Buy current technology — not state of the art


I’ve got a brand-new gadget and it became obsolete the second I opened the box!

One big problem with electronics is that no matter when you buy, they’re already obsolete. My senior producer Kim paid $200 for the Epic 4G cell phone from Sprint (with a slide-out keyboard), but now there’s a new 4G phone with a slide-out that’s supposedly the latest and greatest thing…for $149.

Technology marches on as devices get faster, cheaper and better — no matter when you buy.

If you go back 2 years ago, nobody thought that an iPad was a “must have” device, until it started selling like crazy. Today marks the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where 100,000 plus people will partake in a geekfest to look at new devices. And just as the iPad had its moment in the past, the hot thing this year at CES is all the wannabe Apple tablets.

My soon-to-be-obsolete device that I told you about is an Android tablet called the Archos 5. It surfs very well, renders newspapers beautifully, does all the apps stuff, has a built-in GPS, a wonderful movie viewer and all the rest. I paid $150 for it, but a year from now it may only be worth a dollar!

Technology marches on that fast.

So when you go to buy electronics, don’t buy the top of the line. Buying a fancy dancy version of something that will soon be outdated is spending unnecessarily. Think about the selling cycles we’ve seen over the years with HDTVs, cell phones and laptops, how much they’ve come down in price over the years. You can routinely get a laptop for $299 today. They used to be a zillion dollars.  

Avoid the temptation to overspend! Right now, there’s a push for the Samsung Galaxy — an Android device that’s like Samsung’s version of the iPad. But the big problem is you have to sign a 2-year contract for Internet access. So you pay $400-$600 for the device, and then you’re stuck in a 2-year contract. Don’t do it. Avoid those kinds of contracts where you get a subsidized device in return for signing on. Two years from now the Galaxy will be a paperweight, but you’ll still be paying on that contract.

A word about the tablet market: If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the iPad, it’s still too early. Give it at least 6 months and you’ll be rewarded with very nice tablets at very nice prices.

I expect tablets to become impulse purchases in less than a year and a half. One of the key indicators telling me so is that Vizio is entering both the cell phone market and the tablet market. Vizio is the No. 1 seller of TVs and the company that’s had the most to do with driving down the cost of HDTVs. When they enter a market, they build stuff that’s very high quality at lower prices than anybody else says is possible. Get ready!


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