Riding the upgrade roller coaster

This is the time of year when many of the tech companies introduce new stuff. The big question that I always have is, “do I need it?” I almost always want them, but how can I swing the costs? It is always easy to justify an upgrade, since you won’t have to pay full price for them. Plus, if you let one slide by, you know you’re on the hook for the next one. (Most companies will let you skip one upgrade, but if you let two slip by, you’ll have to buy a full version the next time.)

The other big question I have is, “is it worth it?” Do the changes really justify a new version, or is this just a marketing ploy? This may seem a bit cynical, but I feel the latter was true for at least half of the upgrades I have made in the past. I was disappointed with what the new version had to offer, and I’ve learned a few somewhat expensive lessons.

Lesson one: be patient. Don’t jump on right out of the gate. Do some research and read the independent reviews of those that have made the upgrade. Lesson two: use your community. Ask around to see if any one has made the jump and learn from them. And last, I rarely ever buy the first version of anything. It is generally true that all the bugs have not been worked out, and the first buyers are the test subjects (again, a cynical view but also the smart, safe one). It seems that being first rather than the best is the manufacturer’s goal all too often.

These factors are also true for cameras. There is talk of several new cameras from the big players in the market due out during the first quarter of 2011. The talk about huge sensors, the speculation that some may replace professional level video cameras and include all new processing interfaces is the big buzz on many forums. The thing that I find most interesting is while consumer and professional cameras get bigger, the need for big image files seem to going the other way. The decline in print and the increase of digital delivery devices that won’t or don’t support huge files drives this movement. Don’t get me wrong—I will be one of first in line when the Canon EOS D1s Mark IV hits the market. The size (somewhere in the range of 32-36 mega pixels) has been reported, and the all new Digic processor make me drool. The other thing that comes up is how much more memory we will now need. Last year I filled 10+ terabytes of hard drive space with images. What will the new monster require? The thought scares me.

So I guess the take away here is do your research and weigh your needs vs. your wants, and make your decisions based on the real things that will advance you. Investing in your business is wise as long as the goal is better work and more revenue.

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