You might think that because you faithfully compare prices online before buying, dutifully download coupons to your phone, and vigilantly watch for deep discounts on yesterday’s inventory as new models appear in stores, you’re getting the best deals you possibly can.
Still, for some products, deep discounts go by the calendar. Consumer Reports product research experts, who track prices all year long, have compiled a list of items that are typically discounted most deeply in March. If you have some extra cash on hand this month–say, a tax refund–and are looking to spend it wisely on some needed products, you can make your money go a long way by buying the products that are on this list. And in addition to these goods, you can also find good deals on spring travel in March.
Price Cuts on Boxed Chocolates
It’s not every day that our expert tasters find themselves saying things like "smooth melt, "milky and caramelized," "amazing," "artistic-looking," "sophisticated," and "ultra-smooth." But those are exactly the words they used to describe some of the excellent chocolate bars and boxed chocolates in our Ratings.
Use our chocolates buying guide to discover which flavors, textures, and other characteristics are most important to consider. We’ve found boxed chocolates can be very different. Among the more traditional choices are Candinas and La Maison du Chocolat. People willing to try new tastes might like Christopher Elbow, Vosges, and Xocolatti. Whatever your choice, enjoy it soon: Prices often drop between Valentine’s Day and Easter. And the shelf life of most candy is 10 days to two weeks.
Shipping is expensive. For the candy in our Ratings, standard overnight or one-day shipping to New York added from about $ 17 to $ 45 to the total cost. Note that we ordered in the summer, when shipping costs can be higher than they are in winter.
Nutrition pluses and minuses. Eating a little dark chocolate occasionally might be healthful, as some research links it to lower blood pressure and certain other health benefits. But as with all good things, moderation is key: The tested chocolates that reveal nutrition information have about 200 calories and 8 to 17 grams of fat per 1.4-ounce serving.
Digital Camera Discounts
Whether you’re looking for a basic digital camera (simple point-and-shoots with just the features you need for routine shots), or an advanced model (feature-laden and sophisticated cameras that let you change lenses), now is a good time to shop. Our digital camera buying guide and Ratings give you the details on different models, as well as information on features and brands.
Do your research. Buying a digital camera can be confusing. There are hundreds of models available at many different types of retail outlets (online and in traditional stores), with prices ranging from $ 75 to several thousand. Some cameras are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. Others are large and can weigh up to two pounds. Some are easy to use. Others look like you need an engineering degree to operate them.
Take the next steps. After you consider the type of camera you want and the number of megapixels you need, but before you dive into specific models, be sure to check out our brand profiles, which outline many of the most popular camera product lines and their particular character traits.
Deals on Ellipticals
The moving hand grips and adjustable resistance on an elliptical machine allow you to turn this cardiovascular exercise into a full-body workout.
Consider your workout intensity. The more expensive ellipticals in our Ratings tend to feel more solid, operate more smoothly, and have more features than the under-$ 1,000 models. You might also get superior ergonomics, a wider range of features, and a more generous warranty.
Beware of trials. A "30-day money-back guarantee" sounds good, but returning the product might not be easy. Some of the machines are heavy or bulky or both, and you might have to pay for return shipping, which could cost $ 90 or more. Before signing up for a trial, verify with the company the proper return address and how soon you can expect a refund if you send the device back. A scan of online complaints about home fitness equipment revealed that problems with returns, including lack of a valid return address or exorbitant shipping charges, were commonly reported.
Whether you want to shop online or purchase a machine from the store, be sure to try it out in person first. You might notice a problem that you couldn’t detect by sight or reviews alone. For more shopping tips and product information, check our elliptical buying guide.
Sales on Humidifiers
A humidifier can relieve itchy eyes, sore throat, and cracked skin by adding moisture to dry, heated air.
Before you buy, check the features. A humidistat—if it’s accurate—can help you maintain relative humidity between the optimal levels of 30 to 50 percent.
Put substance over style. Models resembling a radio, say, can liven up your decor but their output might be too low for the area you need to humidify. Some humidifiers with a touch of whimsy, however—like an owl model from Crane—also delivered on performance.
Check our humidifier buying guide for more tips on finding the right model in our Ratings. To learn how we test humidifiers in our labs, watch the video below.
A piece of home exercise equipment can be a pricey purchase, as our tests of treadmills show. Our top-rated nonfolding treadmill costs a cool $ 3,800. Spending that much can get you sturdier construction, better hardware, and more features. But you can get a decent machine that provides a great workout for less than a third of that price.
Consider the size. Most treadmills are about 6.5 feet x 3 feet. Folding treadmills are about half the length when folded. Don’t assume that because you buy a folding treadmill you’ll actually fold and stow it. If that feature is important, try folding the machine before buying to see how easy it is to do and whether folding makes it easier to store. You’ll also need adequate space in the open position—about two feet on each side and the back—to get on and off safely.
Think about assembly. A treadmill can weigh up to 400 pounds, so ask about delivery and check whether assembly is included or available at an additional cost. It might be worth it if you’re not particularly deft with a toolbox. It generally takes our experienced engineers about 1 to 2 hours to put together a treadmill, depending on the number of steps. Lifting heavy parts, applying grease, and working on your knees are part of the process. Some of the steps require two people.
Our treadmill Ratings include dozens of models that we evaluated on construction, ease of use, ergonomics, exercise range, and safety. Our treadmill buying guide has information on different types and brands, features to look for, and other shopping tips.
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