Buying the right technology at the right price can be challenging. We are surrounded by new shiny technologies that make big promises but don’t always deliver. Today’s rapidly changing technology landscape means careful consideration must be taken to ensure the right purchasing decision has been made.
Keep the following in mind and you will be on your way to making the right choice and getting the best price.
Is it the right tool?
Technology is just that, a tool. It may be a tool that provides only entertainment, but still it is still just a tool. The best technology provides a seamless experience with no barriers to use while being enjoyable and durable. Buying a technophobe a fancy thing that does far more than required may be a huge mistake. A good example can be found in the computer industry. If a user is simply going to browse the internet, jot some notes down and enjoy music and photos on their computer, they will be best served by a simple device that doesn’t muddle up the experience and doesn’t ask more of them than can be provided.
Today’s surge in HDTV, Gaming Consoles Tablet Computers and Netbooks is a result of people simplifying the tools they use for the majority of their computing experience. You don’t need the latest greatest processing machines to look at the latest photos from the Boy Scout Jamboree. Buying a powerhouse computer for Grandma could be a great waste of money. Better to get her an Xbox 360, a copy of God of War and show her how to view photos on her television.
Are there ongoing fees?
Some technologies are subsidized with ongoing subscription fees and long-term contracts. If you were to look at the costs between an iPhone and an iPod Touch, very similar devices if compared without the phone features, the price difference is immense. As of 11/01/2010, an 8GB iPhone 3Gs will cost you at least $1,058.76 after your two year contract is up, while an 8GB iPod Touch costs $229.00. If you used only the gaming and Home networking features of the iPhone, you would be wasting over $800. GPS devices with subscription based traffic are another good example of a system with ongoing costs. Find out if the technology is useless without subscription services, or if they still retain usefulness in case you feel you want to cancel the service. Figure subscription services and contract length into the cost of the technology.
Are there consumables?
Batteries and printer toner/ink are the most common consumable in today’s technologies. Find out what type of batteries your technology takes, whether it is user-serviceable, and how long it will take normal use to need battery replacement. Figure the cost of battery replacement into the cost of the device. If you are buying a printer, look into cost per page. A low price printer may cost hundreds of dollars more when ink prices are taken into consideration.
What do other people think about it?
Once you’ve found the technology you like, plug the model number into your favorite search engine and read up on customer reviews. If it is a new piece of tech, you may not see a good number of customer reviews, but if it has been around for a while, chances are there are many opinions out there. You may see a mix of great and horrible reviews for any given product. Look for patterns in quality, support/service and overall satisfaction and always read with a grain of salt.
What is the best price?
Finally, start digging for a deal. I myself love to use Google shopping. They go out and find the best prices for millions of products and list them in that familiar googley way. I get the best results by typing the model number into Google, hitting search, and switching to the ‘shopping’ link at the top. Then I sort by price and click around. Often you will find the lowest prices on refurbished items or items on eBay. This is sometimes OK, but if it means I get a shorter warranty, or no warranty at all, or if it is something that has batteries or consumables or can be damaged by water, I skip the refurbish and auction sites.
Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse
As an avid consumer of technology, I have learned over time that I should be very careful before buying something that doesn’t meet my expectations. I bought a Kaossilator with dreams of integrating it into one of my guitars. I had fantasies of laying down some sick beats, deep bass lines and ripping leads with the touch pad from the Kaossilator to the wild applause and adoration of the audience. For those of you that don’t perform live rock music, this is the impetus for every thing we do, wild applause and adoration. The Kaossilator does everything as advertised, what was missing was my own electronics abilities and the time it would take to integrate it into my instrument. I still love the device, it’s a lot of fun to use, and we’ve put it into a few recordings or used it to prototype some ideas and as a source of inspiration it is wonderful. But I do have some buyers remorse over that purchase. Since I don’t use it as planned, I have tried to use it in the studio, for recordings and whatnot. Turns out it isn’t very good at this job either, what I should have purchased is the pro version. It wouldn’t fit into a guitar, but it shines in the recording/authoring part of my life.

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