Tech Thursday – The Buy

When it comes to technology, the cutting edge is the bleeding edge. You can bleed yourself dry trying to keep up with the latest and greatest of everything.

I obviously like technology and strive to stay up on what is happening in the tech world. However, I don’t always have the latest available. One, I can’t afford to always buy the newest thing and still be responsible to my family. Two, I purchase based on need (relative term I know) and reliability of my current technology. For example, I didn’t buy an iPhone until the second generation (3G) came out and then I carried it for two years completely by-passing the 3GS when I got my iPhone4. I didn’t have an iPad until they had been out for 7 months. My current Macbook Pro was purchased in 2008. We have an iMac in our living room that was purchased in 2005. These are just examples that staying current and making use of technology is not about having the newest as soon as it comes out.

The key is to make the best use of what is available and find the ways to simplify and keep technology the tool, not the end.

There is a time to buy. If not, we never own.

Let’s say it is time for a new laptop computer. The what is determined. The Mac vs. PC decision has been made. Let’s walk through the process to buy.

Often, one of the first questions posed is: should I buy used or new? The answer to this actually starts with more questions.

  • What are your needs in your computer? graphics, video editing, word processing, layout, email, etc. The more intensive the work you are going to be doing, the more important it is to have a fast, reliable and new machine. If you are mainly doing basic documents, calendar, and email, a used computer is a more viable option.
  • How much do you have to spend? Your budget may determine whether you are buying new or used at this time. My advice is usually determine how much first, then buy the most you can for that amount.
  • How long does this computer need to last you before you are willing/able to buy another? The longer it must last, the more important new is. If you will be able to by a new one in a year or two, then a one year old machine might serve you well right now. If you need three or more years out of it, then new is the right option.
  • If something goes wrong, are you willing and able to fix it or get it fixed on your own? If the answer is no, then new is your choice.

The next question then is what size of computer do you get?

  • For screen size, it comes back to what you are going to be using the computer to do and it what environment. If your work is heavy in photography, video, or graphic design, you want at least a 15″ screen unless you are able to be connected to an external monitor for most of that type of work. If your work is very portable and you are always on the go, you probably don’t want anything larger than a 13″ screen. If you need ultra portable and not a lot of computing power, then a netbook, ultra thin laptop, or even an iPad or other tablet might be your best option.
  • As for harddrive capacity and RAM goes, I always suggest maxing out what is available if you are buying new. Space is something that you will always need. As the world turns more digital and higher quality digital, the more important harddrive capacity becomes. RAM is key to your computer running quickly and efficiently and more is always better. Again, the more intensive your work on the computer with photos, music & video editing/processing, graphics, etc, the more you need lots of RAM. Anymore 2gb is minimum and 4 is really what you need for everyday computing. Once you move into graphics, video, etc, you need even more RAM in your computer.

Then the big question comes in: where to buy? This is the hardest to answer because it is such a fluid and ever changing industry.

  • First thing is to avoid the too-good-to-be-true-penny-auction sites. They are just legit enough to stay in operation, but very few people walk away with a good deal on what they want.
  • Next is do some research. Sales and prices are in constant flux. take a few minutes on Google or another search engine and look for deals.
  • There is a store here called “MicroCenter“. and they are a computer/electronic geeks dream store. I get a good amount of our tech needs there. They do have a website.
  • I like the experience and service that comes from working with a human face to face in a physical store when possible.
  • The big box stores like Best Buy® and Target® have good deals from time to time, but not always the best trained employees when it comes to tech products. I do buy from them once in a while.
  • Of course, manufacturers’ websites are a good place to look as well.
  • I have found eBay best for used equipment. Especially if you use PayPal to complete the transaction, you have the most recourse should something go wrong with the transaction.

One last word on “The Buy” for now. Once you do buy, realize that you have made a decision and it is time to enjoy that decision and don’t even look at anything resembling that product for a few months. Something better and newer is always coming out and it can be depressing to find a better deal after making a purchase such as this. When you are ready to buy, then do so and don’t look back.


What would you add to this discussion?