Consumer tests and product reviews

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The Overwhelming Struggle with the Need for Stuff

George Carlin once blasted Americans (via a really funny comedy bit) for needing too much “stuff.” Nowhere is this truer than in the world of consumer electronics. It seems like every day there is some new gadget that looks great but that we’re convinced we don’t actually need (though we admit to wanting it really badly) but within six months becomes indispensable in our daily lives.

For example: a couple of years ago an iPad was considered something that nobody would really need but now there are all sorts of tablet computers being released. Some companies are even making tablet/laptop hybrids (which, let’s face it, look really cool in the commercials).
That’s great for the consumer electronics industry, but what does it mean for you personally and financially? You don't need to max out your credit cards to keep up.
And what if you’re struggling with finding an answer to the question of should you pay debt before saving? You’re undoubtedly trying to do something big - maybe buy a house, send a child to college, etc. Your debts are weighing on you. You need to save money.
But you really want that new toy. And everybody else has one. And it looks like it will make your life so much easier!
So how do you figure out whether or not you truly need it?

Is it Unique?

Does the new gadget perform a task that nothing you already own can perform for you? For example—smart TVs are great but if you have already got a Roku or a gaming console that will stream your media for you, you probably don’t need to buy a new television based on its “smarts” alone. If you don’t have those devices and have gotten truly tired of trying to stream TV on a laptop, investing in a smart TV (instead of a bunch of devices that stream media) could be a good idea - if you can afford it.

Will it Save You…Anything?

To continue with the smart TV example - a smart TV can save you a lot of space. You can get rid of your streaming media device, the dock for your MP3 player, etc. You can use one device to do the same job that would take a lot of other devices to perform. This saves you space and, over the long haul, money.

Have You Done Your Research?

One of the biggest problems with buying a new electronic device is that there will, inevitably, be a newer and better model released within 48 hours of your purchase. To prevent this from happening to you, do your homework. Find out whether or not a newer model is being developed or manufactured (or is coming down the pike). Find out what the outlook for your coveted device looks like. Is it set to be phased out within the next year? If it meets our first two criteria, you can afford it and it looks like it has a promising future (free of accessory purchases or upgraded versions at least for a while), it might be a worthwhile purchase.

There is a great infographic/chart thing on Gizmodo that will help you figure out whether you truly need that new gadget or not. How does your coveted item fare?