I’m a hand-me-down gadgeteer

With all of the new tablets and smartphones announced as of late — not to mention Christmas right around the corner — I’ve been thinking about my current stable of gadgets and whether I should upgrade or not.

The thing is, I’m not really the cutting-edge type.  We keep the household on a tight budget, so I don’t have tons of excess cash to throw around.  I was raised in a frugal family that hammered it into our minds that it’s okay to not have the latest and greatest. And I’ve also become a bit of hand-me-down gadgeteer.

My first iPhone was my brother-in-law’s old iPhone 3 which he shipped to me when he got a new one.  I kept that for a good long time, eventually paying a few bucks to upgrade to an iPhone 4 when the 4G game out.  Now with the new 5s, I’m still reluctant to upgrade because my 4 works just fine and I don’t want to have to buy a new external battery pack.

My father-in-law, who is a bleeding-edge gadget guy, keeps passing down his old goods to us.  He bought me an iPad mini last year that I’ve grown to love (and no, I’m not so rankled by the absence of a retina display that I’m going to ditch it now), as well as gave us his old iPad 1.  The latter I’ve turned into a car video device for our kids on trips, which is working great.

So I probably will hold off at least another year to upgrade my smartphone and tablet.  What is worrying me, however, is my home computer.  I’ve started to encounter a lot of troubling issues, such as random rebooting, program freezing, and loads of issues with my mouse.  I’ve been doing all sorts of diagnostics and cleanings on it, but so far it’s still doing these things.  I don’t know if the hard drive or motherboard is signaling me that they’re about to go, so I’m making a lot of backups on a regular basis and contemplating whether it’s time to buy a new PC.  I don’t even remember when I got this one.  Two years ago?  Three?  It’s been a while at least.

At least my work laptop is doing just fine, so I have a backup computer that can game if everything goes belly up.

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7 thoughts on “I’m a hand-me-down gadgeteer

  1. Have you ever considered building your own desktop? The benefits are an overall more stable system (with higher quality parts), you can reuse parts you already have (CD drives, cases, monitors, keyboards, etc.), and the price is significantly cheaper than a pre-built system. The catch is that you have to buy the component parts separately, and put them together yourself, but nowadays, thats not difficult to do. The most complex tool you need is a screwdriver.

  2. Is your graphics video card an nVidia with the latest drivers? I just found out that the drivers put out by nVidia since March has been causing problems including BSOD’s on some systems. Which might explain the problems I’ve been having.

  3. These days I’m on a tight budget also.

    I love my iPad Mini, but I waited for a nice deal before I got one. The retina display is certainly a nice thing to have, but far from essential to my mind.

    I would think a two year old PC should still be fine, unless maybe it was very low spec for its time. Or perhaps if you need to run everything at the highest possible settings, maybe for professional reasons. My desktop is a little over two years, and its still going strong with no significant problems.

    One thing I notice is that if I run games full-screen, there can be things happening in the background that I don’t get to know about which cause nasty surprises. Like Windows downloads a patch and decides to reboot to finish installing it. It does show a pop-up message that warns you a reboot is coming in X minutes and asking if that’s ok or if you want to cancel. But if you’re running full-screen you never see that message and find your PC suddenly shutting down for no apparent reason.

    The one problem I have is that KOTOR, downloaded via Steam, no longer works at all. I got it in a sale a while back and haven’t actually played it much yet, so that’s a downer. It worked fine when first acquired. I’m guessing the problem now could be something to do with driver changes, or maybe with the different version of DirectX I had to install to get Rift to work. Not only does it not work, it makes a mess of some of my other windows, moving them to different positions on the desktop than they were before running KOTOR.

  4. If your PC is two or three or more years old, I don’t think it would be a crime against frugality to replace it, especially if you go for solid midrange parts. My PC probably cost less than an iPad or some such gadget, it’s three years old now, and still perfectly playable. If it up and died I’d spend a similar amount on a new one.

    I definitely learned in my time in the games industry that NOBODY is publishing games that NEED latest and greatest hardware – it just destroys your potential market.

  5. I always gamed on a desktop, swore by it. Pitty the fools that would ever play seriously on a laptop. But recently, due to life, babies and planetary alignments of some sort, I had to get rid of my desktop and my man-cave-room … Poor me right?

    So I bought a MSI GX60 gaming laptop, and I’m playing on that ever since. And I’m loving it.

    Maybe post your PC specifications? Or your needs for your next PC?

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