Five reasons to stop and think before you invest in brand new tech

Oct 20

Technology really is everywhere – from your trusty tablet to wearable tech, new gadgets are being released almost before we’ve got the hang of our old ones. In 2014, the Consumer Electronics Association found that the average UK adult owns 8 tech products – so before you rush out to buy yet another shiny new gadget, here are five things to stop and think about:

  1. Is your old tech really past it’s sell by date?

Mass production and automated manufacturing is efficient and reliable, but it also has a downside: our tech is harder to fix. As a result, we’re in the habit of throwing everything away as soon as we hit the first hurdle. But before you rush out to replace it – can you get more life out the gadget you’ve already got? Think about how you can fix the tech that’s troubling you: if your laptop is running slow, try reinstalling the OS (instructions here for Mac and Windows). If your tablet won’t charge, why not try replacing the battery or charger instead of the tablet itself? If your Android phone is full of bugs, install a firmware update. If your iPhone screen is cracked, why not tackle it the old-fashioned way? Your local repair man should be able to provide you with a replacement screen.

  1. What are the risks of being an early adopter?

In the fast-moving world of technology, the big brands have to keep up with the competition and this often means releasing their latest gadget with limited testing. You will have read a multitude of news stories in recent years of problems with brand new devices coming to light very soon after launch, which means early adopters are left with a device that’s more stupid than smart! In 2010, Apple’s launch of the iPhone 4 was clouded with complaints of unreliable phone signal.  It turned out that the position of the antennae meant you’d block reception if you held your phone in the wrong way, and the only solution was to hold the phone differently, or buy a plastic case. So hold fire a moment before you rush out to be first to buy!

  1. Is brand new really that cool?

Gadgets can be shiny and smart without being brand new! Tech changes so quickly that lots of people will replace their gadget with every new model that’s released, so they always have the latest device. So it’s worth considering if you can get your gadget second hand. Classified ad sites like Preloved are full of the latest gadgets at bargain prices.

  1. What are you going to do with your old gadget if you replace it?
    The last thing anyone wants is a kitchen drawer full of outdated mobile phones – so once you’ve decided to invest in a new gadget, think about what you’re going to do with the old one. Could you recycle it? We’re so used to throwing everything away that it’s easy to forget that your rubbish could be another man’s riches. Technology recycling is a fast-growing industry – and there is a host of companies like Onrecycle that help you to find the right recycling service for you. So don’t send your gadget to landfill, where harmful chemicals (particularly within the battery) won’t break down and valuable parts can’t be salvaged. Do good for the environment and earn some pocket money at the same time. The parts from your old mobile phone will be used to build working phones, that can be sent to developing countries or mobile phone and insurance companies who need to replace their customers’ handsets.

  1. Could you get creative and upcycle your tech?
    If you don’t want to recycle your gadgets, why not upcycle them? There is a wealth of websites out there that will give you ideas of how to create something new from your old devices – from crafting with old CDs to building new tech from old gadgets. Why would you throw your old speakers away when you could make them into a Bluetooth cello?