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Patience in an era of 'buy, buy, buy!'

By Andrew Heining / April 23, 2009



What's the latest-greatest-fastest-biggest? Who cares?

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That's the message of Last Year's Model. Just as more megapixels don't necessarily mean better pictures, the site aims to remind that the latest tech gear isn't necessarily the wisest choice.

What's the rationale?

Cutting-edge tech is buggy

Want to be sure to catch that devastating software glitch that erases your data at just the wrong time? Grab the newest model. Giving a company a few months to work out the kinks is good idea if you want to avoid hassles. Software updates are like an oasis in the desert for early adopters, but why even go to the desert? It's hot.

New releases are expensive

Just like at the video store (Remember those? Think of a small Netflix catalog in a building with a funny smell) the latest gear is more expensive than the "seasoned" stuff. Who would rent "Not Another Teen Horror Movie" for six bucks a night when "Animal House" is in the bargain bin? Early adopters, that's who.

It's bad for the environment

The culture of "must have new" encourages faster device turnover. Sure, electronics companies have begun to offer recycling programs, but the lion's share of e-waste still ends up in landfills. Do mother nature (and your bank account) a favor and hang onto that computer for a few years. Every day is Earth Day (not just yesterday).

New stuff takes time to understand

How many of you know how to use all of the features of your current cell phone? OK, OK, maybe that's asking too much. How many knew how to program the VCR they threw out in 2006? I'm picturing a bunch of flashing "12:00's." Feature creep is very real. The latest in-car GPS unit may be wrist-mountable and able to tell you that you missed that turn back there in nine languages, but do you even know Cantonese, and do you want to look like a Ghostbuster? In many cases, more fully understanding and using what you've already got will meet your needs.

Even Walt Mossberg's new computer buying guide, released Thursday, acknowledges that buying today's latest computers isn't a wise move, as both Mac OS X and Windows are due for updates in the near future.

The take-home message from all of this: Use what you have, and think before you rush out and buy.

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