Companies in the tech industry love to tout their latest and greatest must-have gadgets. Cell phone providers are a great example. We’re constantly bombarded with ads for the newest smartphones, which cost only $200 with a 2 year contract! What they don’t tell you is that today’s new device is tomorrow’s outdated technology.
This is an idea I first became aware of from Clark Howard, a consumer expert and radio show host.
The problem with always buying the latest technology is that devices are nearly obsolete as soon as the box is opened. By that point, companies have already moved on to promoting the next greatest thing.
My wife and I have been overtaken by tablet envy. We had been in the market for our first tablet for several months, waiting for the right deal to come along. This week that deal came and we decided on an iPad 2. You might be thinking that we’re a little behind the times since it’s 2012 and the iPad 3 (“new iPad”) just came out. But the $500 price tag of a new iPad was out of reach for us. After visiting Apple’s website we found that we could get a refurbished iPad 2 for $350, which is very reasonable for a device that just a year ago many experts were calling the greatest tablet ever.
Apple includes the same warranty with refurbished devices as with new ones, which shows you they really believe in their products. They even replace the battery and outer shell, which are the two parts that take the most wear.
That the iPad 3 came out recently doesn’t change the fact that the iPad 2 is a wonderful product. I’ve seen reports that the new retina display is causing all sorts of issues — overheating and long charge times — in addition to reports that wi-fi reception isn’t as good with the iPad 3. The absence of these issues, combined with a much lower price tag, means that the iPad 2 is still a viable product and a true bargain.
This trend can be applied to many other categories of devices such as HDTVs, digital cameras, GPS units and laptops. Early adopters pay steep prices for the privilege of being among the first to get their hands on new technology.
For the frugal among us though, buying current technology that meets our needs doesn’t have to break the bank. Waiting a year or even a few months can mean big savings, or in some cases more features for the same price. Take HDTVs for example. In 2008 the average 32-inch LCD TV cost over $850. Today you can get one for as low as $199, and it’s likely to have more features than the original models.
Spending more money to get the best possible product is a losing proposition. New products will come out every day, making your device obsolete faster than you might imagine. Avoid state of the art technology and your wallet will thank you.
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