The joy of old tech
When Christmas comes around the newest and trendiest gadgets are all paraded out for the consumers’ eager dollars. The launch of the XBox One and PS4, along with new gadgets like the latest smartphones and “wearable tech” garnered a lot of attention this buying season. However my dollars went toward stuff that was flying off the shelves for other reasons, most notably obsolescence.
We bought a Wii several years ago, mostly for exercise but also for the kids to play with as a gaming system. They took to it a little timidly at first. While they liked some of the balance games on Wii Fit they hated the regular games. My oldest son was still not adventurous enough to try a game that he wouldn’t excel at right off the bat. So we still used it, but not nearly as much as we expected.
Then they got hold of my brother-in-law’s XBox 360 with Kinect. They were immediately taken with it and played it so much that they would sweat, and laughed so hard that it was infectious. So I decided it was time to upgrade.
The XBox One, while clearly a superior system, was running about $500. No deal there. So I began looking for used and new 360’s and found a ton for sale. However I was warned against buying used, as gamers who had their consoles banned could easily sell them to GameStop or whoever. I didn’t need that hassle. Then I found what I saw was the steal of the year: a basic XBox 360 E system (4Gb) for $150 brand new at Best Buy. Sold. I also managed to find a used Kinect at GameStop for about $40 without the AC cord, which was exactly what I needed for this system. That saved me $60 over new for that. So I had a perfectly good system for just about $200. Yes it’s a rather limited system (one controller, practically no memory) but those are all easily remedied down the road.
The benefit of older tech is that there is a huge market already in place for it. There are still lots of new games for the 360 as well as tons of older games that can be had for 80% or even 90% less than it cost new. Older tech already has a large support base behind it already as well, both formally and from users in the community. When I wanted to see about how to add my own hard drive to the 360, the instructions were all easy to find via Google.
The main driver behind a new technology purchase should primarily be utilitarian, with everything else coming in behind. “New” does not equal “better”, as any stereophile would say as they stand before their wall of vinyl records. If it meets your needs and suits your purposes for it, then it works. An old Motorola Razr still picks up cell towers as well as an iPhone. If you need your old tech to do something that it just can’t do, or can’t do well, then it’s time to upgrade. But never let the shiny things blind you to what works.
I say let the early adopters blaze their trails, showing off the newest gadgets that draw lots of oohs and aahs for about a month. There’s a good chance that a lot of that new tech will be less than expected or even lousy (just consider the first iteration of the 360 and it’s infamous “red ring of death”). I’ll be around to pick the wheat from the chaff for half the price and after someone has already winnowed it.