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6 Technology Items You Should Buy Cheap

Which technology items can you buy super cheap and still expect near the same quality? Tech Talker Eric Escobar weighs in.

By
Eric Escobar,
August 6, 2015
Episode #184

Page 1 of 2

Recently, I discussed technology that is worth paying a bit extra for to get the most bang for your buck. This week, I’m going to talk about which items you can buy super cheap and still expect near the same quality.

Cables

The first thing in the lineup is probably one of the most well-known and that’s cables. Just about every cable out there is identical; a $10 cable performs just as well as a $100 equivalent. For example, when buying a new home theater system most people won’t blink an eye at spending a couple hundred dollars for top of the line cables, when for ten times less they could be getting the exact same quality.

Why is this the case? Well, cables transmit a signal between devices. With modern electronics most of these signals are digital. Meaning that what is transferred is stream of 0s and 1s across the cable. If a cable can’t transmit all of the 0s and 1s, then the signal will completely break down in a really noticeable way.

If you were watching TV or music through a digital cable and the signal was degraded, you would most likely lose the entire picture or the entire stream of music. Most people think that the color would be a bit off, or it wouldn’t be as clear, when in fact a $10 cable would give you an identical picture to a $100 cable. Don’t pay attention to sales words like gold plated, silver threaded, or other outrageous claims.

This goes for HDMI cables, TV cables, USB cables, Ethernet cables, and pretty much every cable that delivers a digital signal. The only place that this breaks down is when buying power cables (don’t skimp on power cables, like power strips or extension cords).

Hard Drives

Next up are hard drives. Most people are extremely loyal or disloyal to different brands of hard drives based upon their personal experience. I’ve heard from a ton of colleagues that they only trust brand x because brand y died a few years ago, so on and so forth. When actually studied though, there was no huge statistical difference between different brands and their failure rates.

I think this is pretty funny because of how many people feel so strongly that certain manufacturers are so much better than others. However, it’s great for the consumer because it means under most circumstances the end user is getting a good product.

When I shop for hard drives, I almost never pay attention to the brand, and instead focus on reviews and specs. I also don’t worry a ton about hard drives because I understand that they are temperamental.

CDs and DVDs

The same also goes for CDs and DVDs. If you can find a stack of blank CDs or DVDs, it doesn’t matter how generic the brand, they are going to be nearly identical quality to anything more expensive. I do the same thing for CDs and DVDs that I do for hard drives: I just wait for a sale and then buy the cheapest ones, which work great!

OK, now the next couple things are subjective, and you may not agree with them the same way I do. If you don’t agree, I would genuinely like you to leave me a comment on my Facebook page, because I would love to hear why ...

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