CNet Shopper is part of CNet, a familiar source of information about computers, the Internet, and technology. As such, it is no surprise that CNet Shopper focuses on product and price comparison for computers and electronics products. As an added bonus of being affiliated with CNet, this shopping bot offers convenient access to detailed reviews and product information.|
Within its chosen focus on technology products, CNet shopper offers very comprehensive coverage of merchants and products. Computer systems including desktops, notebooks and Macintoshes are thoroughly covered, as are all types of computer software and games. Handheld computers such as Palm Pilots, Handspring Visors and other PDAs and PDA accessories are widely represented, as are computer peripherals (printers, scanners, modems, etc.), components (motherboards, processors, memory, cables, hard drives, cd-rom drives, etc.), add-on cards (graphics accelerators, sound cards, modems, etc.), and accessories. Likewise, there are a wide variety of electronics products categories including cameras (digital cameras, webcams, etc.), camcorders (digital, 8mm, VHS, etc.), home theater (DVD players, VCRs, televisions, surround sound audio systems, etc.), portable audio (mp3 players, discmans, walkmans, personal minidiscs, etc.), and home audio systems (speakers, receivers, cd players, tape decks, etc.)
Although most shopping bots allow you to browse products through a directory structure, it is usually more convenient to go straight to the search box. While CNet Shopper does offer a search facility, it is one comparison shopping service where I commonly browse through product categories using the directory. This is because unlike most shopping bots, CNet Shopper provides excellent tools and information for product comparison, not just price comparison.
Whether you use the search form or click down through the directory hierarchy, eventually you will get to a specific product. On this page each merchant selling the product is listed along with the prices. The default listing is not ordered by price, so be sure to click the link at the top of the price column in the table to re-sort the results. In addition to the price, CNet Shopper also lists the shipping costs, in-stock status of the product and location for each merchant. Knowing the state the merchant is located in is useful for gauging ground shipping times and estimating sales tax. CNet updates the prices and in-stock data twice each day, so the information is always fresh.
Additionally, CNet Shopper also has information to help decide between the various retailers. Each merchant has a rating on a 10 point scale from Bizrate, as well as an indicator identifying whether they are CNet certified. There are also links to more company information where you can find mail, phone, fax and email contact information for order and customer service departments. They also list merchant policies such as acceptable payment options, return policies, shipping methods and other important features.
By clicking on the "more product info" link at the top of the product page, you can access a wealth of information on the particular item and compare it to other similar products. You can browse detailed specifications or read the CNet editorial review, including a rating, summary review, and a full, in-depth product review. There are also user opinions and overall voting results on whether the product is recommended.
Best of all, you can browse lists of similar products and select those that you wish to compare. Then you can do a side-by-side comparison of up to 4 choices including product pictures, price ranges, CNet ratings, user ratings, and detailed product features.
For technology products such as computers, computer components & peripherals, and electronics, CNet Shopper is an excellent choice as price comparison service. While it would be wise to try additional shopping bots to be sure to find the best prices on a specific product you are ready to buy, CNet shopper is an excellent way to compare products side by side when deciding on the one you wish to buy. (11/20/00)