Sound Advice Column: Apple Store Best Place to get an iPod

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Q:   What do you think is the best place to buy an iPod?

-Melissa Lawrence, Eighty-Four, PA

A:   For buying and iPod (or any other Apple product, for that matter) I would strongly recommend your local Apple Store, if you are lucky enough to have one near you. Apple keeps strong price controls on their products so prices are going to be very much the same wherever you go.   If pricing is the same everywhere, what you are looking for is the best possible experience.   I am confident that the Apple Store is hands-down the best place to get that experience because of the staff, the store and the selection.

Apple Stores have some of the most knowledgeable and devoted Apple fans anywhere working the sales floor.   They know their products inside and out, love talking about them and really want you as a customer.   They aren’t commissioned so there is no sales pressure.     The stores themselves are hip and fun to visit, and free lessons on Apple hardware and software are regularly scheduled.   Selection is unmatched as all of Apple’s consumer products are on display, and the item you need is likely to be in stock.   A full range of third-party accessories are available to try and buy.   For example, there is a large selection of headphones and iPod-docking radios on hand, all connected to iPods so you can compare   them directly to each other.

You asked about the best place, and I am confident with my answer.   However, many readers may not have an Apple Store nearby.   In that case I recommend you simply go to a retailer you have had a good experience with before, or order one from the Apple Store online at

More TV-buying tips: Last week I discussed TV technologies.   Which brings us to the next step: where should you buy it?   It is easy to gravitate towards the big retailers and they often do a good job, but there are some other options you should consider.

I recommend trying your local, independently-owned retailer first.   I’ve purchased a lot of electronics since I embraced the hobby long ago and I have always found the best service to be found there.   Surprisingly, I have usually found the prices to be better than the big-box stores, we well.   Consumer Reports apparently agrees with my own findings as they make independent local retailers their top-rated choice.

Online retailers have become an increasingly viable option. Many of them have very knowledgeable and helpful salespeople and the savings can be significant.   For example, I have seen a 55″ Sony SXRD TV online for $1699 with free delivery and no sales tax charged, from a top-rated web retailer known for excellent service and honest dealings.   The in-store price at a leading retailer was $1999 with free delivery.   Sales tax brought it to almost $2150, a savings of almost $500.   It can be hard to stomach paying $500 more for the same TV.   The downside may be after-sales service.   If the TV is defective when delivered, you can probably exchange it at the retailer.   If you bought it online, you will probably need to have a service visit or request they send you a replacement and pick up the other one.   That said, as a Q&A columnist I’ve heard some real horror stories about after-sales service from the big-box retailers, so I can’t say for sure buying locally will get you better service than if you ordered online.   It’s sad but true.

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