I’m gonna second what a lot of SOCALUS said.
There are two advantages to buying retail instead of online (which I had taken for granted after all these years of NewEgg, EBay, Pricewatch):
One, You get to inspect the actual item itself and find out where it was manufactured.
Two, There are all sorts of sales and inventory clearances that can land you some insane deals.
Retail hunting can be time consuming, but pretty rewarding if you search long and hard enough. I’ve found that you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything “Made in Japan.” These will usually be TYs, or Japanese-made Maxells and TDKs, which are all good media. Also, search through all those coupon ads that you get in your junk mail; a lot of times, you can spot a nice sale going on at your local computer store.
When buying online, you really can’t go wrong with guys like NewEgg and Rima. But the advantages of the retail scene are often overlooked.
Ebay is also interesting. You’re usually pretty safe when you buy branded media that is factory sealed. You can usually ask the seller to look directly on the packaging and tell you the “Made in —” I’ve landed a couple steals this way. Also, look for those inexperienced individual sellers - you know, the kind with the auction description that says something like, “Bought this 50-Pack of Maxell DVD+Rs for my camcorder. Used 6 of them, and then sold my camcorder, so I don’t need them anymore.” Usually, the bids on small auctions like that don’t go very high and it gives you a nice sniping opportunity.
Hope those tips helped. Good huntin’.