Opinion » Cybernaut

Cybernaut 14.19

When to jump

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Nobody has ever done a real study to see how much the average person spends on technology these days, but once the basics are covered — housing, food and transportation — it’s probably a safe bet that technology accounts for a significant chunk of whatever discretionary income we have left.

Televisions and computers remain huge purchases for most people, requiring much hemming and hawing at the electronics store. Lump in cell phones, cordless home phones, video game consoles, digital video recorders, personal video recorders, digital cameras, music players, and other gadgets, and the costs can be high. The added cost of maintaining an Internet connection, digital cable or satellite (with or without high-definition) and a cell phone plan also have a monthly impact on our bank accounts.

There are ways to reduce those costs, but the key is knowing what, and when, to buy.

The longer you wait before buying a technology, the less it will cost. But, the longer you wait, the less time you have to enjoy the gadget before it becomes obsolete.

It’s this line of thinking that has kept me from buying an iPod. I was all set to buy in more than three years ago when I heard about the colour screens. Then the colour screens came out, but I heard about the full screen model with a built-in phone. Now the phone is coming out and there are rumours of a full-screen iPod with FM radio and voice recording — the latter being a necessity of my job. At the same time Apple’s competition is getting better and better at what they do, offering cheaper and more capable players — most of which won’t play music and video downloaded from iTunes, which is kind of a “must” for me.

I’m also playing the waiting game with game consoles. When the Xbox 360 came out, I decided to wait and see what the Wii and PS3 looked like before making a decision. Now, firmly convinced that the 360 is the way to go, I decided again to wait for a rumoured version of the console with built-in wireless, a larger hard drive and HDMI port. That version came out last week, without the built-in wireless, but now I’m waiting for a version to come out this summer with 65 nanometre circuitry that will consume less energy and run cooler and quieter. Now I hear Microsoft is upgrading the video card to 65 nm in the fall.

If I wait until November to buy, future promised upgrades notwithstanding, the system will be two years old. If the lifespan of a console is five years, as Microsoft has suggested, I’m cutting things close.

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