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Shopping Beyond Compare

Looking for the best prices and products on the Web? See how these sites can help.

Harried holiday shoppers don’t have the luxury of comparing prices — but that’s not a luxury on the Web, which lets you compare features and prices quickly. Here’s our comparison of four of the top product-comparison services — plus one new comparison-shopping technology.

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Site What It Compares What It Shows Best Bet Needs Work Beyond Compare When…
Excite Product Finder www.jango.excite.com 275 merchants, 8 auction sites, and 9 classified sites in 35 product categories Price and key features (if applicable) — plus “Buy,” “Bid,” or “See Ad” buttons that help you complete a transaction Detailed pull-down menus help clarify what you’re looking for. Plus, you can search for prices or reviews. There are no book or music categories, because Amazon.com and Music Boulevard have exclusive retailer deals. …you have a rough idea of what product you want, but you’re not exactly sure about it.
bottomdollar.com www.bottomdollar.com 10 to 15 leading merchants in 11 product categories Price, along with a “Details” link that takes you to specific product pages on a merchant’s site It’s incredibly easy to use: Choose a category, type in a key word, and hit “Search.” Money isn’t everything. A search for a cordless phone rated nine products by price. But what about features and quality? …you know what you want and are looking for the cheapest price.
mySimon.com www.mysimon.com More than 1,000 merchants in 45 product categories, with 200 new merchants being added each week Price and availability Specific product categories. There’s even one called “Holiday & Seasonal,” with prices on Christmas decorations. The product categories are almost too specific. It takes a lot of clicks to find the one you’re looking for. …you know what you want and are looking for the best buy.
CompareNet www.compare.net 60,000 models of more than 100 products in seven categories Manufacturers’ suggested retail prices, along with detailed product information The service’s extensive editorial content lets you compare products and features side by side. If you’re looking for the best price, this isn’t the site for you. …you’re not sure what you want. (Once you’ve decided on a brand and model, use another comparison-shopping service.)
Inktomi Shopping Engine www.inktomi.com [Shopping Engine is an enabling technology, not a comparison site.] Products in 12 categories — from computers to office supplies — offered by more than 200 merchants A database of prices collected daily from merchants, auctions, and classified sites The technology searches Yellow Pages and lists merchants, with address, phone number — even a link to a map. The technology won’t be available until 1999. (The site offers only a description of Shopping Engine.) …you know exactly what you want, and you just need to know where you can get it online cheaply — or offline conveniently.
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