Repair or Replace Broken Electronics?

Some electronic items and gadgets are worth paying to have repaired, and some are not. If the item isn't covered by a warranty or service plan and you aren't sure which way to go, consult a reputable repair service and get an estimate for the cost of repairing. Then you have the information you need to make an informed decision.

There are a number of ways to find an electronics repair shop, including online searches and asking friends for recommendations. Consider how Angie's List may be of help, as it gives members access to local consumer reviews on electronic repair services and service providers in more than 550 other categories.

Match the Item to the Technician

Electronics include anything from MP3 players to circuit boards. Finding the right repair shop for your device depends on the experience and specialty of the shop. If the repair shop is not knowledgeable about your device, ask for a reference or check Angie's List.

Look for a repair service that specializes in the kind of item you need fixed. For instance, take your laptop or other computer to a computer technician, who may also be able to remove viruses or otherwise improve your computer's performance. Electric musical instruments and amplifiers should be taken to an individual or shop with experience repairing music gear.

Angie's List offers local consumer reviews on more than 550 service categories, including electronics and gadget repair, computer repair and musical instrument repair.

Protecting Electronics from Power Surges

One way to end up with a broken electronic device is to leave it plugged into an outlet during a power surge. Use surge protectors and power strips to protect your electronics. Whole-house surge protection is an option for protecting all incoming lines, including cable and phone. The cost for whole-house surge protection depends on how many lines you want to protect. Consult an electrician for an estimate.

Electricians are a core category for Angie's List, which offers members access to local consumer reviews on service providers in more than 550 categories.

Is an Extended Warranty Worth It?

When you buy an electronic item, you'll likely be offered the chance to buy an extended warranty, also known as a service plan. Extended warranties are insurance-like products that cover specified situations, for an additional cost, beyond the manufacturer warranty, which is included in the item's price.

Generally, it  makes sense to buy an extended warranty if the device is likely to fail during the time period the warranty covers. It's a common misconception that such plans cover anything that goes wrong during the coverage period. If you are considering buying a service plan, be clear about what is covered, and for what time period.

Tips for Maintaining Electronics

Two ways to take care of your electronics:

• A common myth about electronics is that you should drain the battery before recharging. Actually, this suggestion for draining applies only to devices with nickel cadmium batteries. Most electronic devices use Lithium-ion batteries. Completely draining a lithium-ion battery may harm it or shorten its life span.

• Avoid exposing your electronic devices to extreme heat or cold. If a device has been exposed to extreme conditions, allow it to return to room temperature before turning on the power.

Recycling Electronics

If you decide to trash a broken or outdated electronic item, considering e-cycling instead. That's a term for recycling electronics, which otherwise end up in a landfill. When you shop for a new item, ask if the store has an electronics recycling program.

Be aware that some states, including North Carolina, have mandated the recycling of electronics or are considering such a move.

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