A gadget buyer's truism: The latest isn't necessarily the greatest. Sometimes an older model is a perfect fit for your tech needs -- not to mention your budget.
Get the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5
Price: $99 (vs. $199 iPhone 5) Savings: 50% Why go old school? Sure, you can get a 16GB iPhone 5 for $199 (with a two-year wireless contract), but at $99, the 4S is still a good option, says NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker. The changes to the handset itself are slight: The iPhone 5 is a shade thinner, is less than an ounce lighter, and has an extra half-inch of screen. And while some tweaks, like an improved camera, are a boon, others can be irritating. For instance, the new version uses a different docking system, so some peripherals you already own (like a speaker dock) will work with the 4S but not the 5.
Get the Nikon 1 J1 instead of the Nikon 1 J2
Price: $400 (vs. $550 Nikon 1 J2) Savings: 27% Why go old school? Bridging the gap between a basic point-and-shoot and a complex -- and pricey -- DSLR camera, the J1 offers excellent photo quality, interchangeable lenses and extras like HD video. The newer version of the camera, the J2, launched last year with relatively minor changes: a higher-resolution LCD display and more preset shooting modes, including night landscape and panorama. The factors that determine image quality remain the same on both models, says Lori Grunin, CNET's digital camera expert. What's the biggest difference? An extra $150 on the price tag.
Get the Panasonic TC-P60U50 instead of the Panasonic TC-P60UT50
Price: $900 (vs. $1,300 Panasonic TC-P60UT50) Savings: 31% Why go old school? Today's TV hype is all about 3-D and "smart" sets, which connect to the Internet. But if you care more about picture quality than pop-out images and web surfing, why not save yourself $400 with this 60-inch plasma? You can even add web access with a $50 Roku box, allowing you to stream media from sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus (both cost $8 a month).
CASHING IN ON OLD GADGETS
Got a new tech toy? Don't just stick the one you already own in the junk drawer. Here's how to sell it instead. Pick the right site. If you want to sell quickly, sites like Gazelle.com will make an instant offer. The downside? "You'll typically get less than if you sell on your own," says Adam Dachis of Lifehacker.com. To maximize your profit, Dachis recommends listing the device on Amazon.com or Craigslist. It takes more effort, but you're likely to get as much as 15% more. A tip: Pricing your device a dollar or two less than others will boost your listing to the top of the page on Amazon. Time it right. When possible, sell before your item's warranty expires, giving would-be buyers confidence that they're not getting a lemon. Also, try to put gadgets on the market before the new version is released and resale prices plummet. Remember to wipe it. Clear all personal information from gadgets. For smartphones, that means choosing the menu option that erases content or "restores factory settings." Erase files and remove memory cards from cameras and MP3 players. And for a laptop, try CCleaner, a free program that will wipe your hard drive.