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The Lowdown on Gadget Protection

Whether to buy an extended warranty or service plan for a new gadget is a question for most shoppers. Now, with more players in the marketplace, where to buy one may be the more important question.

In most cases, protection plans aren’t a great deal. “Painting it with a broad brush, it’s usually a bad idea,” says Dan Ackerman, a senior editor with electronics review site CNET. “You’re going to spend more buying the warranty than you’ll get back [in protection].”

Still sold on the idea? There are plenty of options. Manufacturers including Dell and Apple offer them, as do retailers such as Best Buy (BBY) and Wal-Mart. There are also third-party sellers, notably SquareTrade.com.

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