We did some market research in which we asked, Family Fortunes style, 20 people how much money they would be spending on gaming stuff this Christmas. The number, when averaged out, was approximately £125.82 - so we decided to find out what exactly you could get for that amount of money this Chrimbo.
Over the next few pages we take a look at some of the potential combos you could line up for the 'let's spend all our money' season. There’s something for everyone here: if you’re a graphics or hardware fiend we see what’s available to pick up. If you like racing games, we take a look at the best ones on the market as well as some steering wheel options. We’ll also take a look at some of the budget monitors for those who might fancy dabbling in a bit of dual monitoring. If you’ve already got all the peripherals and hardware components you would ever need, then check out our round up of best Christmas games to pick up. The question on our lips is: is £125 enough for Christmas?
High Street versus Online
Before we begin I need to mention the current situation between high street retailers and online merchants. Is it still the case that online is always better than high street? Will you be able to get your products sent through the post in time for Christmas? What is the best option for the Christmas shopper? I’ll try to answer these questions below.
Almost everyone is now shopping on the web, from your friends at school to your grandparents. Human beings love a bargain and the web is apparently full of them. When web sales really took off a few years back, the high street retailer couldn’t compete. How do you sell a product at such a low price and pay the rent for the shop and the wages of your staff? Traditional shops relied on people’s ignorance to keep sales high and so, for a short time anyway, those who were already internet savvy were able to fully exploit the emerging market.
Is it still the case now? Well the answer is invariably yes and no. High-street shops are starting to understand where the future lies. Take a look at PC World – jumping straight into their first laptop advertised you’ll see that if you buy it online you’ll get it for £499, if you head to the shop you’ll end up forking out an extra £100 and pay £599. This is clearly a bit of a jip, considering you have to get off your fat bottom and drag your carcass down to your local shop, then pay extra for the privilege.
PC World isn’t alone in this move. Dixons and Currys both provide incentives to order online, either through reduced prices or special offers. The reason for this move is simple enough. Companies can sell items for less if they don’t need to pay for a shop and so those companies who have already established themselves as shops are trying to make the move over to online sales.
However, do these new low prices actually compete with the first online shops? A quick look at PC World’s graphics cards and we can see that for they are stocking a 7900 GT for a ‘web exclusive’ price of £199.99. However, if you go over to Dabs you’ll find an even faster card, the 7950 GT for £197.59. A cheaper price for a better card - a not uncommon phenomenon whilst shopping online. In fact almost all products can be found from original online shops for cheaper than their high street competitors. The high street still hasn't got to grips with the fact that people will shop elsewhere if the products are cheaper. They can't rely on their brand names in the emerging market.
So it has been established that shopping online is a far cheaper experience. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it better. For starters, if something goes wrong with the product delivered online then you have to go through the process of sending it back and having it RMA’ed. I imagine many of you will have encountered the situation where you have been sent either the wrong equipment or the equipment doesn’t work, in which case it’s a frustrating trip to the local post office to send it all back. This is a lengthy process and highly annoying if you're only waiting on one component.
That’s not the only reason people still avoid online shopping. There’s a certain something about having your hands on a product before you buy it, that warm feeling you get when driving home (or sitting on the bus) whilst you read the game manual or re-read the back of the graphics card box for the millionth time. When the products get delivered to your door you just don’t get that experience.
One of the other major concerns is getting the products in time for Christmas. You probably have about a week and a half from the day this article is published to safely order your goods and expect them to arrive before the big day. Obviously, after that you’ll need to join the rest of the rat race and scramble for whatever presents remain in the shops.
In this article we’ll be concentrating on what £125 will get you online, since we’ll estimate nearly all bit-tech readers will be buying their technology from an online retailer. So without any further ado, let’s get on with the Christmas list. Dear Santa…