Ah, the good old bleeding edge. How often have I gazed into your red-rimmed chasm!

The basic conundrum is this: if you buy the latest, best, newest thing available, you’re either an idiot or you have way too much money, and possibly both. The phrase ‘early adopter’ has the same negative connotation to me that ‘fanboi’ has; basically, someone who has gone past reason and enthusiasm into the realm of obsession. You probably already know at least one person, if not more, who is hopelessly devoted to some trendy icon and will like anything associated with it no matter how expensive or tacky.

For instance, what about the wig aficionado who loves all things by Revlon including wigs by Revlon. These folks will buy every product with a Revlon name printed on its box such as the extensive Revlon cosmetic lines for eyes, lips, face and nails. Revlon also creates many beauty tools and brushes and a bunch of different hair colorings which really look great. (I can’t attest to that). Now Revlon has at least 5 (and still growing) Revlon fragrances.

I don’t care whether you’re so filthy rich that you can fill up warehouses with anything that the tech industry cranks out. You’re no better than the other impulse buyers and marketing prey who understand exactly what they’ve been told to understand, if anything. “Just tell me what the next big thing is to buy, and I’ll buy it,” they say. “And I’ll help you market your gadget in many ways, including ridiculing anyone who’s behind the curve, or inside the box, or lacking in awesome.”

On the other hand, the usual early adopters also include reviewers, who are often the very last people you should trust about a product (psst, a lot of them either get paid somehow, or have unalterable and/or subconscious prejudices; neither will help you make an unbiased decision!). However, there are some notable and valuable exceptions (I find Tom’s Hardware to be extremely useful, for example, and far more objective than most when it comes to the whole AMD versus Intel or Nvidia versus ATi debate).

The problem with even reasonable and level-headed reviewers is that they have no clue how the product is going to hold up over time. Who could? Things happen. Flaws appear. Unanticipated interactions, wear and tear, et cetera…

I’m interested in future-proofing as well as getting the most for my money. Neither one of those things are likely to happen if I can’t get enough information…which is simply not going to happen until a product has been on the market for a while. So I have to find the magic spot between ‘new enough to be around for a while’ and ‘old enough to have proved itself (and not be ridiculously expensive)’.

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