on a plane, the engines fire off, and it’s very loud. Put on your headphones. Click the button and you can’t hear a thing,” Best Buy customer Rick Gallegos said.

Lost item finder

For that forgetful friend, the tile tracker can help find their phone or keys.

If you lose your keys and it has a tile tracker on it, all you have to do is hit the tile app on your phone, and it plays a little tune to help you find them. And in turn, if you lose your phone, double-click the tile tracker, and it plays a tune to help you find your phone, even when it’s in silent mode.

“That’s very cool! That’s awesome,” customer Jeremy Schulman said.

Other hot items

Waterproof fitness trackers are also new this year, as well as more stylish designs like those from Kate Spade.

And, of course, electronics are always in demand for the holiday, with some of the best prices of the year.

“TVs tend to be the hottest items when it comes to those Black Friday specials,” Best Buy manager Murphy said.

Getting good deals

Getting good deals does take strategy.

“You have to be smart, get up early,” Schulman said.

“Don’t wait around. If they have a deal on something or a special, you probably need to get it right there,” added Gallegos.

And Murphy said signing up for loyalty programs, like theirs at Best Buy, can pay off with special perks.

“You actually see some of these specials before they even get to the rest of the public, and you can get some early access to some things,” he said.

It’s always a good idea to do a little research before you head into the store. Price comparison websites such as pricegrabber.com are great ways to find deals. And then you have coupon apps like RetailMeNot that help you save even after you’re in the store.

Be sure to check fliers and websites early and often. Some online retailers start sales the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

“I love it. I love getting a good deal. I’m not going to lie,” customer Lee said. “That’s probably what gets me most.”

Don’t fret too much if you miss one deal. Stores know they’ve got to keep those specials coming to keep shoppers buying.

If you miss the deals on Black Friday, shopping experts say look for the next biggest savings the week before Christmas. That’s when retailers feel the pinch to start lowering prices on remaining stock.