I've been thinking about buying a new computer. I fully expect that within a couple of weeks I will have made the purchase. It's probably worth noting that I don't really need a new computer. But in a way, that's irrelevant. The computer I have (an Apple G3) is perfectly fine. I'm writing this article on it right now. It lets me check my e-mail obsessively, surf the Internet, listen to radio stations around the world and scan and manipulate photos of my cat. In the grand scheme of things, it's a miracle. It looks nice and does what it's supposed to.
Over the past few weeks, though, doubt has seeped into my head like water into a leaky foundation. The machine's been crashing a lot. I've lost a couple of things and been frustrated while it stalled, sputtered and then froze up. I've watched what was once a rocket of a computer be left in the dust by newer, sleeker, more powerful models.
An idle flip through a computer magazine at the doctor's office (Apple porn!) meant that it was only a matter of time before my eye strayed.
I shudder to think how many computers I've owned. Upgrades are understandable, even occasionally necessary, especially when you're on the computer as much as I am. What it often comes down to, though, is computer envy. Have faith in your trusty computer and all is well. Let your mind stray for just a minute and you're screwed.
I made the mistake of looking at sale prices online. Suddenly, the Web sites of 10 different computer dealers are at the top of my bookmark list. (I just checked them again, midway through writing this.)
You try to think rationally and remind yourself that you really don't need one and probably can't afford one. But it's no use.
I'm not a voracious consumer, and am about as far from an impulse buyer as you can find, but the computer industry is built on this kind of irrational shopping. The machine you buy today will be obsolete two months from now. Nothing becomes yesterday's toy faster than computer hardware.
The gleaming G4 I have my eye on will be replaced on the shelves in September by a new, ludicrously fast G5. Why not buy a G5 now? I don't need it. Although that might change eventually, when they launch the G6 or G7.
This is a good time to buy a new machine. (There's that wacky logic again.) The launch of the G5 means older models are being sold at low prices.
Sure, you could keep banging away on that old machine, save some money and soldier on, but after the thought creeps into your mind, that isn't really an option.
"C'mon," a friend laughed. "They're practically giving them away. How can you not get one?"
Well, since you put it that way .