This is probably not the first and won’t be the last list for that purpose. It is also not complete, so please don’t blame me afterward.
* Make sure YOU know what you really want and need
* Make sure YOU know what you can live without
* MAKE A LIST
* Know your budget and try to stick to that number
* Use your favorite search engine to find independent reviews (forums, blogs, YouTube…)
* Don’t blindly trust manufacturer spec-sheets / sales propaganda
* Don’t solely base your purchasing decision on brand name or brand reputation or special promotion deals
* At least try to see through and analyze the price and upgrade policy for each manufacturer (higher base price + cheaper upgrades vs. lower base price + expensive upgrades vs. expensive everything)
* Get a demo unit of each candidate for a week and give it hell
* TEST TEST TEST (specs, performance, useability…)
* If you’re after a cheaper device you probably won’t get a demo unit, so try to find it at local electronics shops and test it there
* If you have friends with the same inclination, invite them over and let them do some testing as well. Don’t forget to reward them with beverages of their choice and probably food too.
* If you have to withdraw a significant percentage from your savings account (or you’re even intending to drain it entirely) –> read the list again!
Good luck to you, and may you never run out of flux!