When Should You Buy Your Next Gadget?

As Laptop Mag's Avram Piltch explains, if you want to reach a state of true techstasy, you may need to repress your desire to buy a new gadget today and wait for the next version to come out.

To be fair, playing the waiting game to buy great new gear is an endless cycle, so don't feel that you need to wait at all. It's just nice to know what's around the corner to make your own judgement.


The iPhone

If you have your heart set on purchasing a new iPhone, don't do it yet. Every rumour points to the arrival of a much-improved product in a few months. We don't know what exact specs the iPhone 5 will have. We don't even know if it'll be called the iPhone 5 (my money's on "the Brand Spanking New iPhone"), but we can be pretty certain it will have 4G LTE, a faster processor, a better camera, and a larger and sharper screen.

While four or five months may seem like a long time to wait, most iPhone owners are on two-year phone contracts that usually won't allow them to upgrade until after 20 months. Do you really want to spend 2013 being known as the loser who has to "take a grenade" with Siri's older, slower moving sister while your friends cosy up to the new model?


Windows tablets

Let's face the facts. If you want to buy a Windows 7 tablet, you're either a multitouch masochist or a sadistic CTO, looking to pinch-zoom in on employee suffering. Though Windows 7 runs all the applications you could ever want, its touch-unfriendly interface makes it really difficult to use with adult-sized fingers. Ever try tapping the X widget to close a window? You'll need to stick your index finger in a pencil sharpener first, so you can make sure it's thin enough.

Coming later this year, Windows 8 offers a very touch-friendly Metro UI and a host of touch-friendly apps on top of it. Even better, Windows 8 will run on ARM-based tablets, allowing for thinner, lighter and longer-lasting designs. A slew of new convertible notebooks that run Windows 8 is coming too. I can't wait for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, which bends its hinge back 180 degrees to become a slate. Even Kanye West would sit in his seat long enough to wait for Windows 8.


Ultrabooks

The first generation of ultrabooks — a new category of uberthin, fast-booting portable PC — arrived last year with prominent entries from all the big vendors. We're huge fans of current Ultrabooks like the ASUS Zenbook UX31 and Toshiba Portege Z835, but it's worth noting that new generation of improved specs will arrive in coming weeks. Upgraded versions will sport Intel's faster, more efficient third-generation Core Series processors (aka Ivy Bridge), and many will offer higher-resolution displays.

The Ultrabooks we're excited about: The ASUS ZenBook Prime will offer a generous 1920x1080 screen that will let you watch HD movies at their native resolution, while viewing more of your favourite web pages and documents without scrolling. Meanwhile, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon could be the ultimate productivity Ultrabook when it launches in coming weeks. It will pack a gorgeous 14-inch, 1600x900 matte display into a 19mm thick chassis that weighs just 1.36kg. Plus, you'll get the industry's best keyboard.


MacBook Pros

If you have your heart set on an Apple MacBook Pro, tell your heart to go on without one for just a little longer. Everyone expects Apple to announce a new lineup of MacBook Pros in June, and these new notebooks will reportedly weigh less, feature high-resolution "retina" displays and provide USB 3.0 ports in addition to running Ivy Bridge CPUs. These notebooks will also be running Apple's new OS X Mountain Lion software, which brings more iPad-like functionality to Macs along with stronger security.

Unless a pack of rabid Windows fanboys breaks into your house and smashes your current MacBook Pro with a Metro-UI styled hammer, you can hold on for another few weeks. The retina display, which should show more content on the screen at once, is reason enough to wait.


Android tablets

Though we've seen some speedy quad-core tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, we're still waiting for Android tablet makers to come out with screens that have higher than 1280x800 resolution. Both ASUS and Acer have announced 1920x1200 tablets, but neither one has hit the market yet. If you plunk down $800 on a tablet now, you may feel silly when the new HD models arrive within the next couple of months. But again, if you have a need for one, don't let us stop you. The curent crop of Android tablets are still a great alternative to the Apple universe.


Smart TVs

Apple can play coy all it wants, but many industry insiders believe that the Cupertino company plans to launch its own TV later this year. There's no question that the Apple TV will have deep iTunes integration, a gorgeous screen (Apple is known for that) and some kind of Siri-based voice control.

When it comes to launching new Smart TVs, Apple won't be alone. LG recently showed off its G2 Smart TV, which uses the Google TV 2.0 interface, supports voice commands and comes with a gesture-controlled "Magic" remote. Lenovo just began shipping its Android 4.0-powered K55 Smart TV in China, and it may come here at some point as well. The Samsung and Sony's of the world are also about to launch a whole new 2012 range of TVs onto the Australian market.


Windows phones

The Nokia Lumia 900 has a gorgeous design and the HTC Titan II has an awesome 16-MP camera. However, when it comes to specs, apps and basic multitasking, Windows Phones still lag behind their Android and iPhone counterparts.

With Windows Phone 8 due out later this year, Microsoft could finally start to close the feature gap with Apple and Google. According to some reports, the new mobile operating system will support higher-resolution screens, dual-core CPUs, NFC payments and apps that can control other apps — a necessity for true multitasking.

Microsoft has issued some conflicting statements about whether current Windows Phones would get an OS upgrade, so I wouldn't count on the Lumia you buy today running Windows 8 tomorrow. Beautiful phones, though.


Ereaders

There are several great ereader options on the market right now (if you count overseas availability as well). However, as strong as the ereader offerings are today, they're about to get much better. Barnes & Noble just released its Simple Touch with GlowLight, and rumour has it that Amazon is set to release its own backlit e-ink-based Kindle in coming weeks.

However, backlit e-ink is just the tip of this innovative iceberg. Expect Amazon to launch the second-generation Kindle Fire 2 later this year, complete with higher-res screen options and possibly larger form factors like 8.9 inches. Flush with investment money from Microsoft and not content to stand still, Barnes & Noble is sure to release a new Nook Tablet sometime later this year as well. We'd expect the next Nook to also have a higher resolution than 1024x600.

There's also a persistent rumour that Amazon will release Kindles using colour e-ink later this year. We just reviewed the colour e-ink-powered Ectaco Jetbook Color, so the technology is already out there. How bad would you feel if you bought an old-school greyscale Kindle today, only to see one with a backlight or a colour screen come out within a few months?


BlackBerrys

Research in Motion, the company that makes Blackberry phones, seems to be stuck in a time warp, offering phones that have the best specs of 2009, including single-core 800MHz CPUs, tiny 2.4-inch screens and an outmoded BlackBerry 7 OS.

What we're looking forward to: RIM seems to understand the problem too as it plans to release an entirely new line of phones running its new BlackBerry 10 OS later this year. The new touch-friendly BlackBerry London phone, complete with a bigger screen and faster processor than we've seen on a BlackBerry before, should arrive by Christmas. If you must have a BlackBerry, this is the one to wait for.


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Top image: Shutterstock/WilleeCole

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Comments

    Mate why don't you go ahead and pick up a retail electronics magazine and just list the contents. If you have this attitude to buying equipment you will never get around to upgrading anything! There is always a newer/better version of these products coming out.... That's how the companies continue to make money. Learn to live with the fact that you may not have the latest version of every product all the time. Aim for every other generation when upgrading maybe?

      I have a friend who suffers this problem. He still has a Nokia 3200 (Think 2001), and as soon as he sets his heart on buying a particular smartphone, the next model gets announced, so he decides to wait for it and the market response.

      Let's just say, I've given up on helping him buy a new phone, and instead moved to helping destroy the old one.

      i definitely agree with the article on a few fronts.
      you have to at least future-proof your purchases... i definitely need a tablet/laptop, but wont be buying anything until about January (figure there'll be an onslaught leading up to christmas with Ivy Bridge processor based ultrabooks).

      i also need a new phone, but wont be buying anything until i can compare a new model iPhone with a Win8 phone...

      ... basically i'm looking at wanting a win8 slate ultrabook, with MAYBE a win8 phone, depending on how well it integrates with the PC OS.

      with that sort've cash layout - worth the wait? ...yes, i believe so!

      Pretty much my thoughts exactly. But I would agree that anything running Win7 should be put off 'til June (and if it's a tablet or has a touch screen, make sure the hardware supports 5+ touch points) as IIRC MS is doing a $13 upgrade to Win8 for Win7 devices purchased from June onwards.

        There is a huge difference to not buying a product that has been out for nine months and waiting for a new product that is three months away and waiting for a new product, finding it dissatisfying and waiting more.

    Just yesterday you told us why the iphone would not get a bigger screen now its almost certain it will???

      Also why would anyone be silly enough to buy a first generation TV from anyone (including Apple) when the first commercial releases always seem/are beta releases. At any rate, if I had the money I'd be after an OLED TV.

      I see you did not actually read the article.

        You see what you want to.

      They were saying the next iPhone wont be widescreen yesterday weren't they?

      Wasn't yesterdays article talking about screen resolution while this one is talking about the screens physical size?

        Yesterday's article was about the aspect ratio. And debunking the rumour on why the aspect ratio will not change.

        The main rumour going around is that the screen size is increasing.

      Yesterday's article was written by Jesus Diaz for Gizmodo, this article is written by Avram Piltch for LAPTOP MAGAZINE and republished here with permission.

      Different authors can have different opinions on upcoming devices.

    Um, from a interface perspective, there is nothing on the market like the Windows phones. If you're not looking for a dozen apps for every conceivable purpose, the Windows Phones are still good (and cheap) buys.

      Agreed. Almost everyone seems to ignore the price factor - there is simply no better value than a Nokia Lumia phone, regardless of your needs. I suppose it is a great compliment to Nokia that everyone compares the Lumia800 to phones that cost twice as much.

        lol.... "there is simply no better value than a Nokia Lumia phone, regardless of your needs" seriously??

        I recently got given a Lumia 800 as a work phone, it's ok, although it takes 2.5 hours to charge, in areas with bad reception it has run flat in about 10 hours with only 7 minutes talk time, minimal other usage, screen resolution is a bit low compared to the competition, camera is crap. Although BBs are dinosaurs these days, the work one I had was much better for what I needed, would last up to 5 days sitting idle but still pulling down email and reception was great. Lumia gets used for work calls if it isn't flat, iPhone gets used for everything else.

      Even if current WP7 handsets don't get updated to WP8, I somehow doubt they will not get any support (bug fixes etc.) at all. In any case, if the thing does what you want it to do now, I fail to see how it matters that it won't get an update which might allow it to do things that you don't want it to do...

      Same thing applies to iPhone, Android tablets etc. Why buy something in the hope that it'll satisfy your needs at some later date? The mind boggles...

      There are plenty of features missing from my windows phone that my three year old iPhone had.

      While I've had no problems with apps, I'll be a fairly sour consumer if I don't get WP8 on my 6 month old phone (by then) after experiencing the Apple yearly upgrade cycle.

      No native call forwarding is archaic, seriously, who even knows the telco codes these days? I also can't beleive outside of speech to text, how poor the speech functions are compared to my iPhone I've been instructing what music to play or asking the time for three years.

    Harvey Norman is selling ASUS A55A model at their stores and apparently its Ivy Bridge i7 notebooks. Can anyone here attest that it really is?

    http://www.harveynorman.com.au/asus-a55a-sx060v-laptop.html

    I love how people give Apple the credit for making the screens, they didn't invent that "retina" screen themselves.

    Also if Apple do release a TV it's going to be the biggest DRM POS ever with some kind of Samsung panel or other brand inside it. Great. I've had my PC hooked up to my Samsung TV for years playing all the media I want and probably a bajillion times cheaper.

    So are we getting the LG G2 Smart Tv in australia as well as access to google TV, the article was not clear?

    Should I hold off buying a computer??... quantum computing is just around the corner

    Android tablets are great! Just dont buy one from Australia. I got the new Galaxy Tablet 10.1 for $429 (all up $500) including postage from the US. Its great and much more practical than an ipad.

    re. getting 'trapped' in an iPhone contract... it's pretty easy to avoid this and still have an iPhone on a contract.

    1. Get iPhone on contract
    2. Call up your provider, ask to unlock your iPhone.
    3. Apple will send you instructions. Follow them, iTunes will tell you it's now unlocked.
    4. If you want a new iPhone, take out the SIM, sell the old one. Use that money to buy the new one.

    Easy! Unless I'm missing something?

      obviously you keep paying for your contract, while using it on your new phone, and obviously you keep paying off the one you sold. Otherwise, y'know, it'd kinda be theft.

      When you sell your old iPhone it will be much less when the rumours keep coming out that there is a new iPhone around the corner. By then most people would rather get the old phone but new from the store and hopefully with a discount. I see your point though it's just a little risky .
      I'd prefer to buy the phone outright and switch to any carrier whenever you like.

    No point holding out for the LG G2 smart tv as lg has stated they currently have no plans to release any of their google tvs in australia

    The best time to buy anything is when you need it. Simple.

    I'm in the market for up to 3 new TV's and a new PC (moving into a house) I like the Samsung Smart TV's and will likely go with those unless something better comes around. PC Ill prob build myself but not touching Apple. I like playing games on PC.

    That Asus 'Zenbook Prime' should just be called the Asus 'Air'. Why not steal the name along with the rest of the design....

    I don't have any beef with that though as the MacBook Air is a great Ultrabook, so having the equivalent hardware available as a windows machine is a win :)

    So, where are the Mackbook Air rumours? I'm considering getting one but wondering if the Pro refresh also means an Air refresh too but not heard anything of that.

    As if the Apple TV wouldn't cost a motza compared to your average TV, or is your telco going to sell it to you on contract? lol

    Personally waiting for the new MacBook pros. My mid 2010 one just crapped itself and I need something thats significantly more lighter , thinner, no ODD, has a dedicated graphics card and a SSD.

    Lets see if iPhone 5 comes out with oz compatible 4G, just like their latest iPad. Would make for an expensive ipod touch!!! ;>)

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