Consumer Reports tracks the prices of lots of products all year long, which means we can let you know which month (or, in some cases, months) you can find the deepest discounts on those items.
The five products listed below should be available at their lowest annual price in April. Just keep our usual caveat in mind: Great great discount offens occurs at the end of a season when inventories are thin, so you may not have a huge selection from which to choose.
As a result, it's important to check our buying guides (and for subscribers to check our Ratings and Reliability data) to make sure you also get a great performing product.
Want to know what's on sale the rest of the year? See our calendar of deals.
––Mandy Walker (@MandyWalker on Twitter)
As temperatures rise, retails want to move out spring gear to make way for summer goods. As a result, you'll find good deals on pring clothing this month.
Time it right. You'll get the deepest discount on spring gear by timing it right, say the editors at Shop Smart magazine. It has found Kohl's fans could head to the "Gold Star Clearance" racks, where prices are slashed up to 80 percent on weekend nights. Every Wednesday, shoppers who are 60 years old and older received an extra 15 percent off. At Target, women's clothing was generally marked down on Tuesdays, men's on Wednesday, and kids' on Mondays. Markdowns at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx usually happened on Wednesday. Each store can be different and the policies can change at any time, so have a chat with store salespeople to find out what the deal is in the stores you frequent.
Look for deals from other seasons. If you can find winter clothing on the racks in stores, the prices should be slashed. And luxury consignment shops are good places to find first rate deals on second-hand designer goods any time of year.
Desktops deliver more performance for the money than laptops and are less costly to repair. They allow for a more ergonomically correct work environment, let you work on a larger screen, and typically come with better speakers. Desktops are available in various styles and configurations, all designed to appeal to different tastes—and uses.
But, with the exception of all-in-one or compact computers, most take up a lot of space, even with a thin monitor. For tips on getting the right model for you, read our buying guide. To see which models did best in our lab tests, subscribers should check out our Ratings.
Think about type. All-in-one models incorporate all components, including the monitor, in one case. The components are tightly packed behind and underneath the display, making them difficult to upgrade or repair, but they can be space-savers. Compacts or slim desktops are ideal if you lack the space under your desk or you plan to put the computer on your desk. Like their larger brethren, compact desktops tend to be inexpensive, but they also may be more difficult to upgrade and fix. Full-size models require a lot of room under or on top of your desk, but they are the least expensive and the easiest to upgrade and repair. They also offer the most features and options.
Before you toss an old model, try recycling. Most manufacturers have recycling programs that help you to dispose of your old computer, but the programs vary considerably by company.
DWhether you're looking for a basic digital camera (simple point-and-shoots with just the features needed for routine shots), or an advanced model (feature-laden cameras that include sophisticated models that let you change lenses), now is a good time to shop. Our digital camera buying guide and our Ratings give you the details on different models, and infomation on features and brands.
Do your research. Buying a digital camera can be confusing. There are hundreds of cameras available at many different types of retail outlets (online and in traditional stores), with prices ranging from $75 to several thousand dollars. 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 respective character traits.
Laptops let you use your computer away from your desk, but you pay for that mobility with a keyboard that's a little more cramped, and a higher price. They're also more expensive to repair than desktops.
Whether your main consideration is portability or power, screen size will be an essential factor in deciding which type of laptop is right for you. To help you select the right model, see our buying guide. Subscribers can see our Ratings and reliability data.
Ergonomics can make or break a laptop Try it before you buy it, if you can. The keyboard shouldn't bend under continuous tapping, the touchpad should be large enough so that your finger can cover the span of the screen without repeatedly lifting it, and touchpad buttons should be easy to find and press.
Carry it around for a few minutes. Make sure it isn't too heavy or too big. If it's been on for a while, feel the bottom. A laptop shouldn't get uncomfortably hot during use, and it should run quietly. Finally, manufacturers are emphasizing design as much as substance; find a laptop that suits your style.
Even if you don't plan to shop for a mower, you could end up doing so if you own an older model and it breaks. The latest data from the Consumer Reports National Research Center show that push mowers usually aren't worth fixing after four years and self-propelled mowers after five years. Older tractors might be worth repairing, but getting them to and from the shop can add expense.
Consider how you'll use it. Most models come ready to mulch, bag, or side-discharge clippings. But mulching or bagging with a riding machine usually requires a kit that costs $50 to $500.
Check the features and controls before you buy. Most tractors and riders let you speed up or slow down with a convenient pedal instead of a lever. Among self-propelled mowers, Toro models let you vary speed simply by pushing the handlebar, while Hondas let you adjust the ground speed without removing your hands from the handlebar.
For more tips, read our lawn mower and tractor buying guide; subscribers can also review our Ratings.
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