Sunday, September 26, 2010

Topend vs entry level-tips on buying gadgets

This post shares some thoughts that can help while making a purchase decision- Will it be worth buying topend models while buying electronic gadgets or should one prefer to save money and settle for entry level model? The post refers laptops but the same holds good for other electronic gadgets.

An earlier post on this blog, where I compared various laptop makers Dell, HP, Sony and others has been fairly successful and those looking to buy laptops have been posting questions seeking advise.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop/camera/mobile or any such electronic gadget, you’ve following 3 options:

Option A: Buy a basic/entry level model which has all minimum required features and serves most your requirements

Option B: Buy a top end model, most of the times almost 2+ times as expensive as entry level unit, most of the fancy features we may never use, hoping to treat this as long term investment

Option C: A compromise between the above 2 options, a mid level product.

If we take the example of a laptop, I can buy a basic netbook for 15k, a decent notebook for 25-30k or pickup a top of the line model for 45-50k or even more.

Many people often ask/think “Let me extend my budget and buy the topend. I am planning to use it for long term anyway” This temptation is heavily supported by up-selling tactics of sales staff, better discounts/offers on top end model and possibility of better recognition in peer group for owning a latest product.

But then, I personally feel it is better to settle for an entry level or mid range model which servers our purpose, than buying an overpriced topend model thinking it as an investment. My opinion is based on below reasoning:

  1. Technology changes fast and prices keep coming down. What’s latest and cool today will be outdated in a few months. One might feel proud about his super cool 60k laptop today, but in 2 years, it’ll definitely sound outdated. Is it not better to buy a decent 30k laptop today, sell and buy another one after 2 year instead of a 60k laptop? In 3 months if its price drops to 45k, won’t you be left disappointed?
  2. Most of the high end feature will hardly be used. You may have Blu-Ray readable drive- how often do you use a blu-ray disc? You may have remote control for multimedia controls- is it really needed? It may have great graphics card: are you buying it for playing games? There may be exceptions, but there’s high chance that you wont necessarily be needing most of the features
  3. Unless you earn money from your product, electronic goods are heavily depreciating assets. Resale value will be very less. Extending your budget for fancy features/feel good factor is not a wise option.
  4. Even with top of the line products, peace of mind can’t really be guaranteed. Products like laptops might fail after sometime due to various reasons like voltage fluctuations, physical mishandling, software issues etc. Though configuration is top end, brand is reputed things can go wrong. Get good warranty instead.
  5. There’s a risk of theft/damage/loss when you carry your gadgets along. Unless you’ve good mechanism to counter these possibilities (such as insurance, warranty, proper packaging, data backup etc) your disappointment will be lesser when the product isn’t expensive.
  6. At times it makes sense to buy a basic model and enhance it though upgrades/accessories/add on features, on a need basis.
  7. Some high end features may also come at a price- a touchscreen tablet will have less screen clarity than regular screens (also it’ll be smaller in size), a high power processor might be more demanding on battery etc

What’s your take on this? Do you give in to temptations of latest variant or often prefer to save money? Do share your thoughts

Also read: Branded or Unbranded? (a comparison between advantages and disadvantages of buying branded vs non branded goods * Be an alert ConsumerProduct and Service Reviews * Shrinidhi quoted in Deccan Chronicle about Windows 7 *

6 comments:

Sankara Subramanian C said...

Makes a lot of sense, though I have noticed that a lot of people buy gadgets today for a status symbol and not for the true usage.

For example, i have seen really high end mobile phones with auto drivers. Now, do they use emails or internet connectivity, etc. May be NO.

Today people go for looks in their gadget and not for core functionality. I guess they are ready to pay the premium for the looks.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Very true Sankara..

Sandeep said...

excellent post!. I agree to this. I did the similar mistake of buying a laptop for 60k when I could have purchased the one which actually was required for my needs for 45k(this is 4 years back, so the prices were high!)...e.g. I bought the one with Windows Vista Ultimate(thinking I will have lot of softwares which needs that compatible OS). In reality it became a netbook...I mostly use my laptop for browsing only ..nothing else ..infact netbook is that 90% of people need today ..cheers Sandeep

Trails of a Traveler said...

Good one Shrinidhi.
But a couple of clarification.
How often do an entry level product have everything that we will need. I am certainly not looking for a Blue Ray disc or a remote of multimedia, but 3 GB of RAM and 500GB HD for sure. I doubt if any of the entry level laptops would give me that. It depends on what one needs.
Almost all these manufacturers give you mot of these features only in the mid-level or above.

Same is the case with Cell Phones or Cameras as well..

If I have to take Cell phone as an example, can you show me one base model that has the following.
1. Good sunlight viewing
2. WIFI / GPS / Emails.
3. Good sound / display.
4. Camera - I dont care. Better if not present.

One or more of the 4 will definitely be not there in an entry level phone. Check for yourself if you want.

So basically it boils down to what one wants. Of course there are people who get tempted and does not use many features in their gadgets. But for people how make extensive use of it, cannot go for a basic model.

BTW, why self drive a endeavour for 3.3-3.5k when you can get a Swift or Fiesta for half that price??? :P

Ram

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ram,

As far as laptops concerned you can go for extra RAM or external HDD when needed, but yes, if you've specific requirements not met by entry level ones, then makes sense to buy a better one.

As far as cell phones are concerned, the price range is too wide to comment- there're phones for under 1000 rs while top end ones going beyond 35-40k. Obviously none of the entry level models will have the features you've listed. If you have specific need/preference for these features I can't ask you to compromise. Agree that if the basic model doesn't serve the purpose, there's no option but to upgrade.

Good point about endeavour, but it takes twice the number of people compared to small cars, handles roads other cars can't and thus serves some purpose not catered by small cars.. : P

Thanks for the detailed comment.

Sandeep: Thanks for sharing your experience

Rajesh said...

I will go with Option C. Generally we will not be using most of the features.

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