Bad tech and regrets: 7 ways to save money and get the best out of tech
We are in a digital world, whether we choose to accept and acknowledge that or not. It’s better to be in tune with tech than oblivious to it, because anyone will ultimately need to interact with it at some point in their lives. While the number of those with smartphones is increasing, laptops are now more popular than PCs and everyone is focused on getting the latest gadget news, there still are those who don’t really care that much. It’s perfectly fine not to want to be part of the mass confusion that is “tech”, but unless we learn to adjust, we’re going to fall in the potholes of marketing before we actually have a good experience with tech. Quick statistic about yours truly: 2 tablets totaled, 1 tablet stolen, 1 laptop malfunctioned a day after its warranty expired, 1 used laptop was a pretty bad blast from the past, 2 smartphones stolen, 4 smartphones broken, 1 smart watch misplaced by cats, 1 SDD incompatible with everything for whatever reason, 1 console that turned out to be modded and mostly useless for anything else than single-player games, 2 remotes destroyed, 1 router malfunctioned a couple days after its warranty expired, 4 USB flash drives went RAW on me after a use or two and the same things goes for two different microSD cards.
There are many of us out there who feel like they just have an aura or a magnetic field about them, because tech never lasts once in their hands. I am one of those people. Once I get a smartphone, use it for two weeks, decided to get it insured (because many reasons) and leave for the store, I drop it flat on cement and it shatters. Goodbye smartphone, hello monthly payments still going on for another two years before the carrier will replace the phone – because I didn’t get a chance to get insurance. Another familiar scenario would be: I just got used to this tablet after a few months after struggling with its bad UI, and actually started liking its quirks, but then out of nowhere a cat jumps out and the slate lands screen down on the floor. Seeing a screen break like that is worse than seeing someone faceplant a tree. Especially if you spent about $300 on it, because hey – it sounded exciting.
We fall into potholes that marketing campaigns and advertisers create for us and buy products that we ultimately end up hating. We neglect the tech that we get because deep down, we regret buying it. We turn to a cheaper approach, which would allow us to get high-end tech for a reasonable price – buying used tech. Before I get into this: don’t do it. Never. So I decided to buy a used laptop, something really nice and I even tested it out for a week. Everything went smooth as butter and I was convinced that even though it had its flaws in design, performance was what I was looking for and it did it well. I did benchmarks, long gaming sessions with various games, a lot of video playback, browsing about 8 hours each day using it as a work laptop and the whole shebang. Full-on test. It was perfect and I bought it.
If your definition of a perfect gaming laptop is 10 OS reinstalls, random reboots, USB Debug blue screen errors, overheating shutdowns and a slightly poorly constructed body, then I’ve got a deal for you! For this, I have to put aside my skepticism and believe in bad luck – or bad karma, because it was weird. After about two weeks, it all started with minor video card errors and escalated. Mind you, I did a fresh isntall of Windows 7 Ultimate genuine and installed all the drivers I was missing. A coffee spill cost me quite a few buttons off the keyboard to make things worse.. Why does Slender (yes, from 1996) cause a gaming laptop with excellent reviews overheat after 10 minutes? I suppose we have arrived to the definition of a person with bad luck in tech. I could go on, there are more gadgets on my kill list, but that’d be boring. It comes down to me wondering if it was my fault it went nuts – decided it wasn’t. I fixed it, though, for now at least.
Ultimately, the goal here is: not throwing money in the wind. That’s because once I cut my losses, I realized I could have bought a house by now. Picket fence and everything. It all comes down to small errors in judgment, but bad luck seems to have something to do with it nonetheless. As with any bigger investment, for lack of a better word that can sum up every little gadget you can buy, research is key. You can avoid a lot of issues if you do an hour of research before purchasing a laptop. More would be better, but an hour can tell give you a pretty good idea of what a device can do.
This preface serves the purpose of motivating you, dear reader, to heed my warning and learn how to not throw money at tech only to cry about it later. I’ve swallowed my pride and chose 10 things that I learned after more than two decades of bad luck with tech. It’s all just a theory, mind you, it never works for me. I had exactly the same problems with a different laptop which was bought brand new, after about three months of regular schoolwork use. Without further ado, here are 7 ways to make the best of the tech you buy.
- I repeat. Never buy used tech. – No matter how well you know the person you’re thinking of buying from, don’t do it. Tech is where everyone hides their dirty laundry and few of these people know how to get rid of their dirty laundry before passing the laundry basket on. I once asked someone to help me build a PC and they said they would give me their hard drive they didn’t use for half the price. I was about 14 and the hard drive was filled with porn. Besides risking finding obscene or even dangerous content on used devices, you never know what kind of installations, hardware modifications or some such things have been done to something before you get it.
- The same goes for smartphones, wearables, air conditioning systems, remote controls, tablets, laptops, scanners, anything. Tech can be reset, rescrewed, rebooted, re-engineered and most of the time, we wouldn’t even notice. Just don’t buy used tech. The worst part: unless you buy from an authorized used tech shop, you probably can’t return the device and don’t get a warranty for it. People don’t sell their used crap because it still works for them.
- Don’t order online unless you can test the product somewhere before. -This is an important step many forget about: testing the tech. That iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S6 might sound super-amazing from the commercials, Youtube reviews and various social media posts, but it might be totally wrong for you. Maybe you won’t like the user interface, maybe you don’t like the camera, maybe you find out that it doesn’t fit in your designated smartphone pocket, maybe you’ll end up discovering you have an allergic reaction every time you touch high-grade aluminum.
- Although nowadays online purchases do offer the possibility of returns, you could spare yourself and the retailer and its entire logistics team the hassle of you going out on a whim. Ask your friends to help you out and let you test the device you’re looking for for at least a few hours or if nobody around you has the product, try to visit stores that have it on display and ask customer service to help you figure it out, pretending you’re going to buy one if they don’t want to help. Stores want to sell things, so they prioritize sales. Use that to your advantage and get a good look and feel of the product. If you like it, go order it online, if not, go to the next store and try something else.
- Protect your tech, if at all possible. – Although tech is designed to look good, it isn’t designed to preserve itself that much. Manufacturers want to sell and they want their products to be disposable to some degree. Even if the design of the Galaxy S6 Edge is something you can only wonder at, it’s better to cover it up with a case. Even if you’re the most attentive person ever, mistakes happen. Your friend might knock it off the table in a drunken gurgle-laugh, you might fall over on the ice and drop it while snapping a selfie, anything can happen. Especially in outdoor environments, always keep a cover on your smartphone. Keep your laptop in a sleeve and your headsets in their case, just like you would with glasses. Always make sure to keep your tech as protected as possible without impacting the user experience.
- For smartphones, protection is crucial because they are our most used gadgets on a daily basis. Although skins are a nice way of providing a bit of protection for your phone, they are more accessories than anything else. A skin will protect your back panel from fingerprints and scratches, but it has no protection for your screen, unless it comes with a screen protector. These screen protectors are a good idea combines with silicone or stronger cases, but the best way to ensure that your smartphone stays in mint condition is to get a flip case, a dot view case or something of that nature that covers the entire device. I know, people want their nice premium phones to be cool and unprotected, so they can feel all that metal to it. But if you don’t have insurance or your warranty is over, dropping and destroying your phone will not be worth the feeling, especially if it’s an expensive premium phone we’re talking about. For laptops, the easiest way to protect them while traveling is a backpack made specifically for your laptop. My Toshiba Qosmio X505 is a beast of a machine weighing 12 pounds with a massive screen.
- If I were to use a simple laptop cover or a bag to carry it around, I would be exposing it to multiple risks: the bag ripping under the weight, the screen scratching, hitting walls and various objects with the bag on my shoulder and so on. The best option for transporting laptops is a backpack: it has stability, it protects both you and your device, it distributes the device’s weight evenly so your back isn’t hurt and it keeps your laptop much safer. Always go for a backpack, especially with larger laptops. Ultraportables like the MacBook and Surface Book are probably protected enough with sleeves and bags, as long as you are aware that these types of devices that are thin and light are prone to “injury”.Even if you never get to see the cover or sleeve enact its protecting-powers, it’s worth the investment, because at the end, your tech will be in mint condition if you want to resell. (nobody is going to want your cache- and data-filled laggy S6 by then, though).
- Get insurance! -Never forget about care plans. Don’t get greedy on the monthly fees and pay to have your device insured, because that guarantees your device will stay with you until you decide to switch. Although the total of insurance that we pay on a daily basis adds up terribly, it’s the only way we can assure ourselves that our initial investment doesn’t prove to be a mistake. It’s a psychological thing as much as it is a practical one. If you lose, break or get your device stolen, it will be replaced with virtually no hassle thanks to a few extra bucks, depending on the type of plan you choose. Configure them to your needs if possible to secure the longevity of your tech. Although it really hurts when the investment in insurance doesn’t pay off, the pleasant feeling of a new piece of tech is more important if you’re like me. The insurance game is a bitter one, I admit, but in a world where people are losing their common sense and disregard others and their property on a daily basis, it’s better to be safe than sorry, I think.
- Stay on top of your contracts, warranties, and insurance – If you do buy new tech with a warranty, which probably most of us do, stay on top of them. When you buy a lot of tech like I do, you get lost in all the paperwork with warranties, care packages and insurance. If you buy tech from a multitude of different companies with various software on them, it’s going to be hard to keep track of all your warranties and insurance. The best way to not forget that your washing machine’s warranty is going to be up in a couple of weeks is to create a dedicated file for everything. You can do this on a mobile device like a laptop or smartphone, or you can do it the old-school way using pen and paper.
- Every time you buy new tech and sort its warranty and insurance out, make sure to keep all the necessary receipts and contracts that you will need if your device needs to be replaced or repaired. Keep a journal and note the make of the tech, model, date of purchase, amount paid and warranty and insurance expiration dates. Keep this journal handy at all times and make a copy of the journal available for everyone who might use the tech that you just bought. For example, if you just bought a big-screen-TV, the journal entry about its information should be readily available at home and away from home as well. Using a dedicated drawer for this is a good idea.
- Upcycle and repurpose – If you invest in tech that you want to last, one thing you can consider in order to secure your investment for the future is upcycling and repurposing. If you have an old laptop or PC that still has good hardware that you can use, get dirty with it and try some hacks to improve the device or use the parts to make another, upgraded device. RAM, HDDS, SSDS, optical drives, keyboards and GPUs can be reused and repurposed if they are in good condition. You can use the parts from your outdated laptop to customize a new one (with the help of a professional, if you’re not tech-savvy enough) or sell them, even. If you’re good with tinkering and like to experiment, taking apart old gadgets and fashioning new ones out of them is also a good idea.
- For example, if you have some old speakers, you can repurpose the good hardware and casing and make your own speakers. It’s not very easy, but it’s a process through which you are going to learn a lot about how hardware and audio work together. Repurposing old or outdated tech is also a good way to save money and keep your losses to a minimum. For example, your old work laptop that can’t handle the work you’re doing on it anymore can be repurposed multiple ways. You can either hand it down to someone in your family who would use it for less intensive tasks that the tech can handle.
- At the same time, you can repurpose your old work laptop as your travel laptop for entertainment. At the same time, you could turn the laptop into a family machine: keeping track of chores, grocery shopping, movie nights, cooking recipes, lifehacks and all those small things an internet-connected device can help you out with. Another way you could go with outdated tech is remove the hardware that is just not cutting it – like the processor, GPU, RAM and storage and replace them with newer and better hardware, selling or donating or recycling the old ones. You need to have a laptop that permits upcycling or a PC in order to do this, it won’t work with every gadget.
- Repair, recondition, sell – This is a bit of a hypocritical suggestion right here, but it’s on this list because things should change. Not all used tech is bad, but many people take advantage of people who are trying to save some money. Don’t be that person if you’re selling used tech – don’t sell defective things or things that you know won’t last for the better part of the month. Tech is not timeless, but it can be collectible. If you have old consoles, monitors, laptops or accessories that might qualify as vintage or fashionable things, you can sell them online if they’re in good condition. If your time, money and skills allow you, you can recondition or redesign tech – such as old phones, monitors, consoles, joysticks, accessories and much more – in order to turn them into unique pieces of art that can be functional and beautiful at the same time.
- This is a good way to make some extra money, but also a good way of preventing waste and recycling. There are many people out there who would buy repaired tech for experiments, kids or even pets, who would not be bothered by older or outdated tech. It all depends on how people use their devices. You might get a lucky break. A good thing to do is learn about repairing your tech as well, because you could sell devices that you no longer use or that no longer work properly if you can repair them. This is another opportunity to learn about hardware and can be a good project to do in the family, with the kids. If your laptop’s DVD drive is broken, you can easily learn how to repair it if it’s not a big issue – dust clogs, dirt, trapped wires, disconnected cables, missing parts and more can be mended at home without professional help, as long as you’re aware of the risks.
5 Reasons You NEED To Play The Final Fantasy VIII Remaster
After many years of fans begging Square Enix to remaster Final Fantasy VII, they finally listened and did just that. There were numerous excuses as to why the game’s re-release had lagged behind the re-releases of both VII and IX, with the most common excuse being that the game’s original code was lost years ago. However, the company made it happen and the game is finally available for modern audiences to play on modern hardware today. We’re going to give you 5 reasons why you should do just that.
First time available on modern hardware
As we’ve already said, this is the first time that the game is available on modern hardware. While the game originally launched for PS1 back in 1999, it later got a PC port in 2000. That means that is has been a whopping 19 years since a new version of the game has been available for purchase, and that wait was a brutal one. However, it is finally over and you can now play this classic game on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch along with PC. If the lack of modern hardware support was stopping you from checking out, that excuse just got thrown out the window.
The visuals look better than ever
Thankfully, Square Enix did not just slap this port together quickly and throw it out there to shut everyone up. They did a terrific job of putting on a shiny new coat of paint for the game, with the character models in particular looking much better. While things like environment textures didn’t get quite the same amount of attention, this is nevertheless the best that the game has ever looked. It also helps that the game is simply beautiful from a design standpoint, with the game’s world being gorgeous to behold even though we’re dealing with the hardware limitations of 1999.
Quality of life improvements
While those who played the game 20 years ago will still be getting what is essentially the same experience, Square Enix did add some quality of life improvements to put it more in line with current JRPGs. These changes include the likes of increasing battle speed by 3 times, shutting off random encounters completely and even a cheat to give you max HP and limit breaks. While these may seem minor, these will go a long way to ease some of the tedium that many feel after some particularly long gaming sessions. Max HP and Limit Breaks will also make the incredibly tough Ultima and Omega Weapon boss fights a lot easier to deal with.
The Final Fantasy series is known for having its fair share of enticing side quests and mini games, but there isn’t a single one that is as addicting as Triple Triad. The game is essentially a card game that is played on a 3×3 grid, and each card has a certain number on the top, bottom, left and right sides. You need to place your cards in a manner that the numbers on your cards are higher than your opponents, and seeing as your card can be attacked from four different sides this can be tricky. You’re able to challenge many different characters to a match throughout the course of the entire game, and doing so comes with plenty of nice rewards that will make your quest easier.
The game is awesome
While our previous points focused on specific elements of the game, this one is a simple fact that has been true since 1999: the game is awesome. Unfortunately, releasing immediately after Final Fantasy VII (a watershed moment for gaming) put it under a very cruel microscope, with many knee jerk reactions simply saying it “isn’t as good as VII.” However, in the years that have passed people have revisited the game, and the consensus has definitely changed. This adventure that Square created is unlike any other in the series, being host to an ambitious and bizarre plot filled with some of the best characters the series has ever seen. If you’ve played the game before then this is the perfect time to experience this masterpiece all over again, and if you haven’t then what are you waiting for?
10 Huge Games Still Coming In 2019
2019 has been yet another good year for gaming so far, with several games releasing that will be big contenders for game of the year once the curtain closes. However, despite the year already being more than halfway over, there are still some huge titles on the horizon that are sure to make their own dents on the coming best-of lists. This article will list the 10 biggest games that are still coming in 2019.
A new game from Remedy Entertainment is always highly-anticipated, and Control is no different. The game is an action-adventure game in the same style as Alan Wake or Quantum Break, but with a supernatural twist. Players will control Jesse Faden, who possesses a variety of supernatural abilities like telekinesis, levitation and more. She will be using her abilities in order to defeat an enemy known only as the Hiss, which has corrupted reality. Control launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on August 27th.
It has been many years since the last game in the Borderlands series released, but the hiatus is finally coming to an end very soon. Those who have played previous games in the series will feel right at home with this game, as it’s once again a loot-driven FPS. The game will offer more zany characters and a charming and insane world to explore, all while dealing with new antagonists Troy and Tyreen Calypso along with their Children of the Vault cult. Borderlands 3 launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 13th, with a Google Stadia port release date being TBA.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is returning soon with Breakpoint, which will serve as a continuation of previous game Wildlands. The game is set in an open world environment called Aurora, which is a fictional island in the Pacific Ocean. Players will control Lieutenant Colonel Anthony “Nomad” Perryman, who is a special forces operative that was sent to the island to investigate a series of disturbances in the area. Breakpoint launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 4th, with a Google Stadia port coming in November.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Each new installment in the Call of Duty series is always huge, but Modern Warfare’s release marks a first for the long-running franchise. It will be the first game in the series that is reimagining of a previous game in the series, taking 2004’s original game and updating its mechanics and themes to match today’s world. The game will still have some of the beats that the first game had, but will also incorporate lots of surprises to make it a fresh experience. Modern Warfare launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 25th.
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds is one that will be very highly-anticipated for fans of Fallout: New Vegas, as this game serves as a sort of spiritual successor to that game. It will be an open world RPG that allows you to explore many unique areas crawling with plenty of deadly foes. Players will also be able to encounter and recruit NPCs as companions that have their own personal missions and stories to take part in. The Outer Worlds launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 25th, with a Switch port also being in the works.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
It seemed very unlikely that Luigi’s Mansion would become a recurring franchise for Nintendo following the original GameCube game, but here we are. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is coming to Switch, which also means it will be the first home console release since the original game back in 2003. This time the game is set in a haunted hotel rather than a mansion, and Luigi has some new tricks up his sleeves to take down all those ghosts. Luigi’s Mansion 3 will launch exclusively for Nintendo Switch on October 31st.
If you’re looking for the most ambitious (and weirdest) game still coming in 2019, then look no further. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding has perplexed gamers ever since its announcement, and each new trailer that releases just brings more and more questions to the table. It is Kojima’s first game since breaking up with Konami after the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phanton Pain (and the cancellation of Silent Hills), and it looks like Kojima has taken the newfound complete creative control to deliver something truly original. Death Stranding launches exclusively for PS4 on November 8th.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
At this point we all know what to expect from a new Pokemon game, and Sword and Shield seems poised to deliver even more cute creatures for players to capture and battle very soon. What sets Sword and Shield apart from its predecessors is that it will be the first home console release for the series, which is saying something considering the series has been around for over 20 years. Pokemon Sword & Shield launches exclusively for Switch on November 15th.
If you’re a fan of Shenmue then nothing needs to be said for the inclusion of the upcoming third game on this list. Fans of the series have been waiting nearly two decades for a follow-up to the second game, and in just a couple of months that will finally be delivered to them. Brought to life thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, the game continues the adventure of protagonist Ryo Hazuki as he hunts down his father’s killer. Shenmue III will launch for PS4 and PC on November 19th.
id Software’s DOOM 2016 was one of the best FPS games to come along in years, so it’s a no-brainer that the follow-up would be on this list. Eternal is set to offer yet another intense FPS campaign for players to plunge into, while also offering a multiplayer component that greatly improves upon the last game’s underwhelming multiplayer mode. There will also be twice as many demon types than there was in the last game, meaning that the chaos level just got that much higher. DOOM Eternal launches for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and PC on November 22nd.
5 Most Exciting Announcements From The Xbox E3 2019 Press Conference
Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2019 Press Conference has officially come to an end, and with it came plenty of big announcements to get excited about. Some new games were announced, whereas previously-announced games got new footage and/or release dates. In this article we’ve narrowed it all down to the 5 most exciting announcements.
New Xbox “Project Scarlett” Coming Holiday 2020
We’ve known for a while now that a new Xbox was in the works, but now we know when to expect it. Microsoft’s fourth console (which hopefully has a better official name than Xbox One did) will be a big step up from the previous console. Things like much faster load times, an AMD Processor that is four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, 8K Resolution and 120 FPS were all mentioned. A price and exact release date weren’t mentioned. It will also be launching with…
Halo Infinite Coming Holiday 2020, Launching On Both Xbox One and Project Scarlett
The wait for the next Halo game has been longer than ever before for series fans, and the announcement at E3 revealed that the wait will continue. Halo Infinite will not be launching until Holiday 2020, meaning it will have been 5 years since the previous game released with Halo 5. It will also be launching on Xbox One and Project Scarlett, meaning the new console will have a big launch title for fans to get pumped about.
Cyberpunk 2077 Coming April 2020, Stars Keanu Reeves
It’s hard to pick a game that people have been more excited about than Cyberpunk 2077, and after Microsoft’s press conference we’re even more excited. Not only is it coming in April of next year, but Keanu Reeves himself will be playing a “key” role in the game. Everything shown from the game has looked great so far, so hopefully it all pans out and we have another classic from CD Projekt RED come April 2020.
FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin Collaboration Elden Ring Announced
This one was actually leaked prior to the presentation, but Dark Souls developer FromSoftware and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin are collaborating on a new game. The game is called Elden Ring, and it will be a departure from the developer’s most recent games as it will be open world. Very little information on the game is known at this point, as it is still in the early stages of development.
Phantasy Star Online 2 Is Coming West
It took a very long time, but the popular MMORPG is finally coming west. The game is coming to Xbox One in a free-to-play form in Spring 2020, so the wait won’t be that much longer. “There will be no limitations on game experiences,”says Sega, because they want to “provide all players with a fair and exciting experience.”
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