ALDI's special buy sale category this Saturday is heavy on tech, with laptops, MP3 players and TVs all on the list. We've filtered through what's on offer to identify what's a good deal, what's average and what's worth avoiding.
As usual, ALDI's gear is sold under its own store brand names, so if you're a big-name-only shopper, look elsewhere. If you are tempted, you'll need to be at your local ALDI close to opening time to be sure of scoring a bargain -- the best deals often sell out quickly. Some readers report that you can get lucky and pick up some items being put out the night before if you're in the store near closing time, but that's not a guaranteed strategy. Virtually all ALDI stores open at 8:30am on a Saturday; you can check your local store hours on the ALDI web site.
Note that we haven't tested these products; our comments are based on what you'll pay for equivalent gear elsewhere. Several of the items are good value, but others (especially the cheaper deals) can be had at similar or lower prices whenever you like, so diving on the ALDI option isn't necessarily wise.
On many of these products ALDI offers a 60-day no questions asked return policy. That's welcome, but bear in mind that its presence or absence doesn't affect your basic consumer rights: if a product fails or doesn't meet the stated specifications, you're entitled to a repair or a refund. (Saving a copy of the relevant product web page could be a sensible step.)
Medeon 15.6" Notebook ($569)
The specs on this machine are decent for the price: a 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-2370M processor, Windows Home Premium, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard drive, two USB 3.0 ports, DVD burner and a USB TV tuner thrown in. There's a two-year warranty. At 2.7kg, it's not the lightest machine out there, but going lightweight attracts a premium.
You can get similarly sized notebooks with the same memory and a slightly less gutsy processor for around $500, but it's rare to see a hard drive of 750GB. It's not impossible -- JB Hi-Fi has a similar Samsung notebook for $620, but that doesn't include a TV tuner.
Our verdict: Good price for a basic notebook.
23" Bauhn LED TV/DVD Player ($189)
Like most bargain TVs these days, this model includes a USB slot which you can plug a stick into to create a basic PVR. At this size, you're in definite second screen territory, so no smart TV or 3D options. Kogan's $189 model, the closest competitor we could find, has a smaller screen (19").
Our verdict: Cheapest option we can find for the size.
1TB Dual-Tuner PVR ($169)
$169 is substantially cheaper than most equivalently-sized PVRs (the nearest competition we found was $199). That said, you can pick up a 1TB drive for under $100 and plug it into a cheap (or existing TV), or buy a smaller-capacity PVR if you're not a heavy TV watcher.
Our verdict: A fair deal, but you could go the cheaper USB drive route.
Clock Radio With iPod Dock ($39.99)
$39.99 is not bad for an iPod dock radio, but you don't have to pay more than $50 for an unbranded dock most of the time.
Our verdict: Not that compelling.
Creative SBS A220 2.1 Speaker System ($26.99)
A quick search on staticICE suggests plenty of retailers have this for a similar price -- so what you're saving on here is postage as best. It's a rare example of a name-brand item on sale at ALDI, but not an extraordinary buy.
Our verdict: An unremarkable deal.
Bluetooth Headphones ($24.99)
$24.99 sounds cheap, but eBay has plenty of similar basic headphones for that price or lower, even including postage. That's not to say ALDI is overcharging, but it doesn't seem worth queuing on a Saturday just to grab these.
Our verdict: Skip it.
Sandisk 16GB USB Stick ($16)
Cheap USB sticks are everywhere. Plenty of places have a SanDisk-branded 16GB stick for less than this; you certainly can pay more, but a little shopping around will undercut this price.
Our verdict: No bargain here.
Remote Control Caddy ($12.99)
We're all for storing your remote somewhere other than the side of a couch. Whether this design suits you is as much a question of taste as price. You can spend less for a couch-side design from IKEA at $9.99.
Our verdict: Take it or leave it.
10-In-1 Universal Remote Control ($9.99)
This controls up to 10 devices. You can pay a similar price for unbranded remotes from others. One argument in its favour: it works with ALDI's own brands, which can be tricky to set with some other devices.
Our verdict: OK but not astonishing.
4GB MP3 Player ($9.95)
$9.95 is about as cheap as a 4GB basic player will get. But in the smartphone era, I can't see why anyone would want one.
Our verdict: If you put this in someone's Christmas stocking, they will hate you.