You know what they say about a fool and his money...

There are those who like to walk in and out of shops [whether dingy or up-market] in search of an elusive item, all the time comparing prices and finally deciding where to buy it from. However, for those who don't suffer from the physical version of the "shop-till-you-drop" syndrome, we give you...online shopping.

The concept of e-shopping promised to change the normal mode of buying stuff. So it has...and how!

With hundreds of thousands of virtual malls, right from the big guns to the local grocer [or thereabouts], this is the simplest way for all those who don't have the patience or time to go out of their houses or the country [as the case may be]

So arm yourself with that little piece of plastic and begin to splurge. From now on,you can only "drop" if someone pulls your chair out from under you!

http://www.esmarts.com/

This is a good option before you start to splurge. The site does not sell anything but instead aims at helping those who want to buy something. It has a lot of options that make it quite a decent guide to Web shopping.

There are the usual list of options of what you may want to buy and the site showcases some of the best sites in that category. Apart from that, it has something for the free-loaders [and which of us isn't one?] It has a list of sites that promise free gifts, albeit those are only on purchase of other stuff. There are also references to sites that have contests, though that feature didn't seem to be working when we checked out the site. The selection of sub-categories within each choice is quite exhaustive and you should easily find sites for whatever you're looking for.

http://shopping.yahoo.com/

Voted by most reviews as quite the most comprehensive all-in-one store online. We found nothing to suggest anything to the contrary.

This site has a vast category, not only of goods but also of shops featured on it. The number of goods on offer is quite phenomenal. You can thus pick from the best departmental shops, which also happen to be very expensive. So, there is the "Editor's Pick" section which features gifts under $10, $20 and so on. There are also listings of sales.

To help the consumer, they have a special feature called "Wallet". This stores your billing and shipping details so that you don't have to enter them every time you buy something. Peace of mind, wot? There are also shopping points so that you can redeem them. Very good place to begin shopping.

http://www.shopping.altavista.com/

Another one of the biggie shopping malls. But doesn't quite come up to the standards set by the above-mentioned one.

It possesses all the usual list of brand names and categories to choose from and the range of stuff on offer is quite decent. What is unique is their marriage shop which has a lot of good stuff for prospective grooms and brides.

This site has a well-organized point system, which starts right from the time you register. There are points for everything, including viewing the different category pages. Contrary to most of these so-called "redeemable" points, the rewards are very nice. Might just be worth the effort to buy from here occasionally.

http://www.amazon.com/

Amazon was one of the Web's earlest and most famous shopping site. That magic is still there today, despite their recent slump in fortunes.

Self-titled as the biggest repository of books on the Web, Amazon truly boasts of an awesome range. There are books in any category you may want and some pretty obscure books can be found here, too. The site helps you search either by title name or author or genre and the results are good.

Besides the books, it also has stuff on all the normal stuff, like music, electronics, home, et al. Their options on gift vouchers is quite good and you can try out their suggestions for gifts to buy.

http://www.celticlinks.com/

Think of Ireland and you visualise lonely moors, leprechauns, wild cliffs and alcohol. Celticlinks attempts to bring a little of that Irish available to you.

The site is a brilliant showcase of Irish culture. You can look through the vast range of Irish literature or check out their music. Then there are sections on clothing, which features some typical classic and everyday Irish clothing, and art, which has all kinds of paintings.

But our money is on the photo gallery segment, which has some really beautiful and haunting views of the Emerald Isle. Worth a visit even if you don't want to buy anything.

http://www.cadeauxdumonde.com/

This is another speciality shop; and a classy one at that.

The site features items from Asia,Africa,Latin America and the Caribbean. There are good segments on all of them with some really classy and ethnic work available. The items are quite authentic and would really be a valuable addition to any household.

The shop has a good range and the stuff isn't too expensive.

http://www.thesportsstore.com/

There are a lot of fitness freaks out there as well as sports buffs. This is the ideal site for all of you.

The site features a large range of products from all the major American and European leagues. You can buy the memorabilia of all your favourite organisations over here. Besides this, they also have sports gear for a large variety of games. In each segment, there is an exhaustive list of things you can buy. Imagine, you can buy soccer goals posts and nets, too!

There are also a number of brands here which just about cover anything under the blanket of sports gear...and that too at decent rates.

http://www.advanceland.com/

There has to be something for all you techno-junkies out there and this site should suffice.

The store has a large segment on computers, hardware and software. There is also a help section which should guide you through. But besides this, there are also segments on music where CD's are sold. Here, you can listen to the music before you actually decide to buy it. Nice, isn't it?

http://www.hollywoodshopping.com/hn/shopping/index.html

This is definitely for anyone with "starry" visions.

This site is the best one for anything to do with the movie industry and has a lot of stuff. There are the usual movies which can be bought, either on cassette or DVD's. These ar divided into different sections according to genre, year or director which makes it easy to find any movie. Also, there is a lot of supporting merchandise in the form of posters, books, etc.

Besides this, there are unique features to this site...like software which helps you to learn to be a scriptwriter. Plus, there are details of awards and details of seminars.

http://www.thinkgeek.com

Easily one of our favourite sites in this round-up is ThinkGeek.com, an online store for the thinking geek. The site has some great items for sale, including Linux and Perl T-shirts, caps, keychains, lava lamps and of course, all manner and shape of electronic gadgets and thingamabobs. Well-organized and thoughtfully-designed, ThinkGeek may not be one of the Web's largest sites...but for our money, it has some of the coolest stuff for geeks on the Web.

And that's about it for this week. See you soon!

This article was first published on 26 Jul 2000.