The holiday season may be over, but there are lots of places around the web to find deals throughout the year. Of course we offer deals through https://deals.tuaw.com and our 'deals' posts, but today I also want to tell you about two other services I use to find good prices. Then I'm going to end with a special tip that you can use to follow your favorite TUAW topics, writers or features, including our deals posts.
The first is called TV Bobber, which tracks "over 5,000 seasons of shows in high definition" in the US and UK iTunes stores, although UK tracking is going to go on hiatus during an upcoming renovation of the site.
I have been using this for awhile, and it is a great way to find out when TV shows go on sale on iTunes. You can track this via RSS at http://tvbobber.com/log?rss or on Twitter @TVBobber. There is no mailing list, but you could always point If This Then That at the RSS feed.
Bonus Tip: Nathan Swartzendruber, who runs TV Bobber, suggests that one of the best ways to save money on iTunes is to keep an eye out for iTunes gift cards to go on sale. He makes a good point; I've seen iTunes gift cards on sale for "spend US$10/get $15" or "spend $20/get $25," although sometimes you have to wait for physical cards to get mailed to you.
The second is a new-to-me discovery called "The Tracktor," which tracks prices on Amazon for customers in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Tracktor is a web service that will monitor specific items for you on Amazon's website, and send you email alerts when the price hits a specific price point. But that's really just the beginning. If you install the browser extension for Safari, Firefox or Google Chrome, you will get two other extremely useful features. First, when you visit a product page on Amazon's site, The Tracktor will show you a price history graph showing you previous prices for both new and used items. That way, you can see how the current prices compare to previous highs or lows. The second useful feature is that you can set an alert right from the Amazon page.
For example, I'd like to buy Hannibal, Season 1 on Blu-ray, but I'm not in any rush, so I can wait for it to go on sale. It's currently selling for $29.50 (new), but thanks to The Tracktor, I can see that in the past six months it has been as low as $19.99:
Data courtesy of TheTracktor.com
I set my price alert to $20 so if The Tracktor sees that the price is at (or below) that level, it will send me an email. This is a feature that I have wanted Amazon to offer for years, but of course it's not in the company's interest to help you delay your purchases.
The Tracktor cannot track prices for Kindle books (this is a limitation enforced by Amazon itself, as explained in the FAQ), but other than that, you can track just about anything that Amazon sells. There's no charge for the service. I assume that when you get an email notification from The Tracktor, it uses an affiliate referral code for Amazon. If so, that seems completely appropriate, since it is directly responsible for any purchases that I'd make through Amazon's site (and affiliate links don't raise the price that I'd pay by even $0.01).
Custom RSS Feeds + IFTTT.com = TUAW in Your Email
Here's something that I bet you didn't know about TUAW.com: We have a lot of RSS feeds. In fact, we (and by "we" I mean "our CMS") create RSS feeds for every category and every tag and every writer.
For example, let's say that you wanted an RSS feed that would only include Mac topics (excluding, for example, iOS). You could use an RSS feed of our "Mac" category, which can be found here: http://www.tuaw.com/category/Mac/rss.xml.
Want an RSS feed of just iOS posts? http://www.tuaw.com/category/iOS/rss.xml
Every post on TUAW.com is also tagged. You can see the assigned tag(s) by scrolling to the bottom of a post and clicking on (wait for it...) the "View Tags" link. For example, our "deals" posts are all tagged with "deals" so if you wanted an RSS feed for that tag: http://www.tuaw.com/tag/deals/rss.xml
Likewise, you can follow any tag by using the URL http://www.tuaw.com/tag/foo/rss.xml where "foo" is the tag that you want to follow. Each TUAW contributor has his/her own RSS feed as well, such as http://www.tuaw.com/editor/TJ-Luoma/rss.xml for my posts.
Why do I mention this when we've been talking about how to find deals online? Because if you combine that with IFTTT.com, you can create an automatic system to, for example, email you all of the articles tagged "deals" by plugging the URL for the deals feed (http://www.tuaw.com/tag/deals/rss.xml) into the "If This" part, and then have an email or other notification sent to you using the "Then That" part of the formula. This can be especially useful for something like "deals," where the price drop may only be good for a certain amount of time.
One important note: Tags on TUAW posts are added manually by the author of each article, and we strive to be consistent and reliable. However, we're not perfect, so it's possible we might miss a tag. You might also want to follow TUAW Twitter @TUAW and Facebook if you use those services.