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Don’t wait. How to conquer analysis paralysis on tech purchases

I received a text from a friend today, as I do on most Black Fridays, asking for some advice before making a major tech purchase. He had pulled the trigger on an 83-inch LG C1 OLED from Best Buy, only to read an article about upcoming “micro lens” technology, panic, and cancel the order. Sure it’s a killer TV that we gave 4.5 out of 5 stars when we reviewed it in April. But wouldn’t it be outdated soon?

Yup. And he should buy it anyway.

The LG C1 OLED TV in a living room displaying a purple tree.

As someone who battles analysis paralysis on everything from breakfast selections (“Poppy seed or sesame?!”) to airplane seats (“Window or aisle?!”), I’m intimately familiar with the excruciating mental calculus of endlessly comparing two inane choices to my own detriment. But after 14 years covering consumer technology, I think I have enough perspective in this particular arena to see my way past that game: There is always something better around the corner, and you should almost always just buy the thing that makes the most sense today.

Here’s why.

You can’t win this game

Say our friend, call him Kevin, folds his arms and decides to wait this one out. And say we see LG announce this exact technology at CES 2023, which wouldn’t even surprise me. He’ll need to wait more than a month to hear the news, and then likely another five months or so before those TVs go on sale.

When they do, they’ll sell for full price. On the other hand, this year’s 83-inch LG C1 OLED was originally $4,500, compared to today’s $3,000 Black Friday price. In May, he’ll feel like a sucker for waiting and paying sticker. Or he’ll wait another six months for the Black Friday 2023 sale … at which point another new “revolutionary” technology will be around the corner. Rinse and repeat.

Technology is a treadmill that there’s never a right time to step on. You just have to start walking.

Take it from an idiot

I took my own advice on this in August, when I managed to smash the lens on my iPhone 13 Pro and jump into a lake with it the same day. It turns out that whole “waterproof” feature doesn’t really work when you’ve punched a hole in the phone. Tripling down on my good decisions, I decided to “repair” the water damage myself by disassembling the phone, severing the ribbon cable on the battery, and rendering the phone completely inoperable. Don’t worry, this story eventually makes me look smart.

As I saw it, I had two choices: Spend $500 for a replacement phone from Apple, or pull some strings, sneak a loaner from our Mobile editor, bide my time, and wait for the inevitable iPhone 14 Pro in September. The geek in me wanted to wait for something better. The pragmatist in me just needed a working phone.

In the end, I hung my head, walked into the Apple store with a soggy iPhone 13 Pro, and walked out with a working iPhone 13 Pro for $500. A month later, I watched the iPhone 14 Pro come out and didn’t feel even a tinge of regret.

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro seen from the back.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Even if I’d waited, the iPhone 14 Pro would’ve cost me $1,000. And for what, emergency satellite messaging? Maybe I’ll regret this decision when I find myself wandering the woods alone with a broken leg, shaking my fist in vain at the sky, but for now, I’m just fine with my “outdated” iPhone 13 Pro. My father-in-law just upgraded to the iPhone 14, and I enjoy watching him gloat a little.

If you ask around to enough tech journalists, you’ll find plenty of us like this; clinging to wheezy old laptops, phones with taped-up screens, and TVs that still flaunt the curved trend of 2014. Instead of making us lust for the latest and greatest, sometimes having access to every new gadget as it comes out makes you realize that today’s “best” will always become outdated. And good enough is good enough.

So be smart! Read our guides to the best laptops, phones, and TVs. Find a good Black Friday deal on something you need.

Then just pull the trigger. Enjoy your new toy. There will eventually be a better one, and you’ll be just fine.

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