As any avid–and increasingly, non-avid–gamer can tell you, the Nintendo Wii is harder to find than an urban square mile without a Starbucks. Up until recently, I was one of those people vainly rechecking Amazon.com and calling every Best Buy, Circuit City, and CompUSA within a 30-mile radius to see if they had any in stock. It was frustrating, of course, but not for the reasons you may think. Constantly hearing “not in stock” wasn’t the problem; rather, it was annoying because the whole process took a lot of work. And this was after I thought I was smart to wait a couple of months after the initial release.
But then I discovered a much lazier, but ultimately more effective, approach when I stumbled across a Yahoo widget from OuttaStock.com. It constantly scans a selection of online stores to see who has them in stock; both the $250 standalone system and the pricier–and totally unnecessary–bundle with all the games that can run more than $600. And yes, these are real stores, not the repackaged systems sold on eBay. I downloaded it last Thursday, February 22, and when I logged onto my computer the next day, it told me Amazon had them in stock. I clicked through immediately, placed my order, and that was it. There was no hassle, no waiting in line, and no running to grab the last box on the shelf. After the five minutes it took me to place my order, the Wiis had already sold out and the Wii finder again went dark. And best of all, even though I chose the slow, free-shipping method, I received my Wii the next business day. If the above method doesn’t work, try FindNearby.net, which Rafe Needleman covered last month.