I have owned computers since 1982 when I bought my first Apple II+. Over the years, computers got old and new ones took their place. Often the monitors and the printers would last longer, but even they eventually needed to be replaced.
As computer prices have fallen and new devices have been introduced, we feel tremendous marketing pressure to upgrade to the latest and greatest products. After a life working in technology, I am likely more addicted to new stuff than most people.
For twenty years a career at Apple gave me a source of the latest and greatest techno-tools. I won one of the first iPads off the production line in a sales contest. There was always an employee promo where I could buy a slightly old product at a bargain basement price.
The problem was that I ended up with a basement full of old computers. The way the world of technology works, even the best of them eventually have to be retired because manufacturers stop supporting them in the hopes that you will buy something new.
Starting in 2004 a series of Apple products that did not exhibit Apple's legendary longevity got me thinking about technology in a different way. If technology was only going to last eighteen to twenty months like my 15" Aluminum Powerbook G4, why buy the most expensive?
My next laptop from Apple was a white MacBook. While it also had to go back to the factory for repair, at least it broke while under warranty and was less expensive. A couple of hard drive transplants helped keep the MacBook going for five years. During that five years I also learned that I could accomplish just about everything I needed to do with an even less expensive Windows laptop.
When the MacBook started dying it got replaced by a 15" Lenovo I7 laptop that cost less than half the price of an equivalent Mac laptop. At the same time my MacBook was dying, my iMac, otherwise known as my iLemon, was also in its death throes.
I managed to keep the iLemon limping along for several months by running it off an external drive. While I was battling to keep the iMac going, I came close to leaving the Mac platform. I finally decided that there were a few reasons to continue using a Mac so I recently took delivery of the cheapest Mac that I could find.
My new Mac is Apple's bottom end MacMini. True to Apple's form, it might be the low end model, but it is still not inexpensive. The MacMini listed for $599 and did not even come with a keyboard, mouse or a DVD drive. The Lenovo tower that I bought the same week cost only $499 and came with a hard drive twice the size, twice the memory, a DVD drive, and they threw in a nice keyboard and mouse. The Lenovo tower is replacing my dual G5 Mac which just celebrated its eighth birthday last December. I still use it, but there is no longer a current browser available for it so its uses are minimal and mostly limited to Photoshop which I don't want to buy again.
The MacMini got attached to the eight year old flat panel screen that originally came with the dual G5. The Lenovo tower got hooked up to a three year old Dell LCD screen. It is hard to believe that I am managing to use these computers without a single Apple Retina display. The two new computers join a Dell Pentium III system that was purchased in September of 2004. It is running Ubuntu Linux and fortunately the Linux folks value older hardware so I have a good set of current browsers on it.
Together my two new computers cost a couple of hundred dollars less than the price of a single new iMac. My iLemon is the last all in one computer that we will purchase. Adding video connectors so dead iMacs can be used as monitors later won't change my mind. I am done with products like the iMac.
iMacs are hard to service and are typically hard to upgrade. The iLemon was our family's eighth iMac. I think only one is still running. The others all had to be replaced and all those still working and beautiful CRTs and flat panel screens went to recycling. It is something that I regret.
This whole disposable technology thing puts us all in some interesting situations. Just a year ago I ended up buying a new laser printer because it was cheaper to buy a new printer than to gamble that a new cartridge would solve the problems on my old printer.
I have no plans to abandon technology which plays a big part in my life. I'm just planning to be a lot smarter about it. I'm happy to say that both the new MacMini and the Lenovo are working well with our HP Inkjet which is over six years old. They also like my $99 laser printer.
The manufacturers of televisions are pushing hard to sell these new smart TVs. I'm hoping to add a few features to our six year old television for around $100. If Apple ever comes out with their new super smart television, you can bet it will be super expensive. I won't be waiting in line for it either. I don't watch enough TV to care what kind of screen technology that we have. To me a smart TV is one that is turned off when I want some peace and quiet.
My new goal is to get the most technology bang for my limited dollars. Most technology devices don't get used to their full potential anyway. There is generally a lot that can be done even with some of the less expensive products on the market.
I suspect there is very little that anyone can do on their iPad that I can't do on my $199 Nexus 7. On top of spending fewer dollars, if I can send less technology stuff to recycling, I will sleep better at night.