Tech gifts that are hard to buy this holiday season

It’s that time of year when our inboxes are awash with discounts galore for Black Friday, Cyber ​​Week, and all the business promotions ...


It’s that time of year when our inboxes are awash with discounts galore for Black Friday, Cyber ​​Week, and all the business promotions that follow.

But this year we are in a unique situation. We live in a time of scarcity brought on by a global chip shortage, widespread unemployment and the effects of government-imposed lockdowns that aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Who has disrupted global supply chains, made manufacturing difficult and hampered shipping of items around the world.

It is now affecting the types of tech products we can get for our loved ones this holiday season. Gaming devices like the Playstation and Xbox consoles, which have suffered from a perpetual shortage for the past year, will continue to be a challenge to find. And the list of hard-to-get items has grown even further, encompassing Wi-Fi routers, cheap laptops, and audio gear.

Buyers who want to buy consumer electronics will need to change their game plan. The biggest takeaway? Don’t wait for Black Friday.

“Buy early,” said Patrick Moorhead, managing director of Moor Insights, a technology research company. “Make the decision between saving a little money or not buying the product at all. “

Here’s a guide to consumer electronics that will be hard to find this year.

Let’s start with some of the most sought-after and hard-to-buy tech products: Playstation 5, Microsoft Xbox x series and Nintendo’s new Switch, which was virtually impossible to find on store shelves last year.

Historically, some console makers have limited production of the machines to help build enthusiasm for the products, game analysts have said. But the shortage of chips – and increased demand for gaming devices, as many people were stuck in their homes during the pandemic – have exacerbated the shortage.

Many big box retailers sell the new consoles exclusively online, and when new PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch consoles appear, they sell out within minutes. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have warned that the chip shortage could cause supply constraints until 2022.

The shortage of chips and the overwhelming demand for gaming products have also led to a perennial shortage of high-end graphics cards, which people use to upgrade their computers to run more powerful games, Mr Moorhead said. .

The game plan? Think about automation. Millions of people follow Twitter accounts that scan retail sites and tweet as soon as game consoles and graphics cards are back in stock. You can configure your Twitter applications to send notification on your phone as soon as these accounts are published. I recommend to follow @mattswider, the editor of the TechRadar blog, which relies on sources at retailers to post inventory updates on game consoles and graphics cards.

On Black Friday, new Wi-Fi routers usually get big discounts. But we should expect less of those deals this year.

This is because of a domino effect linked to the shortage of so-called legacy nodes, a miniature chip used to create wireless sensors in network equipment, said William Crockett, vice president of Tanaka Precious Metals, a manufacturer. of components. Since this component is not readily available, companies can manufacture fewer routers. This then means that retailers are less likely to cut prices on routers to avoid running out of them, he said.

Case in point: One of Amazon’s best Black Friday deals last year was a big discount for the Eero, its popular Wi-Fi router. This year, the Eero is conspicuously absent from Amazon’s Best Deals List for Black Friday.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company has been planning promotions for Eero throughout the holiday season. So far, only high-end Eero Pro models have received substantial discounts.

So if you or your friends and family want internet router, buy it now. In the unlikely event that the product goes on sale this Black Friday, you can request a retroactive price adjustment from the retailer or return the item and purchase it at the lower price.

Retailers typically launch a plethora of low-cost laptops on Black Friday for less than $ 400, including Chromebooks and laptops from manufacturers like Acer, Dell, and HP.

Expect these offers to be more scarce on this holiday. Computer makers are grappling with a shortage of USB controllers, the chip that allows a computer to communicate with the USB port, Moorhead said. Manufacturers are therefore prioritizing these parts for the production of more expensive laptops that generate higher profits, he said.

The bottom line: You can expect deals on high-end laptops, like MacBooks, but fewer discounts on cheaper products.

There are a few rare deals online for cheap laptops – you just need to be proactive. Last week, Walmart sold an HP laptop for around $ 280, according to Pete King, a producer of Slickdeals, a website that tracks discounts online.

“If you haven’t started looking now, you’re already late for the game,” he said.

Finally, the chip shortage has affected analog chips, the circuitry that gadgets rely on to manage power. The technology products most affected are audio accessories such as speakers and headphones, which rely on analog chips to reduce their power consumption and connect wirelessly to laptops and smartphones.

However, scarcity will not affect all audio accessories. Mr Moorhead noted that Sony and Apple are developing their own chips for audio equipment, so people probably won’t have a hard time buying fancy headphones from big tech companies this holiday.

This is good news for AirPod fans, but bad news for TikTokers and Gen Zers who are actively trying to make headphones less popular in fashion.



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