Be aware of what you are buying – Buy smart, really smart
Be aware of what you are buying when it comes to computers and smart devices. With computers, it’s real easy to end up with refurbished systems, thinking that you are buying brand new. I have even seen major chain stores sell laptops brand new with refurbished hard drives. Hard drives are the weakest link in the chain when it comes to computers these days. You want something that has long life and is fast. Traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) are of ancient designs, are slow, produce heat, are less energy efficient and will fail with an average 2 to 5 year life span. Not to mention are sensitive to impacts and the slightest of tremors. Not the kind of gear you want in a modern laptop. Make sure when you purchase a new system that it has a Solid State Drive in it (SSD drive) at the very least. Typically you get more bang for your buck around the 250GB to 500GB sizes right now but hopefully that will change after the new year.
As for smart devices. Everything that I have seen in brick and mortar stores are first and second generation devices when third generation is already on the market. The only time I haven’t seen this is when I purchased an Amazon Echo at Staples. It was the new shorter, second generation device with improved audio, etc. The TP Link smart lights I have seen at Walmart were not the latest generation you get on Amazon but an older first generation variety. Same with the Netgear Arlo security cameras which you can find at both Walmart and Lowes. They were all first and second generation with the first generation being the least value since it uses a completely different type of battery than the second generation Arlo Pro and the third generation Arlo Pro 2 devices.
If you don’t know exactly what you are buying, you should consult with someone who has made a point to become professionally familiar with the sea of smart devices that have started flooding the market. This can become especially crucial when buying large ticket smart devices like refrigerators and such if you plan on investing in them to integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.