There’s an article over here which calls itself an “Overclocking Buyer’s Guide.”
Not to particularly pick on this specific article (the same can be said for others elsewhere like it). but it represents a growing trend we see these days: the presumption that you’re made of money.
Not even going to comment about the cost of the performance systems (well, until recently, I never saw $850 processors being touted to overclockers), but when the value system costs almost $1,500 without a monitor, and the real cheap-ass system is over $1,100, I know these aren’t the kind of numbers most of you reading this are used to.
Yes, there’s a bit of goldplating here and there, but that’s not really the key problem here.
The key problems lie elsewhere, and there’s two of them:
1) Prices are inflating: If you looked at the prices for top-of-the-line, or close-enough, from 12-18 months ago compared to today, you’re pretty much paying rather more for items today than you did then.
Some items are arguably worth it, some are not. However, it’s pretty clear that if a product can get itself a fancy name implying triumphant doom and destruction, that’s worth a hefty premium.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the product actually delivered such, but when the only significant additional costs to the product seems to be the amount of crack the copy writer had to smoke before writing new levels of gory hype, along with the costs of the ad campaign, you ought to think twice about what exactly it is you’re paying for.
It’s a steep price to pay for words, no matter how bloodlust-stirring.
Even when there’s more than words backing up the higher price, it’s surely a change in the definition of value when $400 video cards show up in “value” systems.
But there is something more important to consider.
2) The missing four-letter words
Articles like this live in the eternal now. This means certain four-letter words are excluded, words like “time” and “wait” and “cost” used in comments like: ” What will these items cost if I wait a while for them?”
We live in a four-dimensional world, and one of those dimensions is another four letter word: time, as in “Is this the right time to buy?”
Watching folks pretending that time doesn’t exist is like watching an ant who doesn’t look up. He’ll never see your foot coming.
Of course, in any discussion of top-end systems, time has always been a factor (at least for those with more sense than money).
But now we find ourselves having to ask the same questions about the value systems.
We’ve always been a fan of the word “wait.” Some would say we’re overly fond of it.
However, what’s available now doesn’t fit our definition of the word “value.” We think that a few months from now, you’ll be able to get as good or a little better in the value line for a few hundred USDs less. Add a few reasonable economies and small sacrifices, and we think the more-or-less functional equivalent of that $1,500 will be more like $1,000.
For instance, the latest generation of video GPUs offers a significant step up in performance from the previous generation, at a significant price. Yes, one can say, “Buy the last generation for $200 less,” but wouldn’t it be better, more complete advice to take the fourth dimension into account and say, “If you can wait a while, you’ll probably be able to get lower-end video cards using the newest GPUs offering (well, maybe after a little work) most of the increased bang for $200 less?
And frankly, many will find even then that the new “value” isn’t value enough because it doesn’t deliver enough increased bang for their buck.
We could be wrong, but in most cases, we think that makes a big difference to the average person reading this.
Big enough that the best answer is no answer, at least for a while.
At the very least, if one truly wants to lay out all the options, that ought to be considered just as valid an option as any goodie list.
Pandering To The Impatient
Any computer website has to ask itself the question, “Are we here to help the makers of computer equipment sell products, or are we here to help the takers of computer equipment buy products?
What I’m afraid often happens is that the computer hardware site acts like the equivalent of the local gun store, with the clientele usually showing up drunk and frenzied demanding a gun. (It doesn’t help that many of our websites/gun stores essentially offer free drinks at the door, either.)
Whether it’s a gun or a graphics card, that’s really not the best time for that person to be buying one. Sure, you’re doing what the person wants at that particular moment, but is it really in that person’s best interest to get what he wants while he’s in that state?
Wouldn’t it be wiser to at least point out other options, the most prominent being “wait?” Wouldn’t that present a fuller, more complete picture than just pointing out the features of the guns on sale?
Well, there is one difference between real gun stores and websites. Real gun stores are in business to sell guns and make money. They’re generally not going to spend much effort determining whether or not you really need one, and they probably won’t tell you that the gun you want is going on sale next week, either.
Hardware sites aren’t under such constraints. They’re not in the business of selling equipment.
Or are they?