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Buying Tech Wisely

November 17, 2017
Alfa USB WIFI adapter

Technology like Cameras, Televisions and Laptops are difficult to shop for and it is always hard to find a good deal.  It is easy to find good prices but that does not necessarily mean it is a good deal.

There are 2 key factors that determine if you are getting a good deal: the first is price, obviously getting something cheaper is a good thing.  However the other factor is quality, which can be trickier to define.  The important thing to realize is that something that is cheap is not necessarily a good deal.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.

When deciding if something is a good deal, consider that you can categorize any tech into 3 main groups: high-end/bleeding edge, middle of the road, and low-end/end of life.   When looking at high end, always remember that high end newer equipment is always marked up.  You will not often find a good deal when shopping high end as the manufacturer and retail know people are willing to line up in the cold to buy the new iPhone or preorder the latest game so they know you are also willing to pay more for the privilege of being the first to own it.  Also when shopping low end, keep in mind that in many cases low end is code for :”we need to get rid of this old crap”.  Many of the low end and on sale devices are cheap because they need to move the old tech to make room for the latest and greatest model.

So when shopping always try to stay in the middle of the road category, this category will always have the highest volume being sold, meaning you have scales of economy working in your favor so the more volume they are selling the cheaper it is to manufacture, and thus to sell it for.  You also do not need to worry about over paying for tech that is bleeding edge or buying cheap and getting stuck with something that is obsolete before you open the box.

So how do you know if you are shopping in the middle of the road category?  Simple, stay as close to the middle of the road price range the store is offering.  If they have laptops ranging from $500 to $1500 try to shop in the $1000 range.  This strategy will get you the best value for the price you pay.

Now how do you go a step further and get a really good deal?  Easy, you get a middle of the road device on sale right?  Well… sort of…  The problem is that a sale on a middle of the road item can often be a signal that, the device is no longer middle of the road, but is an  older model middle of the road device starting to be transitioned to the low-end.  The trick when looking at sales of middle of the road items is checking the specs on the sale item.  If its specs do not match the rest of the middle of the road items, than it is not a deal but something being moved to the low end category or was a low end item marked up before putting it on sale.  However if its specs do match the rest of the middle of the road items, than it is a genuine sale.

In reality however, the profit margins are so slim in the tech industry and it is so competitive, finding a good deal is often very tricky so I do not spend too much time looking for a good deal, they are too rare and often not worth the time and effort to find.  Also keep in mind when buying tech, a 3 year life span is expected, in fact accounting rules in many regions say that companies should depreciate tech over 3 years.  This means that after 1 year a $1000 laptop is only worth $667, after 2 years it is only worth $333 and after 3 years the device has absolutely no financial value to the company.  It is however common to have a laptop or camera last well past 3 years, but it is important to realize that these devices are not built to last forever.  I have an analogy that I like to tell people when talking about device life-cycle… it is well-known that dogs and cats typically live 1/7th the length of people, so a 1 year old dog is really 7 years in human years and a 2 year old is 14 in human years.  This same thing can be said for computers given that they are designed to last for 3 years.  This means a 1 year old computer is 33 years old in human years (approaching middle age), a 2 year old computer is 66 (at retirement age) and a 3 year old computer is, well ancient.  So think about that 6 year old laptop you may still be using and think about this… how many 198 year old people do you know?

You can also use sites like Amazon to check where an item falls in the price range or if it is a good price and use their extensive reviews to confirm if you are getting a good product.

From → RV Tech

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