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Amazon Prime Day 2018: How to get the best tech deals

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Amazon Prime Day 2018 kicks off July 16. Prepare your bank account.

Prime Day 2018 is upon us. And that means if you’re an Amazon (AMZN) Prime member, someone who likes a good deal or simply have a pulse, you’re going to spend an inappropriate amount of time browsing the site for some incredible deals beginning July 16.

Naturally, you can expect plenty of tech deals this year. But before you click “Add to Cart,” or get fired for gross negligence for spending the entire 36-hour sale shopping rather than, you know, working, brush up on the best tips for buying everything from smartphones and laptops to TVs and smart home gadgets.

Whatever you decide to buy, we’ve got you covered.

What to look for in a new TV

If you’re hoping to score a sick new TV during Prime Day, and chances are there will be at least one, there are a few important thoughts to keep in mind. The first is size. My rule is always go big or go home. Just don’t go too big or it won’t fit in your room.

The point is, you want to find a television that’s the right size for your home. Check out the size of the TV on sale during Prime Day, then measure the space you want to place it to make sure it’ll fit. And remember, you’re definitely not going to be able to make your friends jealous with a new TV that’s small.

A Sony TV that was on sale during last year’s Prime Day.

If you’re buying that sweet new television to upgrade from your current 1080p set, you’ll want to purchase a 4K model. 4K TVs have a higher resolution than 1080p panels, creating a sharper image. It’s worth noting, though, that you’ll only really see a difference in sharpness on TVs that are 55 inches or larger. A 32-inch, 4K TV is pretty much pointless.

It’s also worth checking to see if your new TV offers high-dynamic range (HDR) compatibility. HDR increases the contrast ratio of the image on the screen making for a wider array of colors, as well as deeper blacks and brighter whites. Chances are, if you’re buying a TV that offers HDR capability, it’ll also be 4K. You’ll also want to make sure that the TV you’re buying is compatible with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, two of the more popular HDR formats.

A TCL TV from Prime Day 2017.

Finally, if you’re buying a new TV, make sure it has enough HDMI ports for all of the devices you want to connect. Sure, you can always get an HDMI splitter, but those don’t necessarily work with every device you use.

What to look for in a new smartphone

Past Prime Days have included sales on smartphones, which means we’ll likely see the same this year. But when you’re buying a smartphone online there are a few important options to consider.

First thing’s first: Make sure the handset you’re buying is compatible with the network you use. For instance, if you see a deal on a Huawei or ZTE smartphone, you might not be able to use it in the U.S. if you’re a Verizon or AT&T customer because of the handset’s antennas. Not every phone uses the same bands needed to be compatible on U.S. networks, especially if they’re from overseas companies.

If you’re interested in buying a smartphone during Prime Day, make sure it works with your carrier.

You’ll also want to look at how much storage the smartphone offers. If you tend to keep all your photos, music, movies, shows and documents saved on your phone rather than in the cloud, you’ll need a handset with a good amount of storage space.

I’d recommend going with a phone with 128GB of storage, just to make sure you have plenty to spare in the future. If you’re a serious storage hog, then opt for a handset with 256 GB. You can also check out smartphones with microSD card slots to add your own amount of storage.

Finally, make sure that the phone you’re buying is the right size for you. Some people prefer smaller handsets, others love pocket-busting behemoths. Just be sure to note the size and make sure the one you buy fits your needs.

What to look for in a computer

Should you find a sweet, sweet laptop for sale during Prime Day, don’t pull the trigger before you check out exactly what you’re getting. If you’re the kind of person who wants the best of the best when it comes to your tech, you’ll definitely want to look at the kind of processor, graphics chip and RAM comes packed into the machine you’re checking out.

Hoping for a laptop this Prime Day? You’ll need to make sure it offers the kind of specs for your needs.

You’re not going to want to buy a slick new laptop that has a two-year old processor and graphics chip that can’t handle the best games on the market. Do your research and make sure you’re getting a system with a CPU that’s from this or last year.

If you’re going to be doing some serious multitasking on your computer, you’ll want to get a machine with at least 6GB of RAM. Last year, Amazon was selling some completely insane gaming laptops, so buckle up, because this year could be even better.

Smart home devices

Got a smart speaker at home and want to grow your tiny electronic outpost into a fully connected digital empire? Then Prime Day might be the best way to get started. Importantly, you’ll have to make sure that whatever connected device you buy works with your particular system.

The vast majority of smart home devices work with Amazon’s Alexa, the most popular system available. Up next is Google’s Home, followed by Apple’s (AAPL) HomeKit. If you want to set up an Apple-centric smart home system, you’ll have to make sure that your devices are compatible with HomeKit.

The Amazon Echo dot.

Got an Echo in the house? Then you can buy pretty much any device; it’ll likely work without issue. More of a Google (GOOG, GOOGL) fan? You’ll also find what you’re looking for. But if you’re an Apple person, getting the smart home device you want could be more difficult since there aren’t as many on the market. All that being said, just be sure that the device you’d like to buy actually works with the smart home assistant you’re using.

Now grab your credit cards, check your bank account and get ready to drop some cash on what should be some solid tech deals. Or just browse aimlessly until you stumble on a price cut for bulk underwear purchases. At least that’s what I’ll be doing.

Illo by: David Foster

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