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Post-Christmas bargain hunting

January’s Consumer Electronics Show taunts us with gadgetry soon to come, but the new year tends towards the moribund in terms of brand-new products filling the shops.

Any companies that failed to get their star products out in time for Christmas are mostly licking their wounds. There are obvious exceptions, of course. This time last year, for instance, Microsoft had postponed the release of Vista until after the Christmas period, and seemed totally unfazed by the move (in contrast to the hordes of screaming PC manufacturers who quickly blamed Microsoft for their sluggish end of year sales.)

But if you can harden yourself against the euphoria, it’s always worth waiting until after the festivities before making your big technology buys. Not only do you have the advantage of tumbling prices as manufacturers fall over themselves to get rid of stock, but you can sit back and see exactly what worked and what didn’t.
Check out a typical online forum and you’ll be treated to the sight of dozens of people telling the world why the iPhone, graphics card or Blu-ray drive wasn’t the panacea they expected it to be. There’ll have been countless minions putting their heads together to solve those critical but irritating little problems that would have had you spending your Boxing Day banging your head against your PC, too. Waiting a few weeks means that you’ll get the product everybody else wishes they had bought to begin with.

And while we can’t offer you a Windows operating system this year, there will be some fascinating products arriving soon. There should be some interesting graphics cards – expect a potentially exciting new launch from ATI/AMD shortly – while WirelessHD could be a big story in the first half of 2008. And we’re all waiting to see how Microsoft Windows Home Server works in practice. We’re living in a world where we need to work with multiple PCs, and it would be nice if many of those machines can themselves connect seamlessly to our TVs and home entertainment systems. (We’re not so stupid as to think that a Microsoft product is guaranteed to do everything it says in the press release, but it’ll be interesting to see how close it can get this time round.)

All in all then, there could be some intriguing releases arriving very soon. And if you waited to buy until January, chances are you’ll actually be able to afford some of them.

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