The top 10 sites for buying tech gadgets in Toronto
Computer and tech stores in Toronto are dominated largely by big chains - Future Shop, Best Buy, and the swirling money vortex that is the Apple Store. There's also a world of competition from international webstores, including Amazon. But don't rule out buying from a smaller company - it can present its advantages, including lower prices on some items, quick shipping, and the possibility of price-matching.
Here are my picks for the top sites for buying tech gadgets in Toronto.
In our informal Twitter poll of Toronto's tech nerds, this one came out overwhelmingly on top. They rival the big-box stores in terms of selection, with everything from specialty gear for PC-based gamers to home theatre items, as well as a healthy selection of refurbished notebooks, desktops and tablets. They also offer an optional one, two or three-year in-house warranty on your purchase (availability varies, depending on the item).
Canada's other favourite massive electronics supplier is technically based out of Richmond Hill, but they get the nod for their focus on overstock and open-box deals and some massive daily specials. If you're looking for something specific, they'll probably have it - in addition to computers and tablets, they also delve into home goods, outdoor and fitness gear, and even toys.
Mississauga-based NewEgg.ca is the Canadian offshoot of a U.S.-based consumer electronics retailer; though they don't have everything the American store does (what else is new?), there's a comprehensive selection of computers and peripherals, gaming consoles, and unlocked cellphones. Shipping varies by item, but shoppers have reported lightning-fast delivery.
Sure, their website looks like it hasn't changed since 2006, but Markham's InfoNec is a reliable standby for do-it-yourselfers seeking computer components (processors, memory, hard drives) and add-ons like scanners, speakers and printers. There's also a selection of notebooks from ASUS, Lenovo and Fujitsu. They offer $8.99 shipping over $100.
A reliable standby for Toronto photographers since time immemorial, Henry's still offers deals on top-quality photo gear - if you're looking for a lens, flash, bag or tripod, chances are, they'll have it. Bargain-hunters will want to check out their selection of used items (which currently stands at over 1,400). They also recently moved into smartphone and tablets (aka the cameras of the future), with a handy breakdown provided on the camera gear in each. Shipping's free on orders over $99.
Catering primarily to photography pros, Vistek's "consumer" webstore offers a full range of DSLRs, point-and-shoots, and photo gear, as well as computer peripherals like scanners and printers. Click over to the "pro photography" section for their most intense photo gear, including elaborate lighting rigs and nigh-on-indestructible camera cases. Shipping is free over $499 (but if you're here for the specialty stuff, that likely won't be a problem).
Maybe your gadget needs run more toward turntables and MIDI interfaces than graphics cards and RAM. Toronto has several audio-focused stores that let you shop their wares online, but the Queen West-based Moog Audio sets itself apart through a well-organized website and wide product scope that includes DJ gear, studio equipment, and musical instruments. They slack slightly on the fulfillment side with a seven-day returns policy, nebulous shipping-cost info and a 15% restocking fee on returns.
Play de Record
Toronto's premier DJ shop has managed to weather all of the music industry's post-MTV-era storms; they're now selling a healthy selection of DJ gear, studio equipment, and lighting rigs on their website (though you'll have to go to the brick-and-mortar store on Yonge St. for the vinyl). If you found a better deal on that mixing board or sampler online, they'll do price matching - call the store for details.
This recently-launched webstore deals only in envelope-pushing, startup-created gadgets (and provides all the backstory you could ever want through their e-magazine). The current roster of gadgets is mega-small, but impressive; between their transparent speakers, smart window AC units and at-home sous vide cookers, you could pretty much build the home of the future. They also handle preorders for some soon-to-be-available gadgets.
This Toronto-based startup makes buying and selling used iPhones simple, easy, and not at all sketchy. Phone owners use Orchard's iPhone app to wipe their old phones, assess its condition, and list them on the site; when a shopper purchases a phone, the seller sends the phone directly to you. If your secondhand phone doesn't show up as advertised, you're protected by a 30-day guarantee. Currently, you'll find a selection of iPhones 4 and newer, starting at $190.
Spy Depot Security
If you're trying to outfit a secret underground super villain lair, or if you're not sure which of your housemates has been stealing your soy milk, Orfus Road-based Spy Depot Security has a vast range of surveillance gear, video and audio recorders, and hidden cameras (mounted inside clocks, pens, smoke alarm, ties, plants, teddy bears...). There's also a "novelty" selection of mini replicas of cars from James Bond movies, if you're really into that whole spy thing.
Did I miss any? Add your favourite Toronto-based online tech and gadget store in the comments.
Photo of Transparent Speaker, available at The Blueprint.
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