If you’ve ever purchased a high-definition television, Blu-Ray player, or some other electronic, you’re most likely asked by the sales associate or check out person if you need cables, surge protectors or other miscellaneous items to complement your purchase.
If you answer yes, you’ll probably be directed to the most expensive complementary items they have because “those will give you the best quality.” Of course, you don’t want to degrade your new high-end electronics with a crappy cable or surge protector, right? Well, in many cases expense doesn’t always mean quality. (Side note: More expensive HDMI cables will not give you a better picture because they send a digital signal. The picture will either appear as it’s supposed to, or it will be choppy, pixellated or non-existent. In the digital world, there is no in between. You’ll know as soon as you hook it up.)
To save some serious money, your best bet is to get your cables and other items someplace else. My online “Radio Shack” for random electronics and accessories is Monoprice.com. They tend to have ridiculously inexpensive cables (HDMI, USB, audio), printer cartridges, adapters, and even speakers. I’ve been shocked by the number and variety of items they have.
Below are a few of the items that I’ve purchased with comparative prices and percent savings over the next cheapest option at the time of writing. I tried to find the cheapest option on each site that was equal or served the same purpose.
- Micro USB cable (6ft)
- BestBuy.com – $5.19
- RadioShack.com- $5.99
- Monoprice.com – $1.41 (72% savings)
- USB Car charger
- BestBuy.com – $4.25
- RadioShack.com – $6.64
- Monoprice.com – $1.34 (68% savings)
- HDMI cables (6ft)
- BestBuy.com – $5.59
- RadioShack.com – $8.99
- Monoprice.com – $3.54 (36% savings)
- Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter for Apple MacBooks
- BestBuy.com – $16.24
- RadioShack.com – $24.99
- Monoprice.com – $13.56 (16% savings)
- Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter for Apple MacBooks
- BestBuy.com – $3.91 (41% savings)
- RadioShack.com – $19.99
- Monoprice.com – $6.72
- Inkjet printer cartridges (HP 57 Color Cartridge)
- BestBuy.com – $43.99
- RadioShack.com – $49.93
- Staples.com (Value version) – $32.99
- Monoprice.com (Remanufactured) – $15.34 (53% savings)
It’s important to note a couple of different things about the prices above. First, these are comparing the online prices. If you went into the store, you probably wouldn’t be able to find the same items at the same prices. Second, BestBuy.com had one of the items cheaper than Monoprice.com, but it was from another seller and wasn’t a Best Buy item. That was the case for many of the other items as well on BestBuy.com. Finally, Monoprice.com sells remanufactured printer cartridges. Many people may not feel comfortable using remanufactured cartridges. However, our printer is well over 10 years old and I can’t justify purchasing a genuine cartridge for it that costs more than it’s worth. At this point, if a remanufactured one were to damage the printer beyond repair, I’d just go buy another one.
Even with shipping, purchasing these types of items through Monoprice.com is oftentimes much cheaper than buying them at your local electronics store. The only downside is that you won’t have them immediately. So if you plan on running out to get a new TV before the Super Bowl, you may want to order your HDMI cables a couple of weeks ahead of time so you aren’t overspending in the store just to get everything hooked up in time.
As far as customer service, I have no complaints. I had an adapter that worked perfectly…the first time. I pulled it out later and hooked it up and no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to work. They set me up with a return, I mailed it back, and they sent me another one. I didn’t have to do a bunch of troubleshooting or anything. It was pretty much no questions asked.
Potential Savings: As you can see above, savings can range anywhere from 16% to 72% as of when I checked the prices at writing. You may have better luck depending on what it is you’re looking for.