8 buying tips to help with the gadget hunt at PC Show

Confused over the type of gadget that suits your need? Heed the buying advice of your friendly neighbourhood Stuff

Go big or go home. And we've definitely gone big for this year's PC Show.

We know what you're really looking for - the best bargains. Let's start off with the most basic info - a buying guide covering the popular products shoppers usually look for, namely cameras, headphones, laptops, portable chargers, portable storage, tablets, telco plans, and TVs.

And when you're done shopping, hop on over to Stuff's Ultimate Tech Lounge to rest your weary body.

READ MORE: 8 tips to survive the PC Show crowd

Cameras

Why would you need digital cameras? Two words: optical zoom. We know you love your smartphones, but try going near a lion to get a good shot. Not exactly a smart idea.

Not too keen on bulkier DSLRs? Mirrorless cameras are the way to go. They’re light and small, so you’ll hardly feel their weight in the bag. Plus, with so many mirrorless lenses available, you can easily switch to a macro lens to get that perfect food shot.

It’s no longer about megapixels. Instead, go for the sensor size, the larger the better. This is why avid photographers prefer a full-frame camera, which captures better images.

Always accessorise. Tripods to keep the camera steady are essential if you want to get great night shots. Battery grips have a two-fold advantage - they give you more shooting time and better flexibility when you hold the camera at awkward angles.

Headphones and earphones

The classic question: on-ear, over-ear, or in-ear cans? If you want audio pumped directly into your brain, get in-ears. Squeamish about having two buds sticking so far into your canals? Opt for the on-ear or over-ear models.

Know what you’ll be using the headphones for. Gym rats will want something that’s resistant to water (well, mostly sweat), and preferably wireless. If it’s for your smartphone, always look for one with an inline controller to take calls and control music playback.

Noise cancelling - great when you want to block out ambient noise that irritates you. But if you’re truly nitpicky about audio quality, the dead silence can be disconcerting. Instead, go for noise isolating headphones, which do just as well without creating the white noise effect.

Laptops

Searching for a top-of-the-line laptop? Need it for extreme gaming? Then the first order of business is to ask for a laptop armed with an Intel Haswell processor and a discrete graphics system.

If it’s a work laptop you’re searching for, portability should be the key consideration. Most laptops are exceptionally light, some of which weigh just slightly more than 1kg. The rule of thumb - don’t get anything beyond 1.5kg

A portable laptop also means a slightly smaller screen. Anything below 15 inches can be carried easily. But if you are eyeing a desktop replacement for gaming, go nuts and aim for screen sizes between 17 to 19 inches.

Battery life is equally important if you’re travelling with your laptop for work. A safe gauge is a laptop with at least 10 hours of battery life, though this’ll vary depending on your usage.

Portable chargers

Size matters. In this case, the thinner the battery pack, the better because you’ll be lugging it around either in your pocket or bag.

Choose a portable charger that matches the mAh of your smartphone’s battery. In reality, a higher capacity is required due to power loss during a charge.

Charging speed matters too, so look for one that has a higher output current. Watch for battery packs with a 2.1A output, which’ll charge much faster than a cheaper one with.

More after the break...

Portable storage

Get a Mac and Windows compatible hard disk drive. At some point, you might just end up using both OS X and Windows machines.

Calculate how much you’re spending per GB. Aim for the sweet spot, usually found in drives above 2TB in capacity, for the best value-to-storage ratio

If you want something more durable and able to take knocks and hits, buy a solid state drive. These non-mechanical storage drives are less prone to data corruption when they’re tossed in your bag. The only caveat: storage capacity is meagre compared to the usual hard disk drives.

Don’t buy multiple thumb drives, SD and microSD cards with slow read/write speeds. Instead, invest every single cent in one portable unit that transfers files in the blink of an eye.

Tablets

If you’re addicted to the latest Korean dramas, aim for a 10in tablet. Trust us, the extra screen real estate will come in handy when you see those tears and expressive faces in high definition.

Comics and book readers, opt for smaller tablet like the Nexus 7 or iPad mini with Retina Display. They are the perfect size for reading, and more importantly, your arms won’t feel the strain.

Always get as much storage space as you can. Tablets maxed out with memory make more sense as the extra cost per GB is lower. But if you’re on a tighter budget, less storage space means you’ll need to do frequent housekeeping and remove unused apps.

Telco plans

Don’t be lured by freebies dangled in front of you. In the long run, the amount you pay for the the monthly subscription might cost more than that ‘free’ smartphone, laptop, tablet or even TV you’re getting.

You don’t need the plans with the fastest download or upload speeds. Even the most basic, under S$40 fibre broadband plans will give you decent download speeds of up to 100Mbps.

Want to catch up on Netflix exclusive shows, such as House of Cards, which are not available here? Consider plans with integrated virtual private networking (VPN) services from MyRepublic and Viewqwest to access geo-restricted streaming services.

Televisions

Torn between 1080p and 4K? The answer is pretty simple - stick with full HD. For now, at least, till 4K content is readily available.

Curved OLED TVs aren’t new-fangled items. Place them in a relatively large room, and you’ll notice the wide viewing angle. Lay your eyes on these beauties, but only if you have the spare cash to pay for them.

Measure the size of your room before you swipe your credit card for that brand new TV. A small 28in TV gives you a minimum viewing distance of 1m, while larger 60in TVs would require you to sit 2.3m away from them to get the best viewing experience.

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