When to save and splurge on technology

You don’t have to buy the latest, top-of-the-line option every time you shop for technology.

You don’t have to buy the latest, top-of-the-line option every time you shop for technology.

I know I risk being shunned by the nerd community for saying it, but there are times to splurge and times to save.

This doesn’t apply to some people — gamers, graphic designers, photographers and others — with special requirements for their computers and gadgets. However, many computer users have a basic set of technology needs that can be met without shelling out a lot of money for the best of the best.

Surprisingly, you can shop for a deal on desktop or tower PCs. The parts are readily changeable from one tower to the next, so if something dies you can replace it without much difficulty.

If you decide you need more RAM, it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive process to upgrade. Limit your bargain shopping to a reputable computer manufacturer, such as Dell or HP, so you get a year’s warranty. Because most hardware failure caused by poor craftsmanship occurs in the first year, this will ensure you aren’t stuck with a dud.

Spend your desktop tower savings on getting the best monitor you can afford. Because it’s the part of your system you’ll stare at day in and day out, monitor size and quality will have a far greater impact on your computing enjoyment than a somewhat faster processor.

Splurge on the biggest high-definition screen you can afford and fit in your space.

Before you buy, check out pros and cons on professional tech review sites such as CNet or PCWorld. User reviews from sites like Amazon and Newegg reveal problems that may arise after extended use.

Unfortunately, you can’t cut corners when shopping for a laptop. Aim to get the best hardware you can afford.

Because a laptop’s compact, internal parts — such as fans and input ports — are often specific to the machine, a laptop may require custom orders, in many cases direct from the manufacturer. This makes laptop hardware more costly to repair or upgrade.

A laptop’s portability makes it more likely to get banged around, so it’s important to get high quality, durable materials.

Pay attention to screen quality and buy as much RAM, processor speed and battery life you can. Upgrade now so you get as much life as possible from your machine.

Shopping for a laptop? Using the words “iPad” and “bargain” in the same sentence may seem like an oxymoron. But because a tablet is an entertainment device; you don’t need the latest and greatest.

Now that the third-generation iPad has been released, you can get an iPad2 for US$100 less, and it’s substantially the same. You may not notice the improved screen quality as much as that extra money in the bank.

Big-box retailers make their money on cables. That’s why they’re prominently displayed near the cash register: They’re like fruity cocktails at a restaurant — they’re marked up several hundred times.

But the truth is, there’s negligible difference between a $5 cable purchased online from a site like monoprice.com, and a $50 cable you get off the shelf at Best Buy. Save your money.

Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
All adult Albertans to be offered first dose of vaccine by end of June: Premier

Alberta’s premier says the province will be “back to normal” when 72… Continue reading

Black Press Media file photo
Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

EDMONTON — The head of the Alberta Medical Association says many factors… Continue reading

Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Expert says gathering outside Alberta church attended by many conspiracy theorists

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — An expert investigating hate groups says a weekend… Continue reading

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
Canada set to receive 1M Pfizer-BioNTech doses, Moderna playing catch-up

OTTAWA — The federal government is expecting Moderna to make good on… Continue reading

This satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Iran's Natanz nuclear site suffered a problem Sunday, April 11, involving its electrical distribution grid just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges that more quickly enrich uranium, state TV reported. It was the latest incident to strike one of Tehran's most-secured sites amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
Iran blames Israel for sabotage at Natanz nuclear site

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran blamed Israel on Monday for a… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Huawei, HSBC agree on document deal for extradition case

HONG KONG — Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei said Monday that it… Continue reading

The Montreal Police logo is seen on a police car in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

MONTREAL — Hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal on Sunday in defiance… Continue reading

Most Read