You've waited this long but can't hold off any more. The Christmas clock is ticking. It's time to make your move and get those last-minute gifts.
That gut-wrenching dread can be avoided. The Web can help.
Various comparison-shopping Web sites have popped up over the last few years and are chock-full of product information and price listings, helping shoppers avoid scrambling from one brick-and-mortar shop to another in search of the Big Bargain.
Take shopping.yahoo.com/imv. It allows users to search for products online and compare prices from dozens of sites.
Last week, its Top 10 list of cameras had the Canon PowerShot S400 Digital ELPH ranked at the top. It provided a full list of product specifications, a description of the camera, reviews from PC World and users, and advice on buying cameras.
That would be enough to arm most last-minute shoppers, but the price comparisons are the hallmark. A total of 115 merchants were listed. The prices ranged from $369 to $450 just in the first 20 on the list. The top DVD, a four-disc collection from the "X-Men" series, had 10 merchants, with prices from $25.48 to $36.41. The product info included a synopsis, user reviews, cast and credits, photos and clips and awards.But several other sites offer price comparisons and usually a buy-it-on-the-Web link. Last week, Internet shoppers could have found that:
A Palm Tungsten C PDA had prices from six stores, running from $439 to $499, at www.bestwebbuys.com.
A Sony Vaio Z1RA notebook computer had prices ranging from $1,700 to $2,395 from 28 stores at bizrate.com.
A Sony KV-27FS100 television had prices ranging from $384 to $554 at the site www.mysimon.com.
A "Shenmue 2" video game for Xbox was available from $10 to $47, with prices available from 21 stores at the Web site www.shopping.com.
A Zire 71 PDA, complete with 14 reviews and prices from 47 stores, had prices ranging from $195 (for a refurbished model) to $299.98 at the site www.pricegrabber.com.