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Relaunched Circuit City site is a triplet

After closing its stores, electronics retailer gets a Web relaunch that closely resembles the sites of CompUSA and TigerDirect, also run by Systemax.

It wasn't long ago that I used these pages to write Circuit City's eulogy. At the time, many of us thought the company would be gone forever. Oh, how wrong we were.

Last week, Circuit City came back to the Web. On May 19, Systemax, the company behind TigerDirect and CompUSA, purchased the Circuit City brand and Web site for $14 million. It took only a few days for Systemax to populate the site with products. And now it's live.

Systemax's decision to acquire Circuit City shouldn't be a surprise. In 2008, the company acquired CompUSA's brand and domain for a discounted price. Systemax then relaunched CompUSA.com. Today, it even operates a series of CompUSA brick-and-mortar stores.

There's currently no indication that Systemax will be opening Circuit City-branded brick-and-mortar stores. Right now, it seems that the company is focusing mainly on CircuitCity.com.

I've spent considerable time on the site, evaluating its design and comparing offers to see if it's a place worth spending cash. And after just a few seconds, it quickly became clear that it's basically just CompUSA.com (or TigerDirect.com) with a different name and logo.

Circuit City
Circuit City's Netbooks listing. Don Reisinger/CNET

Design
Each product you're looking for on CircuitCity.com is easily accessible by using the site's search feature. Its categories are descriptive and useful. Overall, it's a nicely designed site.

But once you get past the home page, you'll find that every CircuitCity page is almost identical to CompUSA and TigerDirect pages. So if you're looking for Netbooks, you'll find the same listing of products with the same prices, containing the same pictures and the same "add to cart" buttons. The only difference between those pages is the logo and the navigation bar above the products.

When you click on an individual product on CircuitCity.com, you'll find, in most cases, the same listing on its sister sites. The purchase process was also the same.

I contacted Systemax's public-relations team to see if it could highlight exactly what's different about these sites besides their domains. The company declined to comment.

CompUSA
CompUSA's Netbooks listing. Don Reisinger/CNET

Deals
When I started comparing deals on Circuit City to those on other sites, I was limited in my comparison. Circuit City's prices are the same as those you'll find on CompUSA or TigerDirect. In my search, I couldn't find a single product that was priced differently.

When I compared pricing on Circuit City to sites that aren't owned by Systemax, I was pleasantly surprised. The site often beat Best Buy prices. Its pricing compared nicely to NewEgg on a few products for which I searched. And in some cases, it matched Amazon.com's pricing. That said, both Amazon and NewEgg did tend to offer lower prices on many products.

Regardless, I think you'd be happy with the prices Circuit City offers. Similar to TigerDirect, Circuit City's products are being offered at a discount that makes shopping at CircuitCity.com more practical than ever.

Bottom line
You're probably wondering if Circuit City should be added to your list of desired online retailers. After perusing the site for the past few days, considering its offers, and evaluating its design, I'd say that it's a fine online store. But if you're currently a TigerDirect shopper, or you like CompUSA's site, additionally checking Circuit City's site for deals is probably a waste of time--a duplication of efforts not likely to yield any benefit.

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