Living on the Bleeding Edge – Should You Buy a Gadget Right Away?

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Notice the change in size of the speaker holes.

Notice the change in size of the speaker holes.

With any device, there can be hardware issues in the earliest builds that are fixed in future builds. Manufacturing issues can be identified and resolved (e.g., screen adhesion issues that cause yellow tints, a la iPads), problematic components can be fixed by suppliers (e.g., screens that suffer from inconsistencies, WiFi components that can’t be completely fixed in software, etc.), and even components can be swapped out when they can’t be fixed. This is why hardware has revision numbers just like software does.

And so, should you buy a piece of consumer technology immediately after it’s released? Or should you wait awhile for the kinks to be worked out?

I’ve been thinking about this notion given some issues I’m experiencing with my Surface Pro 3. Indeed, I’ve delayed my second impressions post for the machine to see if they can be easily addressed. But it’s not specific to the Surface Pro 3, nor even to consumer technology in general. Many people say that you shouldn’t buy a car in its first model year, for example, because inevitably issues will be identified and fixed in subsequent model years. Automobile manufacturers handle the worst of these issues with recalls, of course, but then again their business model is different and cars are easier to fix compared to something like the Surface Pro 3 (which is almost impossible to repair).

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy a Surface Pro 3 right away, or any other gadget, if it offers something that you just can’t live without. But I do believe that if you wait a few months, you’re more likely to get a unit that doesn’t suffer from some of the teething pains of the first units built. Or, make sure you get something like Microsoft Complete that should provide for relatively easy exchanges or at least cover the device longer than the standard warranty.

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