It's tough being a technology enthusiast and also trying to get your budget to balance, for one simple reason: there's rarely any financial reward in being an early adopter. That's certainly the case when it comes to the Dell Inspiron Mini/Vodafone 3G broadband bundling deal.
When Lifehacker first covered this deal back in December, I noted that choosing to buy via a 24-month contract -- rather than purchasing the machine and the broadband deal separately -- came with a cost premium, but that it was possibly less than what you'd pay in interest if you'd put the whole thing on your credit card. However, this week Vodafone announced that it was dropping the monthly charge for the deal from $69.95 to $59.95. It's also incorporating a previously-announced deal that effectively offers three months free access to the Mini bundle. Indeed, while that offer ends this month for standalone 3G broadband buyers, it's available for the Mini through until the end of March.
The combined effect of those deals is that the total package will cost you $1438.80. That's less than buying the machine on its own and then signing up with Vodafone, which costs $1507.50. However, if you acted quickly took advantage of the three-months-free option, the cost of not bundling would again be cheaper, since you'd save another $180 or so. So while the basic decision hasn't changed -- you need to weigh up whether you'd rather have the flexibility of a separate device -- there's a clear reinforcement of a basic lesson: buying early cost more.
As well as the financial penalty, early adopters also suffered another blow. As APC reported last month, Vodafone was forced to temporarily stop the bundling deal after putting machines on sale with 8GB drives, rather than the promised 16GB. Of course, dedicated tech enthusiasts might be hard to convince not to spend quite so freely, but it's definitely worth thinking about.
Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.