10 Worst Tech Rip-Offs and How to Avoid Them
From overcharging you for data to charging you over $120 a year for renting a cable modem, tech companies are always willing to take advantage of their customers. Fortunately, you don't have to be a digital dupe. Here's a list of the 10 biggest technology rip-offs and how to avoid them.
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Smartphone Storage Memory Upgrades
How much is a little additional storage really worth? When buying a new iPhone 6s, you'll pay an extra $100 to go from a paltry 16GB to a reasonable 64GB. However, for just $15, you can buy a memory card that adds 64GB to any phone with a microSD expansion slot. To avoid running out of space for your media and apps, consider getting an expandable phone or one with at least 32GB of internal storage. For example, Samsung responded to complaints and added a microSD slot to the Galaxy S7, giving you up to 200GB of extra space.
2-in-1s Where the Keyboard Costs Extra
How'd you like to buy a convertible car . . . that comes without the roof? How about a sailboat where the sails cost extra? A number of high-end tablets, including the iPad Pro, Google Pixel C and Microsoft's Surface line, tout their ability to convert into laptops, but then charge you ovemorer than $100 extra to get the keyboard you need to make it happen. You can avoid the problem by purchasing a true 2-in-1, like the HP Spectre X2 or the Toshiba Portege Z20t that comes with every part you need, right out of the box.
MORE: Best 2-in-1s You Can Buy
Most people don't realize that their cable provider is charging them a hefty cable modem rental fee that could be as much as $10 per month. However, by spending $70 for your own modem, you can save as much as $500 over the course of five years. MORE: Best Cable Modems
Overpriced HDMI Cables
There's are suckers born every minute, and your local retailer is more than happy to take their money with a $100 HDMI cable. Any HDMI cable that's labeled "high speed" should offer the same signal quality as a more expensive model, but that hasn't stopped companies from trying to justify their exorbitant prices. At Best Buy, for example, you can get a 6.6-foot "silver-plated copper" Magnolia Cable for $99.99, or you can buy a 6-foot Insignia cable that does the same thing for $20.
MORE: Best TVs for Your Budget
Configuring Your Laptop's RAM
If you buy RAM by itself, you'll spend as little as $23 for a 4GB module. However, if you're configuring a new laptop on sites like Dell or Lenovo, you may end up paying three to four times that amount. Find out whether your desired laptop is user upgradeable before you buy and, if so, configure with less RAM and add your own after purchase.
Whether you're shopping online or rolling up to the cash register at a big- box store, you'll be offered an extended warranty on your new gadget and it could cost hundreds of dollars for a couple of years of added protection. Don't fall for it. If a product is truly defective, it will probably die within the first year. If not, you're better off gambling that it will last a few years than spending 20 or 30 percent of the purchase price to offset your risk.
International Roaming Fees
Most carriers would love to overcharge you for data abroad. AT&T and Verizon, for example, charge $25 or $30 for just 100 or 120MB, barely enough to keep up with your email. Save money by purchasing a local SIM card or subscribing to T-Mobile, which offers free international roaming, though not necessarily at full speed. Services like prepaidzero.com or XCom Global will ship you a foreign SIM card or hotspot before you fly.
GPS Services of Any Kind
It's hard to believe that, in a world where Google Maps, Apple Maps and Bing Maps are all free, some companies would still charge money for directions. Carriers like AT&T and Verizon still peddle directions services for $4.99 a month, while stand-alone GPS makers like Garmin and TomTom still sell dedicated devices for $100 a pop. Just use your phone and save the money.
Device Connection Fees
It's bad enough that you have to pay a king's ransom to keep your family's phones connected to a network. But carriers want you to pay an extra $10 per month to let your tablet share from the same pool of data or $5 per month to do the same with a smartwatch. To save money, just use your handset as a hotspot and connect your other devices to it.
Windows Licenses (for Mini PCs)
When you buy most PC laptops or desktops, the Windows operating system comes preloaded. However, many of today's most promising mini PCs, including the Intel NUC and the Gigabyte Brix, are sold as "bare bones," which means you have to pay as much as $99 extra for a Windows license. You can save by either avoiding bare- bones systems, installing Linux or purchasing an older version of Windows you can upgrade.
MORE: Best Mini PCs Reviewed