The Speed of Progress

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be some existential drivel where I talk about the process of learning as a human being and progressing as a civilization (that’s a post I am far too young and naive to even pretend to be able to offer an opinion on). Instead this post is about the issues I encounter when purchasing a tech gadget (computer, TV, tablet, cellphone etc.)… issues that I think others grapple with as well.

The issue has to do with what is known as Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law has to do with technological progress and it basically states that every 2 years tech capabilities double. In other words, progress is exponential.

To put this in perspective, over the weekend I pre-ordered the Google Nexus 7 tablet, but only after my mouse hovered over “confirm” button for close to 15 minutes. It seems with every passing year I become more uncertain of whether I am making a smart decision when purchasing a new gadget. In the back of my mind there is always this nagging feeling that the second I click to order, something newer and better will suddenly appear on the scene.

I am particularly hesitant when I am purchasing things that I don’t really need. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that I haven’t really “needed” anything for sometime. Every tech purchase I make, and I believe this is true for most people, is merely an upgrade. When I got my iPhone I didn’t need a new phone, I had a Blackberry that fulfilled all my needs, but not anything extra. For instance, this Nexus 7 is not something that I truly need, but it provides a certain utility which I think makes it worth the price tag.

So, how then can we decide whether or not we are making an intelligent purchase? If you are hoping for a concrete or formulaic answer, I am sorry but you’ll have to look elsewhere because I don’t have it, what I can offer some personal advice.

I’m someone who has in the past has waited around for the next release of a product, hoping that it will have a certain feature, only to be let down when it doesn’t. I had an upgrade available from Verizon for ~6 months before I used it, because I was waiting for the iPhone 5 and 4G, you all know how that turned out. That was a far worse feeling than when I purchased something, only to see a better version of it be released ~6 months later.

Technology is constantly moving forward, so even if you buy a product right when it releases, chances are pretty good that within a year there will be something better than it out there. So my advice would be, try not to worry about it too much. I know that this is easier said than done, but I’ve come to realize that trying to wait for a product to be “just right” is a losing battle.

Let me know your thoughts about buying new gadgets or anything else in the comments!