Have you ever noticed that buying technology can sometimes feel like trying to nail down the wind? Impossible! Yet what can you do: at some point you need a new computer, phone, gadget, etc.
We're going to take a look here at my personal secrets to buying technology at exactly the right time, at exactly the right price. Read on to discover how to maximize the bang for your "technobucks"!
Background: Moore's Law
As early as 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore described the trend he saw of the number of transistors on computer chips doubling every year; although the time-frame differs (some say it's every 18 months, some say every 2 years), the fact remains that computer chips are increasing their capacity furiously with no signs of stopping.
What does this mean to you? It means that the products you see on the shelf are not as "new" as you might think. This leads us to secret number 1...
Secret 1: It's Obsolete Before You Buy It
Because technology is moving so quickly, as you learned about with Moore's Law, most of the "new" products you see on the shelf are already obsolete!
You read that correctly!
Brand-new, on-the-shelf items are often already past their prime - or about to be! The key is in understanding which products are obsolete and which are not. That's what I'm going to reveal to you here.
Secret 2: Avoid The Bleeding Edge
When technology products first come out - let's say a major revision of a product, or a brand new computer chip, or a new technology of some kind - it's called the "bleeding edge" for a reason.
Often buying the latest technology is foolhardy, both in terms of cost (it's usually much more expensive to buy the latest-greatest), but also in terms of headaches.
Usually the first few weeks or even months into a new product or technology, there are constant problems and bugs. So avoid this testing period. In essence, any early adopters of technology amount to little more than just beta testers of the product. So wait until the kinks have been ironed out, and the prices drop, before rushing in!
Secret 3: Avoid the "Stale Tail"
In addition to avoiding the very beginning of a product or technology introduction, you also want to avoid the tail end of it as well. Products in the stale tale phase are usually about to be phased out.
Careful! You can often spot stale tail products because they are heavily discounted. Retailers know the products are on the way out, and they are anxious to reduce inventory to make room for the bleeding edge products.
Secret 3: Buying During the Stable Middle
Like Goldilox and the Three Bears, the major trick to buying technology is buying during the "stable middle" period of the technology. This will give you the most stability and longevity with the technology, after prices have settled down.
So how do you know when the "stable middle" period is? This isn't as straightforward. You need to so some Googling. You need to find out when the last major revision of the product occurred, and you need to know about how long the update cycle is.
For macintosh computers, it's fairly easy. There's a website called http://macrumors.com and you can click their Buying Guide to get an idea of how long a product has been out and the average time to renewal. Great tool!
If it's a PC computer, you'll need to do a little more research. Firstly, you'll need to find out what major computer chips are out and learn about them (Quad Core, Dual Core, etc). You'll need to get familiar with the products and get an idea of how long the technology has been out. Also Google rumors of updates to the chips; this will give you an idea of when the next version will be out.
Remember, you want to be in the "Stable Middle" with Goldilox!
Secret Number 5: Buy Up To the Price Jumping Point
After you've determined that you are in the "stable middle" of a product lifecycle, you'll be faced with a variety of options (especially if it's a PC you're buying!).
The trick is to buy the most powerful chip - right up to the major price hike point.
For example, when I updated my last computer, I discovered I wanted an i7 Intel chip (the most powerful at the time). There were various speeds associated with that chip. The prices moved smoothly upward until hitting a huge jump.
Buy the product just before the huge jump. This will give you the best bang for your technobuck! With any luck, you should be able to get a solid 3-5 years out of a new computer.
Insider Tip: Often the speed difference between a 2.2 Ghz and a 2.4Ghz chip are not even noticeable! Yet you may pay a hundred or more dollars for what is called a "faster" chip. Be wary of tiny jumps in speed and huge jumps in price.
Using these secrets will involve a little patience and research on your part. Don't be in a hurry with this; you can limp along with your slower system for a month or two while you learn what to get next. You'll be glad you did.
So there you have it, my secrets, revealed. Please leave a comment and let me know how you've bought technology in the past, or if this article was helpful!