How To Find The Best Deals On Cyber Monday
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
It's Cyber Monday, the day when we all go online and hunt for bargains when we're supposed to be working. Experts estimate that more than $3 billion worth of stuff will be bought and sold today. So we're going to take a deep dive into Cyber Monday shopping on this week's All Tech Considered.
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SHAPIRO: Joanna Stern is personal technology columnist at The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to the program.
JOANNA STERN: It's great to be here.
SHAPIRO: How big a deal is Cyber Monday in 2016? Is it actually a moment to get better deals on the rest of the year?
STERN: It's a moment in a sea of moments. There's always a deal to be had. And there are lots of ways to sort of game the system and figure out the best time to get a deal. But certainly Cyber Monday there are some really good price drops, especially on tech items. So it's definitely worth. If you've got that list, go out there. Check what the prices are, and take your chances if you think you aren't going to find a better price.
SHAPIRO: Let's talk about what people are actually buying this Cyber Monday. What are the hot tech items for holiday shopping season 2016?
STERN: The top one that I am recommending to most people - and it's not a brand new product, but it is one that I feel like this year is the year to buy it - and this is Amazon's Echo or Echo Dot. These are talking speakers from Amazon. They have assistants - or the Alexa assistant built right in, sort of like you can ask the speaker to play music. Hey, Alexis, set a timer for 10 minutes; I got to take the chicken out. All these sorts of little things you do around the house that are - really just makes sense with voice control. I love having the Echo in my kitchen.
SHAPIRO: It's been around for a couple years. Why is this the year for it?
STERN: It's true. Amazon really put a lot of effort into improving the software. So Alexa is far quicker to respond than some of the other assistants. On top of that, there are now these third-party apps. So for instance, last week, Allrecipes added an app for the Echo or the Echo Dot. You can ask Alexa for recipes when you're in the kitchen, and it will read back recipes and help you as you're cooking.
SHAPIRO: Give us a wildcard or two, something on the market this holiday season that you think is really cool that might catch people's eye.
STERN: (Laughter) I'm going to say something pretty peculiar.
STERN: I think people should buy people a router, a wireless router. I know it sounds like something you'd get for someone that you basically hate.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. It seems like buying a vacuum cleaner, honestly (laughter).
STERN: It really seems like the worst possible thing you could give someone. But I think it's the best possible tech gift because this was the year that home Wi-Fi got really good in large part thanks to a startup called eero - E-E-R-O. And what they figured out is something called the mesh network. And you put this one wireless router near your main modem and your main router. And then you place these other little pods around the house. And it allows these to create a network that's more widespread in your home. And I bought one for my home. It really solved this problem of having to try and put one powerful router in the center of the house and have those beams stretch across the entire house.
SHAPIRO: How about a tech toy or game that you would recommend this year?
STERN: I'm going to recommend this Nintendo, The Nintendo NES Classic. For any of us that grew up in the '80s, it is the original Nintendo in a shrunken, little console. It's handheld. And Nintendo has rereleased this with 30 of the original Nintendo games packed inside it.
SHAPIRO: Oh, wow, "Super Mario Bros." and all that stuff?
STERN: "Super Mario Bros." is there. "Zelda's" there. "Donkey Kong" is there.
SHAPIRO: My whole childhood is there.
STERN: Your whole childhood is there, and it is as amazing as you remember it. The problem and the major catch is that this thing is so hard to find. It's $60 - lucky if you find it. Nintendo says they are releasing a steady stream of these throughout the holiday season.
SHAPIRO: It's like the Tickle Me Elmo of 2016.
STERN: Yeah, I don't know why they didn't make more of these.
SHAPIRO: Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal's personal tech columnist, thanks for joining us.
STERN: Thanks for having me.
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