(USA TODAY) -- Most people are pretty smart when it comes to buying computers and other tech gear.
Theyuse the Internet to research products and compare prices. And whenthey're ready to buy, they take advantage of coupon codes and freeshipping offers. But the tech retail jungle is filled with booby trapsthat can snare even savvy consumers.
Steer clear of these bad deals and save more of your hard-earned cash.
1. Extended warranties/phone insurance
Extended warranties for computers and electronics can add hundreds of dollarsto the price of your purchase. And they're usually bad investments.
Thebasic manufacturer warranty on most gadgets typically covers a year ofuse, which is when repairs are most often needed. Extended warrantieswill bring that out to two or three years, but by then most gadgets areoutdated and not worth repairing.
The exception would be an expensive computer that you carry around, like a MacBook.
Ifnightmares of dropping your smartphone keep you up at night, you canbuy yourself peace of mind by self-insuring. Put what you would havespent on protection into a savings account.
If something goes wrong, pay for the repair out of that fund. If nothing happens, take a vacation!
Checkwith your credit card company, too. Buying a gadget with certain cardscan double the length of the manufacturer's warranty at no cost to you.
2. Expensive cables
When you're shelling outbig bucks for a high-end LED HDTV and a new Blu-ray player, spendingan extra $100 or more on HDMI cables doesn't seem like a big deal.However, it's money you don't need to spend.
Unless you'rerunning digital cable through an entire house, there isn't anydifference between the $10 or less 6-foot digital cable and the priceygold-plated versions.
Back in the days of analog A/V, it's truethat more-expensive cables did a better job of shielding the signal frominterference. Digital cables, like HDMI, carry a stream of 1s and 0s.It either works perfectly or not at all.
Some companies recommendyou purchase their expensive branded adapters when you buy theirproducts. You can get generic adapters online for less that work just aswell.
3. RAM and hard drive upgrades from computer makers
Most computer manufacturers allow you to customize your computer a bit beforeordering. You might add RAM or switch from a conventional hard drive to asolid-state drive.
While convenient, it's less expensive to buythe base model of the computer and perform your own upgrades. You canfind RAM and SSDs for much less at an electronics store or online thancomputer manufacturers charge.
For example, if you order a Macmini from the Apple Store and bump the RAM from 4GB to 8GB, Apple willtack on $100. The RAM itself only costs $60 elsewhere. HP and other PCmakers have similar markups.
A PC maker will charge $300 or moreto put a 256GB SSD in a desktop. A similar drive costs $220 or lesselsewhere. Apple charges $400 to put a 256GB SSD in a non-Retina MacBookPro.
4. Carrier-provided GPS
For an extra$5-$10 per month, wireless carriers will turn your smartphone into a GPS navigation device! Isn't that great?
There's just one catch.
EveryAndroid phone comes loaded with Google Maps. It's the best navigationsoftware you can get, with spoken turn-by-turn directions, millions ofpoints of interest, live traffic information and more. Don't forget it'sfree.
iPhones are preloaded with Apple Maps - again, it's free -which may or may not be good depending on where you live. However, youcan download Google Maps free from the App Store.
Want to try something else? Waze is another very popular free navigation app available for both mobile operating systems.
5. Tablet data plans
If you're on the go quite a bit, a tablet with a cellular connection sounds like a good idea.
Beforeyou drop more than $100 dollars for the privilege, however, there's analternative. Those with a 4G smartphone and a shared data plan fromVerizon or AT&T can share Internet with other gadgets - even alaptop.
Enabling Internet sharing on your phone - also known astethering - creates a Wi-Fi hotspot for your other gadgets to connectto. It's great when you need a minute or two to send or receive a filesecurely on a laptop or tablet.
That's better than spending $10-$20 every month for a tablet data plan or dedicated mobile hotspot.
Be careful, though. Tethering chews up cellular data very quickly and drains your phone battery even quicker.
Android users who aren't on a shared data plan can try third-party tethering apps like FoxFi or Easy Tether.