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.