Cell phones are a particularly egregious example of planned obsolescence-- lots of people seem to just upgrade their phones every year or two, taking whatever low-priced or free phone their service provider happens to be offering. My own approach has been a bit different-- when I first decided I wanted a cell phone, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted, and I didn't buy a phone until I found one that was right. It cost about $450-- so I bought it. I did have moments of groaning over how crazy it was to spend that much on a phone, but it was a great phone.
I used it for about 2 years and would still be using it now, probably, if it hadn't been stolen.
I loved it so much that I couldn't bear to replace it with a different model, but there was no way I was paying $450 again, or even more to buy it without a contract, so I bought a used one on eBay for much less-- unfortunately, it didn't always work very well. But I was still so in love with it that I had it repaired, twice, rather than replacing it. But that probably wasn't a cost-effective way of dealing with it.
After a while, the problem kept recurring and got worse: every time I picked up a call, I'd end up disconnecting it instead. It got so ridiculous that one of my friends, the one who was probably being hung up on the most often, gave me her old phone when she got a new one. I never liked itall that much, but it served the need for over a year, until recently, when the charger I had for it stopped working. I probably could have bought a new charger from a guy on the street for $5, which was how my friend had originally bought it. But I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do:
- Cancel my cell phone service, since I now have a landline again, as well as a Blackberry for work that I could use for personal calls, within reason?
- Buy a nice new phone?
- See what kind of phone I could get for free by renewing my contract?
- Wait for the iPhone?
- Buy a charger and keep using the old phone?
- PalmOS PDA-- used for recording expenses in Pocket Quicken, Calendar and To-Do list, Addresses, Memos, encrypted storage of passwords, etc., e-books and dictionaries, a small amount of music, spreadsheets, worldwide weather forecasts, currency conversions and time zones, photos and movies of niece and nephew, restaurant and movie listings for NY and other cities, and other occasional random uses like an inflation calculator, calorie counter, constellation maps, flags of the world, wi-fi web browsing, solitaire, crossword puzzles and other games, and piano and guitar chords (not that I actually play these instruments, but it's a neat thing to have.) As you can see, this is something I really use! See this post for the complete history of money I've spent on Palm Pilots!
- Digital Camera-- you never know when you'll need to snap a photo
- iPod-- I rarely carry this around unless I'm taking a long plane journey. Otherwise I prefer to stay tuned into my surroundings.
Compromise: buying a lightly used Treo on eBay... which is what I just did, explaining part of my higher than usual "miscellaneous" expense category for March.
I'm hoping that this Treo works out better than the last phone I bought on eBay. So far, it works well, and though I miss the larger touchscreen on my old Clie, I like the compactness of the Treo and the ease of being able to automatically dial every contact in my address book. The only thing that frustrates me is that I could use the device for email too, but T-Mobile's data plans are way too expensive. There is no way I'm doubling my monthly cell phone cost just for the convenience of occasionally checking my personal email or browsing the web. Especially since I can use my Blackberry for that. But now I loathe that turd of a Blackberry even more whenever I compare it to my shiny little Treo!
This is yet another thing I really hadn't planned to spend money on at this point. And of course now that I have it, I'll want some kind of case, and I've already had to spend a few bucks on new versions of some of the software I use. It's also time to go through the gadgets I'm not using any more and try to sell some of them on eBay, so perhaps that will help soften the blow a bit. Otherwise, I'm hoping my recently reawakened inner gadget freak will go back into hibernation so I can actually start saving money on a regular basis again! But my CD player turned out not to have survived my move-- no surprise, as it was a college graduation present and was already getting a bit wonky last summer. And with the extra space and more frequent visitors I have in my new apartment, watching DVDs on my 12" laptop isn't as satisfying as it used to be. I do kind of have a yen to get a bigger monitor that I could wire up to my stereo, and an extra set of speakers so I'll have good sound in the living room and the bedroom, and maybe a wireless router and an AirPort card so I can blog and listen to music while sitting outside, and an external hard drive so I can burn more music.... AAARRGH, I want a HOME THEATER SYSTEM!!! Must stop now!!!
What are your favorite electronic toys, a.k.a. productivity tools? How much money have you spent on them?