I like to buy gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, cameras, computers, etc. But I’m also a frugal person. I feel guilty about buying things that I don’t really need or things that are not really filling any real void in my life. Upgrading can create a real problem for me. Sure, sometimes it’s necessary. Your computer dies, you drop your phone in the toilet, etc. But sometimes you just want something the newest or at least better features.
Lately I’ve been dreaming about a new laptop. My current Macbook is almost three years old. It still works great. I’ve upgraded the RAM and hard drive as well as replaced the casing to fix the Macbook cracking issue. The only thing that really lags on the machine is the graphics. It can’t play 3D games like Starcraft II. Not a huge deal, but annoying. It also lacks some of the ports of the new 13″ Macbook Pro, like mini-display.
I’ve broken down my upgrading dilemma into three scenarios. We are assuming I buy the low end Macbook Pro, 13″. I can get it in the $1,000(refurbished/sale price) to $1,200 (new price) for the current model as of Oct 19th 2010. (There’s a chance of a new model tomorrow at the Back to Mac event).
Scenario A: I could buy the new laptop. I also could sell my current machine, and thanks to Apple’s high resale value get in the neighborhood of $600. In the end, upgrading my computer would cost me around $600.
Scenario B: I could wait until my current machine breaks. Then I’m out $1,200 with no return on my current machine. And who knows when that could be. One year, two years, three years. (I highly doubt I will keep my current machine that long.)
Scenario C: I wait another year and I buy the most current Macbook Pro at around the same price, $1,000 to $1,200. It will be an even better machine than what is currently available, and I future proof myself even more. However, by that time my current machine will be worth less. I’ll probably be lucky to get $400 for it. In this scenario, I’m likely out $800. But I end up with a better machine. But this scenario also has some risk, as I could end up in Scenario B with a broken machine. And the odds of something going wrong increases the older the computer gets.
My money-saving, non-wasteful instincts tell me to wait until I really need a new machine to make my purchase. But I then lose out on getting resale value from my current machine. The longer I wait, the less resale value on my current machine, but the better the new computer becomes.
Hmm. Honestly, Scenario C sounds like the best option since I don’t really need a new computer. I can live without Starcraft II, and I doubt I end up needing to edit a movie soon or something soon. But I know I’m going to want something new eventually, because I can’t stand working on out dated hardware.
Thoughts? What do you think of the life span of a laptop? 2 years? 3 years? 5 years?