Budget online services: Warranties, PC repair, more
Store-bought warranties can increase the price of your electronics purchases substantially. In addition, with rising bankruptcy filings, purchasing an extended retailer warranty can be risky. SquareTrade is looking to make warranty shopping easy by giving consumers another way of protecting their high-priced gadgets. The company claims to offer warranties that are up to 40% less than what you'll find in most brick and mortar stores. We made a few comparisons and many warranties were indeed lower priced than their retailer counterparts. Sample prices include $149.99 to cover a $1,200 Dell XPS laptop (Dell's site lists a $200 warranty) and $29.99 to cover an 8GB Apple iPod touch (Apple's warranty costs $59). The site claims it will fix or replace your device within five days or you'll be reimbursed for the full price of the item. Shippable items are sent (prepaid) to a SquareTrade depot while bigger items such as TVs qualify for in-home repair. (A full list of SquareTrade's policies can be found here.) In addition, SquareTrade provides special coverage for refurbished items and devices purchased on eBay. For added savings, use coupon code "ALWAYS10OFF" to cut 10% off your order.
Need to scan some old photos, but don't have the money to invest in a scanner? ScanCafe can scan your slides, negatives, and photos, bringing them into the 21st century. Customers send their media to ScanCafe which then scans and restores each photo or slide. You can review them online and choose which ones you want burned to DVD. (You only pay for the ones that make it onto the DVD.) Pricing starts at $0.24 for one negative at 3000 dpi, $0.27 for one 8x10 photo at 600 dpi, and $0.29 for one 35mm slide at 3000 dpi. The process takes under 3 weeks and your originals are returned along with the DVD. In addition to scanning, ScanCafe also removes dust and scratches from your photos using Kodak's Digital ICE technology. Other media, such as newspaper clippings or hand-written letters can also be digitized for 99 cents per item.
With 24/7 availability, PlumChoice offers instant help for virus-ridden PCs or time-sensitive computer problems. The company's technicians access your computer remotely over a high-speed Internet connection. (On-site technicians are also available and deployed within 24 hours.) Plans start from $15.95/mo. which includes PC protection and backup. Other services, such as assistance with setting up a wireless network or securing that network, cost $71.95 and $35.95, respectively. (By comparison, Best Buy's Geek Squad charges $119.99 for network set up and $299.99 for virus diagnostic and repair.) In addition to Mac and PC support, PlumChoice can also help you set up new camcorders, Logitech Harmony remotes, and satellite radios (prices start at $44.95.)
Need to retouch some photos, but haven't a clue on how to use Photoshop? For $7 per photo, PicWash can retouch, airbursh, and fix your favorite snapshots. The service is very straightforward, simply upload your photo(s) to the site and PicWash will reduce facial shine, remove skin blemishes, whiten teeth, reduce wrinkles, or tweak the brightness of your photo. For an additional $3, you can submit your photos with comments instructing PicWash's photo editors what parts of your photo you want fixed. For $15 per photo, PicWash Slim will also make you look thin, removing cellulite and fat from your arms and legs for a slimmer physique.
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