As I noted back in January, the only smart way to buy Apple gear is to buy it refurbished.
You're guaranteed to save money while getting gear that's literally as good as new.
Just one problem: how can you keep tabs on Apple's latest refurb deals? Suppose, for example, you're in the market for a refurbished fourth-gen iPod Touch, the one with the built-in cameras and Retina display. (As it happens, that's exactly what my kids are after.)
For a long while, there weren't any for sale. I know because I checked the store almost daily--a hassle in every sense of the word. There were plenty of third-gen Touches, but no 2010 models.
What I needed was a way to get notifications of newly added items--and I found one: Refurb Tracker, which creates RSS feeds for Apple Store refurb pages.
First, you choose your country. That's right, this little service supports Apple Stores in more than a dozen countries, not just the U.S. Then, choose the kind of feed you want. Refurb Tracker gives you three choices: "Only products still available," "All history of new products apparitions," and "The big picture! Be notified when a product appears or disappears."
Finally, you choose your product categories--everything from "All products" to iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macs, MacBook Airs, and so on. What's nice is that as you modify any or all of these options, you get an instant preview of the feed in the window at right.
For my purposes, I chose iPod and "Only products still available." That gave me the current listings for the refurbished-iPod lineup. Once your feed is set, Refurb Tracker gives you the corresponding XML code, along with links for instantly adding the feed to Google Reader, Yahoo, and other services.
You can also receive alerts via e-mail, though the site doesn't list any info or settings pertaining to frequency.
Refurb Tracker's feeds are updated every 5 minutes, so you'll always have the most up-to-date listings. This is a great way to keep an eye out for, say, the refurbished 16GB iPad 2, which was selling for $349 but is currently out of stock. When it's available again, you'll be among the first to know.
If you've discovered a better way to track Apple Store refurbs, shout it out in the comments!