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Beacon Senior News

When to upgrade your technology

Oct 29, 2019 10:34AM ● By Adam Cochran

I am a fairly religious person, but my most radical conviction is that I don’t believe in obsolete technology. And I certainly don’t subscribe to theories of planned obsolescence.

September and October are always full of new technology announcements. Apple and Microsoft each announced new generations of their top products, and the electronics department at every retailer is being stocked with the 2020 models of televisions, computers and gadgetry.

You have probably noticed friends and family members sporting new phones, upgrading their televisions, or transitioning to a new computer. Even worse, your kids may be telling you that it’s time for you to upgrade.

Before you join the Joneses or succumb to the tech taunting of your kids, use this guide to determine whether you really need to go through the hassle of adopting a new device into your life.

What does obsolete really mean?

Tech company marketers would have you believe that your existing device becomes obsolete whenever the newest model is announced. In reality, obsolescence is relative.

Each model of computer, cell phone, TV, etc. was designed to do what it needed to do in the era it was released. As long as the device is used for the functions it was designed for, it will continue working.

I know of a guy who still uses his 30-year-old amber-screened IBM 386 computer for his personal finances. He’s an extreme example of loyalty (or stubbornness), but he’s correct. A Ford Model T was designed to get a person from Point A to Point B at a top speed of 45 mph. As long as you don’t need to get anywhere faster than that, you really don’t need a vehicle manufactured later than 1908.

In other words, your computer, phone, TV, or gadgets aren’t technically obsolete until they are no longer useful. Obsolescence is subjective.

Before you upgrade to a new device, ask yourself these questions:

Does my current device allow me to do everything I need to do?

If you only use your computer for surfing the Internet and it works, you probably won’t need a new computer until the current one dies. However, if bad guys were to hack into every computer using Windows 10, you may choose to upgrade for security reasons.

Is my current device efficient?

Your device may be capable of doing everything you need it to do, but it may be too slow to be practical. I once had a smartphone that took 3-5 seconds to answer. People would often hang-up before the call connected. Technically the phone worked, but it wasn’t practical.

Are new improvements worth the cost?

If your current TV is 1080p but it’s 20 feet from your couch, chances are upgrading to a 4K TV isn’t worth the cost. However, upgrading to a 70-inch TV (HD or 4K) might be a great improvement. Do you do anything with your photos besides send them to friends and family or share them on social media? If not, you may not need that new 12-megapixel phone with three lenses.

Are you upgrading for yourself or someone else?

I often get phone calls, emails, and texts that ask the question: “My son says I need a new (insert device here). What should I get?” The vast majority of the time, my advice is to stop listening to their kids. The reason kids, grandkids, and spouses insist that you need to upgrade is because they can’t do the things they want to do on your computer. Chances are, that is a good thing.

Before you upgrade or purchase at the insistence of your kids (or others), make a deal with them. Say that you would be happy to modernize your technology...if they are willing to pay for it and act as 24/7 tech support thereafter. They’ll probably change their mind and recommend you make do with your outdated device that does everything you need it to do.