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ATPM 16.07
July 2010




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by Mark Tennent,

What a Waste

In the past seven years we have been through: six new desktop Macs, three laptops, two scanners, four printers, eight operating system upgrades, twenty hard disks, and seven cell phones. All of which, when shared between two of us, is at least fifteen grand each.

Then there are the six iPods (only two of which are mine), six monitors (CRT and LCD), a menagerie of mice, three routers, one switching hub, six TV capture devices, and four colour TVs. Plus upgrades to various pieces of software such as Creative Suite (which always hurts the most), QuarkXPress, and FileMaker Pro. In addition, there have been quite a few FTP clients and servers, as they gain our favour over the previous favourite. If only Fetch, the grand-daddy of them all, would handle WebDAV, we would stick with it. We still keep buying the updates in hope.

This profligacy is not something we are proud of, but at least we have recycled as much as possible by selling or giving kit away—the computers themselves being most easily sold. Macs at three or four years old may be obsolete compared with the latest computers, but they are still capable machines with a high resale value. We have a drawer full of old cell phones, along with SCSI leads, terminators, FireWire 400 cables, wireless routers, and a pretty decent Canon SLR 35mm camera complete with film. But it is completely the opposite for inkjet printers.

The dustmen have collected one Canon and two Epson A3 inkjet printers from the front of our studio. The only problem with them has been blocked print heads, which are more expensive to repair than buying a new printer. With our latest printer, we have vowed to use manufacturer’s OEM cartridges to see if it makes any difference.

It also shames us to think that in the same period we have been through twelve garden shredders. They always seem to last about a year, and we return them just before their guarantee expires. On the other hand, we have only had three vehicles, two Hondas and a beaten-up, sixteen-year-old Toyota pick-up, which I still shed a tear over selling.

Cars are supposed to be the most complicated consumer products and the easiest to use. In our experience they are the most long-lasting, too.

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Reader Comments (6)

Scott Schuckert · July 2, 2010 - 10:49 EST #1
I'm sorry, what was the point of your article? That spending money on Apple products was a waste? That you buy far more hardware than you need? That things in general don't last long enough? I have no clue.
Mike Horstman · July 3, 2010 - 04:50 EST #2
I have to ask: were all of these purchases really necessary (i.e., replacing bad/obsolete HW), or just because you want to keep up with the latest kit? Since 1994, we've bought/inherited new and used Macs, etc. and handed them down/around to keep them in use as long as possible. A bro-in-law still uses my son's '99 G3 iMac, and the Personal LaserWriter 320 lasted 14.5 yr. Total HW/SW costs for 7 desktops, 4 laptops, 2 multifuncs, 5 printers, 6 OS upgrades, 7 HDs, 18 cellulars (no iPhones): $24.480/16 yr/6 users = $255/user/yr. By comparison your £30.000 = $45,600/7 yr/2 users = $3257/user/yr, or 12.8x as much.

I'm certainly not criticizing—only you can gauge the value of your purchases to your life and well-being (our musical instruments are worth more than all our cars); but it does seem like a lot of money…

I guess my point is that it IS possible to have a credible Mac experience on a more modest budget.

YM obviously MV

Regards from the US
Avery Ray Colter · July 4, 2010 - 01:41 EST #3
Not that I don't have a drawer full of odds and ends, but I am still using the G4 desktop with a 800MHz upgrade processor as my home server. Laptops I have been going through more - those Clamshell iBook G4s seem to really have problems. I haven't gotten a new desktop unit in years, and all my laptops are used. One of the reasons I like Apple stuff is generally the lack of waste - a used one can last and last.
Grover Watson · July 4, 2010 - 11:39 EST #4
Over the years, I've learned to slow down that Apple replacement cycle just a bit, but it's gets hard not to rush out and buy the latest and greatest from Cupertino. We have 4 desktops in the house, complete with LCD monitors, One Macbook, one iPad, 2 iPods, one which lives on my Sony clock radio dock full time, A 3G iPhone which is going on ebay the second I buy an iPhone 4.
We have old cars too, including a 15 year old Civic, a ten year old GMC Pickup, and a 13 year old Escort. You've got to draw the (Replacement) line somewhere! :)
Mark Tennent · July 9, 2010 - 05:17 EST #5
Regarding the num ber of Macs over the last 7 years.

They have all been swapped out at about 4 or 5 years old or when they have broken (as in laptops) or are unable to keep up with the tasks they are bought to do. The first pair in the series 7 years ago, were 5 years old, their replacements lasted another 5 years before being replaced

These are work machines and if they make work too slow, the Mac gets the push. The last time was because we needed faster video compression. When a 2GHz MacBook compresses video quicker than the desktop Mac, it's time to upgrade.
Grover Watson · July 9, 2010 - 23:29 EST #6
I think Macs are a incredible value because their life-cycles are so long. I remember teaching my toddler son on one of the first PPC Macs back in 1996, just before the Blue and White G3 hit the stores. I sold that B&W unit to my now current boss and HIS kids are using it! Longevity. A term never used in conjunction with PCs. I can apply it to every Mac I ever owned from Desktops to Laptops. It's a shame so many people see the price tag on a Mac Pro Tower and buy a PC at half the price to find out two years later they bought junk that isn't worth a dime. Being cheap never pays off.

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