It's really very simple.
1. If you want a book, use BookFinder.com. It searches the search engines. Wonderful.
2. For everything else, start with a quick read of ConsumerSearch.com. It pulls together the results of other people's reviews (e.g., for cameras, it might have camera magazines, camera websites, and Consumer Reports). Then it summarizes which products bubble to the top. Maybe ConsumerSearch won't cover the item you're looking for, but maybe they will. If so, you win!
For a book, using BookFinder is a simple one-stop shop. It finds the book for you. It finds the best price for you. You are done.
For anything else (well, at least anything that ConsumerSearch lists), you have 3 choices.
|Option 1||Option 2||Option 3|
|Do your own research. Find & read reviews. Compile your own list. Weigh the options & prices. Then choose one.||Buy the first item that you run across that you think might meet your needs. (Or worse yet, buy what the salesman wants to sell you.)||Use ConsumerSearch. Find the widely researched best products, and maybe read the article to make sure it works for your specific purposes.|
|Results: Save money. Spend hours & maybe days of your life (depending on how thorough you want to be). Have a nearly 100% success rate of buying good products.||Results: Waste lots of money. Save lots of time shopping (though perhaps spend lots of time trying to use or return an inferior product). Have a 50% chance of buying a decent product -- and probably a 50% chance of getting it at a decent price. (That works out to a 25% chance of a good deal, BTW.)||Results: Save money (ok, you still need to search a bit for the best vendor, but ConsumerSearch has some good advertiser links for that, too). Spend 10 minutes and have a 90% chance of buying a good product -- or spend 60 minutes and have a 95% chance.|
My historical tendency is Option 1. I know too many people who do Option 2. But now that there is an Option 3, I'm all for it. The choice is obvious.
NOTE: I do not get paid anything to say any of this. I'm just a happy customer.