Consumer Reports: Here's what to buy during the ongoing tech shortage

With so many adults still working from home, and many students beginning the new school year online, many shoppers are finding it difficult to get the devices that make remote work and learning possible.

Laptops, tablets, and other tech items are in short supply, or even sold out, at many places but Consumer Reports said there are ways you can find the products you need.

Two standouts in CR's laptop ratings, the Lenovo IdeaPad S340 and the Asus Chromebook Flip are especially hard to find. So what's a frustrated parent to do?

Consumer Reports' top tip for tech shopping during a pandemic is to stay flexible.

"See if you can find an equivalent model for the one that you're shopping for. You may also want to consider buying used or refurbished. And depending on where you buy it from, it may come with its own warranty," said Nicholas DeLeon, Consumer Reports' Tech Editor.

Because of the heightened demand, you need to move quickly when you see a model that interests you.

So to eliminate delays, create accounts on retailer websites in advance and make sure you have your logins and passwords handy.

Also, consider signing up for in-stock alerts. Some bigger retailers, like, Target and Walmart, will send you an email or push notification when certain items you're looking for are back in stock.

You can also use third-party sites like nowinstock.net and zoolert.com that check inventory across multiple retailers and alert you when an item is in stock.

A lot of people gravitate to Amazon, Best Buy or Walmart but you should also check out the websites of smaller retailers like Fry's, Micro Center, and Newegg. Adorama and B&H Photo. B&H also gets high scores for customer support, which is a bonus.

Also if you do buy a refurbished device, look for products that are "certified pre-owned" and always ask about the return policy. Some problems take time to surface, so best to buy from a retailer that gives you at least a month to return the product.
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