Extravagant Spending Averted

27 10 2010

Some people want to hop on board to the bandwagon of the new gadgets and gizmos of the modern cloud-computing lifestyle where life revolves around the internet and staying connected, possibly keeping entertained with digital libraries of books, video games, videos and apps.

 

These days Apple dictates what a consumer wants, ever since the iPod did and opened up a new market for MP3 players, one that is larger, more profitable and mainstream.

However, even for their everyday consumer products, Apple keeps a hefty price-tag. Their competition as well, since they’ve learned to undercut apple only slightly to become just as profitable.

A smartphone, touchpad computing tablet, a notebook computer, and a digital set-top box like Google TV or similarly prices options like the PS3 could total up to be along 2 grand, not counting a data plan.

Here’s what I did to get these things spending less than $500 all and all. The key is compromise: you mustn’t be afraid to compromise to save a few bucks. Foolish consumers and overly expectant people will immediately regret this, so I only advise tech-savvy people who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty with software, firmware, troubleshooting, and failed technology lamenting or return manufacturer authorizations.

A smartphone itself isn’t really that expensive, subsidized by any cellphone plan, carriers will help you pay for a cellphone and then make sure you pay more than its worth by holding you to their expensive data plans. When I upgraded from my dumb phone, I purchased an Old T-mobile wing from amazon for $65. Another seller posted one for $40 right before it shipped. You can get an (HTC) touch, which is quite similar (no keyboard) for $100 at Dealextreme. Windows Mobile 6 may be phased out, but it’s still a good option if you’re willing to tweak and install various applications to suit your needs on it. T-mobile just rolled out a couple alternative data options for prepaid customers, such as $1.50 unlimited use for a day. Another good prepaid company is PlatinumTel, which sells phones at unsubsidized prices, but you get the best rates on Data (10 cents/min) and SMS (2 cents per text). The low rates come at a price, you can’t really get a smartphone with an OS like android or windows mobile, since their phone selection is limited and you can’t buy your own phone.

Touchpad computing tablets like the iPad are filling the market, they’re cutting into netbook sales quite a bit, It’s not a netbook replacement in my eyes, but it does have some merit if you’re just looking for an MID or Mobile Internet Device. $500 is a lot for an overpowered (but still underpowered when you consider that it’s $500) version of what seems to be a large iPod touch. Do you really need SVGA resolution? a graphics accelerator and 10 hours battery life? If you do then by all means. But you could compromise if you didn’t need to play plants vs. zombies HD on the road. $100 could snatch you a decent MID that is sufficient web-browsing, and a nice, large touch-screen that’s good enough for reading and reading manga. Playing videos is also probably a no-go, that’s a specialty that the tablets at mp4nation can do. The $100 tablet/aPad is the Eken m001. It’s not a replacement for an iPad, and I’m still waiting for mine, but as an ebook, manga viewer, note-taking device, and light web-browser, it should be sufficient, even with its “2 hours on wifi” battery life

A notebook computer. I’d try to buy one used/refurbished and grab a spare battery on it. Netbooks are also great. I personally have a netbook and a notebook computer. notebook is just a really old HP laptop whose lead-acid battery is long dead. Just remember: do you really need it? and can I get a good one refurbished for much cheaper? Personally $400 dollars is plenty for a half-decent laptop $500 if I wanted a 13 inch screen.

Finally, we got Google TV for about $300 with either Sony or Logitech’s solutions. But why? They’ll become cheaper, and if you need it, and you’re one of us anime fans, yeah it’s cool to stream from netflix, hulu, and crunchy-roll, but for true unhindered HD content, it’s either on the computer or encoded and ran on the PS3. Western Digital ($40 refurbished) doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive like the PS3 though, so that means you can’t just encode a 1080p movie with CABAC to be 4GB and plop it onto a DVD-R, but if you have a large flash drive or an External hard drive, then you don’t need to convert the video. Hopefully subtitle support is alright, subtitles styling would be nice. I’m still waiting for mine to come, review later.

Western Digital HD media player: $40; T-mobile wing used: $65; Eken M001/aPad: $95

Total spent: $200

Logitech Revue: $300; T-mobile Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S: $500 (unsubsidized); iPad 16GB wifi only refurbished: $450;

Coulda spent: $1650

I’ll say that I did a mighty fine job. I used the $500 straight up, because I’d pay for more than the $400 difference over the course of 2 years under an unlimited celling/text/data plan that T-mobile sells. I ‘m writing not to show off how frugal I can be/ how one can be. A person could be really frugal, because none of these are necessities, and just not buy them. I’m writing because I’m a victim of the human nature where you see things and want then, but I’m also not a reckless spender or rich. These are big compromises, but one can fool the mind and satiate device/gadget lust.

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