Ever scoff at someone for buying refurbished? Or found yourself spending $50 on an HDMI cable? We all hear (and spread) tech myths, but in some cases those myths end up costing you a lot of money. It's time to debunk the myths that drain your hard-earned cash from your wallet.
Title image remixed from silver tiger (Shutterstock)
Myth #1: Refurbished Products Aren't As Good As New Ones
Refurbished products get a bad rap because a lot of people equate refurbished with "used". However, "refurbished" and "used" are not identical. Refurbished gadgets come from a variety of sources:
- A product with damage to the unit itself or its packaging which has been returned and fixed.
- A demo unit from a retailer.
- An open box item that was returned by someone who decided not to keep it.
- A defective product that has been returned and fixed.
Once a product is returned, it's inspected and deemed ready for sale again, but it can't be sold as new, so it's sold as refurbished for a fraction of the cost. That means being a refurbished item can be a great way to save money. Check product descriptions carefully to ensure you know what you're getting into. Under Australian consumer law, products sold still have to be fit for purpose even if they are seconds or refurbished items, but you can't ask for a refund based on a flaw that has been clearly identified at the time of purchase. When in doubt, ask. Photo by dwstucke
Myth #2: Extended Warranties Are Worth The Money
It's almost impossible to buy from an electronics retailer without someone trying to upsell you an extended warranty. In most cases, extended warranties are not worth the extra cost.
As we've discussed before, extended warranties are a contentious issue. In many cases, it's cheaper to just set up your own "extented warranty" fund. Remember that retailers can't impose an arbitrary period on when warranty support is available; there aren't set legal guidelines in Australia, but goods are expected to operate for a reasonable length of time. A particular case in point: if you buy a phone on contract for 24 months, that phone is covered for the life of the contract.
Consumer law issues aside, if you're even remotely technically savvy, you can do most repairs yourself, including iPhone screen replacements, laptop repairs and general software fixes. Learning to do basic tech repairs isn't just good for saving you money; it also saves you from being without favourite gadgets for weeks on end waiting for warranty repairs. If all else fails you can always try and get free repairs without a valid warranty. The fact of the matter is that most extended warranties will go unused, so think carefully before buying. Photo by trenttsd.
Myth #3: More Expensive Cables Offer Better Quality
Electronics stores offer lots of high-priced cables, and the salesperson will invariably try and steer you towards the more expensive option. When it comes to digital cables, there's no point: they either work or they don't. Spending more makes no difference to quality. You won't see a difference between cables that transfer digital data, such as HDMI or DVI. In our experience, the cheapest source for HDMI cables remains ordering from a Hong Kong supplier via eBay.
Analogue audio cables are the partial exception, and the main reason this myth has survived. Analogue cables will cause a change in the quality of sound, but unless you're a hardcore audiophile obsessing over every aspect of sound quality, you still won't notice the differencePhoto by alx_chief.
Myth #4: Better Processors Make For Better All-Around Speed
In the early days of the personal computer revolution, processor speed was incredibly important. The difference between a 1GHz processor and a 1.5GHz processor was noticeable, even to novices, and the importance of clock speed became ingrained in our minds. But nowadays things are a little different. As Ars Technica points out, comparing clock speeds between processors isn't as important as it was 10 years ago:
In a nutshell, the Pentium 4 took many more clock cycles to do the same amount of work as the original Pentium, so its clockspeed was much higher for the equivalent amount of work. This is one core reason why there's little point in comparing clockspeeds across different processor architectures and families -- the amount of work done per clock cycle is different for each architecture, so the relationship between clockspeed and performance (measured in instructions per second) is different.
For the most part, we've reached the point of diminishing returns for clock speed on desktop computers. Unless you're editing a lot of video or buying a laptop, you don't need to spend the extra money on more processor speed. For speed improvements, your money is best spent elsewhere: If you want to speed up your rig for gaming, buying a better video card makes more sense, and if you want to just speed up general performance, a solid state drive will boost your speed more than a new processor.
When you're looking to buy a new computer, or if you're interested in upgrading yours, the processor is generally the last thing you need to consider unless you have special, processor-intensive needs such as video editing.
Myth #5: DIY Isn't As Good As Store-Bought
The myth that DIY options aren't as good as products from a store goes far beyond tech purchases, but the idea that you'll get a better product from a chain store than something you can make yourself is just absurd.
Of course, making something on your own takes a little technical skill, but doing so can save you lots of money. One of the most obvious examples of this accessories. A laptop stand can cost $30 or more in a store, but you can easily make one yourself . The other benefit? You'll probably actually like what you make more than what you purchase.
There are exceptions. The most obvious is DIY phone stands for your car: while these can be tempting, and they're certainly cheap, they're illegal in most states of Australia
The bottom line? When investing money in technology, you need the facts. It's not just about being frugal; it's about not wasting money needlessly.