Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deadly Sins of Gadget Buyers: The Mistakes We Make

Whew. My last post about Apple's litigations and their real motive attracted a lot of attention. I am grateful to my readers and hope they will keep coming back for more.

Today let me invite your attention to a few crucial mistakes we all buy while buying gadgets, which allow manufacturers to rip us off and make fools out of us. While I may be overwhelmingly in favour of Android phones, I nevertheless know that every manufacturer is out to make money, and preferably, more money than deserved. Here I list down some key mistakes gadget buyers (including myself) make.

1) Going for 'specs' rather than 'experience'

Granted, in most cases the two are tied. For example, a web browsing experience on a 720p 4.7 inch screen will be superior to that on a 4 inch 480p screen, owing to both size and resolution. Also, you absolutely WANT 1 GB of RAM if you hope to keep your Android set chugging along.

But from here on it gets crazy. Quad core processors? Who needs them with Jelly Bean? Samsung Nexus S, an almost antiquated set, runs just fine on JB. Same goes for Galaxy Nexus, which is beating those newfangled Galaxy S3s at the speed game. You need latest SOFTWARE, not hardware.

2) Camera

Trust me, even a cellphone costing 500 USD cannot better the photo quality offered by a cheap point and shoot camera costing 1/5th the price. Even if the megapixel count goes up to 12 or 16, they are still there on that tiny sensor which cannot make sense of most things in the world. Same goes for video: most smartphone cameras these days will happily make an HD video but they cannot match the smoothness and light range of a dedicated camera.

So bear in mind: you just need to pay for a PASSABLE camera on a cellphone, even if it is 3.2 megapixels. Anything over that is overkill.

3) Ignoring perfectly good products for one missing feature

We do this a lot. We have a feature in mind, and for that feature we are willing to pay more. We ignore perfectly good gadgets for trivial factors. So an HDTV has only one HDMI slot. So what? You can switch cables around can't you? Is it worth paying 20% more for the one with 3 slots but same picture?

Similarly some digital cameras cannot output to an HDTV. Again, there is no sense in paying more for this feature since most HDTVs these have USB slots and you can play any content on them.

Which brings me to the biggie: Smart TVs. I will cover this in a separate feature, but suffice it to say that it is one of the greatest ploy to grab more money from consumers.

So THINK. If you NEED to have a TV out connection on your phone, you must be using it very often. If you aren't likely to use it for months, no sense. The age of good Nokia phones where several features and technology was thrown in to see what lasted and what didn't, is long gone. These days you can't just say 'Yeah, but it's nice to have just in case' because you are paying for it dearly.

4) Gadget envy

Many people buy gadgets because their friends or bosses have them. Again, I would say, THINK. You want an HD monitor, right? Do you really need one with 27 inches diagonal? Won't a 22-incher suffice? Similarly, everyone at a mall having the iPhone does NOT mean it's a good phone. Democracy's underlying assumption that majority is always right, does not stand up to testimony and never was this truer.

5) Not waiting

In many third world markets, gadgets are often priced at what a buyer is willing to pay. When a particularly hot or popular gadget launches, the dealers make a lot of money, capitalizing on the buyer frenzy.

My advice is simple: WAIT. You don't absolutely need to have that new phone, TV, laptop etc, on day one. Wait for it to OFFICIALLY launched by authorized dealers. If it is not likely to, wait at least 6-8 weeks. Invariably, prices of new gadgets come down with time, and in case of cellphones, they plummet to 60 or 70% of the launch pricing. Remember: it's nothing if you flaunt the PRICE of your gadget - the only thing you can safely show off if you get good value out of it

Waiting has another advantage: you will be able to read thorough reviews of the gadget and know all about its flaws (there are many, believe it or not). Many features simply don't work, or refuse to work in specific situations. Mostly, internet FORUMS rather than reviews are a good source of this crucial information. Much of it might be misleading or very specific, but it is nevertheless useful.

These were a few mistakes that buyers make while buying gadgets. I will be back with more as I make them!

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