A simple guide to buying choices

I read a lot of reviews before making a buying decision — It is a tedious and confusing exercise — There are just too many variables and these reviews do not get to the point of actual differentiation amongst the competition. Not their fault because they want us to get as much information on as many attributes as possible to make an ‘informed’ decision.

However, over the years I have nailed my decisions down to one or two defining factors and honestly, they have worked out well for me — I have ended up buying stuff which lasts me 10–15 years which in the electronics business is definitely award winning. Hopefully the below guides would be easy to follow.

We will not consider the price in the below evaluation because that directly relates to our spending power and of course the more you put in the higher you go and then there is no limit upwards or downwards.

TV

Everything is 4k these days and that is enough.

  • Brand: You can go with the usual suspects (Samsung, Sony etc.) but trying out Roku and Hisense etc. is not a bad idea either.
  • Resale price: No idea really but if its software supports being updated, a known brand and above 4k then it will retain value in the next 10 years.
  • After sales support and warranty: Normally televisions just keep on going and going until you have to throw them out.
  • Ecosystem: No particular ecosystem is required unless you are already wired into Alexa at home
  • Software: If it is android, it might get updates for a bit longer than others — but eventually updates will run dry because as it stands, android and google do not care much about customer satisfaction once the item is out the door.

Resolution options: Most important consideration currently is the refresh rate — Regardless of the optics, this is the defining feature within the televisions. Do not get confused by the number of K or the HDR or UHD etc. — all flatscreens have the same more or less and within the same price range as well — the price literally jumps 2x to 4x once you double the refresh rate from 60Hz (normally available) to 120Hz — If you want to be future proof and have your TV last a long time (10–15 years, then this is the way to go). Not to mention if you are the gaming type, this is definitely the way to go.

  • Sound options: These will not make a big difference in the price on a TV — they are all the same unless one of them has a special surround sound deal along with it. If it does, then by all means go for it.

Just a footnote about sound: Back in the 80s and 90s renting out VHS, one would frequently end up with what was then called a ‘camera version’ — These were pirated copies with someone recording the cinematic version through a video cam. While I tried to avoid these at all costs since movie watching was so sacred to me, sometimes I did end up with one of these — and that taught me a valuable lesson — It is not the picture that matters, but the sound — if I could hear the action sequences and the dialogue crispy enough, then I could bear with the dim lighted video — the other way around was a complete no no and usually ended up in a huge fight with the video rental store.

Phone

  • Resale price: Only Apple and Samsung resell like hot cakes.
  • Screen, cameras etc.: Yadda yadda yadda

After sales support and warranty: Apple, Apple, Apple — Always get apple care +: You would not regret it. This is a great article to read on this.

Ecosystem: You have to choose carefully as this would impact you and your family — You can mix and match in certain instances (like be on apple devices while also subscribe to google photos) but generally sticking to one ecosystem is the magic trick.

Tablet

It is all the same as with the phone (as above) except one huge factor that not many people take into serious consideration.

Size and weight: Please remember you are buying a handheld device and not a laptop. If you want to put it on a table 2 feet away and watch movies with the whole family, then by all means go for the biggest screen but do not be that person who has the big 12 inch thing on the tray table in the plane for a 7 hour flight. It gets even worse when you have to type something on it or god forbid play a game — Have you ever wondered why all the handheld gaming consoles have small screens — I do not know why but they must have a darn good reason for all of them to be on the same page for this particular feature. In short, get the iPad mini and you will be able to easily read a book, play a game, watch movies, use the Apple pencil, keep it in your back pocket if need be and the current model will last you at least the next 5–7 years.

Laptop

Except gaming, regardless of what you do on a laptop is all completely possible on both a Mac and the Windows based lineup. We will not get into the gaming part because then you would want to know how to mine bitcoins and that is far from the topic of this discussion.

Ecosystem: Again, it plays an important role but not as much because laptops are used for the business work and most business work requires Microsoft office which is available on both the worlds. (except linux — Do not go for linux unless you are a programmer etc.)

Size and weight: I never gave the laptops much credit when it came to size and weight because they all seemed to be the same more or less — until I worked between both a 16 inch and a 13 inch Mac — The small size factor really made my life so much easier — grab and go, work in the bed, slide it into any backpack and the battery life is much better.

Brand: I have been buying laptops for the last 20 years, some personally, some officially but the only ones which I can run without restarting for months and which last a decade (bought my souped up Mac in 2013 and still going great in 2022) are the Apple ones. Windows laptops run out of support on the hardware and then run out of memory and then throw a million glitches in your face. Therefore, get a Mac, whichever you can afford — just make sure you get enough memory (both RAM and the hard drive) in the beginning because these cannot be upgraded later on.

Webcam: This has recently been on the top of the list with all the teams and the zooms — Usually everyone looks like in those store robbery videos where you cant make out if its a person or a grizzly holding a gun. The number to look for is 1080 on these web cams as they will make all the difference. Also, soon all laptops will feature this so do not buy something now which will have a game changer feature in a year leaving you high, dry and all fuzzy.

Resale: This is a tricky one because what I have seen with people trying to sell their old laptops is that they are trying to get rid of something to get some value back to buy the next one — which is ok — what is not ok is the price tag they come up with where they leave little difference between their old one and the new one available fresh off the shelf.

Watch

Apple watch without the heart monitoring stuff unless you really medically need it — Otherwise you need something which gives you the import tit bits from your phone on to your wrist. The SE version is great and I hear there is a new one coming with tons of features.

“Since the Apple Watch is not compatible with Android, you need to use it as a standalone smartwatch. For this, you first need to ensure that you buy the cellular variant of the wearable; otherwise, you’ll significantly limit what it can do. Then, you need to set up your new Apple Watch using an iPhone.”

Now you are starting to get the feel of where I am going with all this.

Gaming console

I am only including this to let everyone know what a great experience it is to play all the LEGO games — I have now played and finished about 5 of them and another 7 are in store to go — All on a PS3 that someone did not want and I grabbed it with both hands. My elder kid loves it and the cooperative play is just amazing — to hell with graphics etc. — The fun factor is off the charts — My plan is to keep them all for the 1 year old who will love them too in a couple of years.

Car

Resale: I remember a friend telling me that this is the second biggest financial decision of your life (after a house) — I do not agree — I think we should never let it be that big of a deal — Buy something checked and validated from a dealer which is used and for a much lower price. You will get to resell it while retaining its maximum value as compared to reselling a brand new model after certain number of years. Also remember, do not buy a car for others to see you in — instead get something which takes care of you — financially and with lesser maintenance/breakdown headaches.

Brand: If you are buying (or financing) then go for a good brand (Toyota/Honda) — If you are leasing, either go for a german car because you will not be left with it after the lease — they are a nightmare to deal with afterwards. Also if you are leasing, get the top souped up version of the likes of KIA or Hyundai or Nissan — you really get the bang for your buck and do not have to deal with resale or maintenance afterwards.

Tesla: I have no clue unless I get one but also because it is like buying a new phone and it gets old very fast — Unless you know its resale value and that its main item a.k.a the battery will not be like a phone battery and only retain half the charge after 5 years of use, then by all means go for it.

Other EV: Tesla has one up on all of them and a great head start — the one up they luckily have is the tremendous amounts of big data which is helping them bring in the next generation of automation to these cars using ML. At this point Tesla is the Apple and everything else is the Samsungs and Huaweis trying to catch up and copy pasting.

The above are just my experiences and I have been completely wrong for a lot in the past — But these options I believe let you focus on the important things in life — like family and friends — and not the tools to get in touch with them.

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