CNET Crave

CNET Australia Podcast

Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.

External Combustion

If it ain't broke, don't replace it

In this week's CNET Australia podcast, we talked about the reasons (or not) to upgrade one's phone. I was singled out for hanging onto my carbon-dateable iPhone 3GS, for longer than a child clings to their favourite plush toy.

Naturally, I thought I put forward some excellent reasons for my thriftiness, but it started a train of thought about the other tech objects in my life, and at what stage I would consider replacing them.

TV and home theatre

A GfK Retail and Technology report I saw earlier this week stated that "55-inch models occupied six of the top seven model ranking spots" in Australia, during the last quarter. This made me briefly consider the future of the four-year-old 32-inch HDTV taking centre stage in my living room, and whether it is time to migrate to something with more visual acreage. But, while 32 inches sounds pretty piddling, given that there's only a metre and a half — if that — between the couch and the TV set, it's not really an issue.

In reality, a larger TV would necessitate a larger home, something neither myself, nor my bank manager, is willing to countenance.

Having surveyed the latest crop of TVs (if not reviewed them), there are plenty of neat features that my current set doesn't have — but none that would convince me to splurge on a new TV. Catch-up TV and streaming media are features that are increasingly touted by television manufacturers, but those features can be had on any TV with a spare HDMI port.

Any number of devices (a PS3, Xbox 360, WDTV, Apple TV, Blu-ray player or laptop, to name but a few) can be used to access some of those streaming movie and TV services, as well as any DivX file store lying around the house.

Mobile phone

As I stated in the podcast, I do get pangs of technolust every time I spy a phone with a higher-resolution screen, but my trusty old iPhone 3GS still does what I need it to do: surf the web, read emails, play casual games, take notes, run Dropbox and store plenty of music.

Yes, it could be a bit more fleet of foot, but the price of an upgrade — another 24-month contract or at least AU$600 — feels too steep.


The Canon EOS 20D, which is my constant companion on any trip, be it business or pleasure, dates back to the year when Ban Ki-Moon became secretary-general of the United Nations (2006). It still shoots at a reasonable 5fps, but not even the most besotted fool (that's me, by the by) can see past its technical limitations.

The now-miniscule 1.8-inch LCD screen, springs to mind instantly, but it's the limited ISO range (1600 in regular mode, 3200 in extended) that's most limiting on a regular basis. Strangely, though, I've come to embrace these constraints — for instance, finding a unique (and safe) spot to place the camera, for unexpected bouts of night photography, is not only challenging, but also rewarding.

Indeed, the only thing I'm tempted to change about my camera is the glass that's mounted to it. As much as an L-series lens would dent my already meagre savings, if treated well, it could last through several cameras and, hopefully, until the grey hairs outnumber black on my noggin'.


This little opinion piece is being typed out on an 11-inch laptop, dating from 2010, and it still fits the purpose for which it was purchased; it's thin, it's light, it has a full-sized keyboard (important when one's living is the generation of words) and it can handle basic photo-editing and sorting tasks.

The wife has an almost identical laptop, but with a beefier processor and more memory, and, like the phone situation, there are occasional pangs of envy. Having football videos load a second quicker, though, isn't enough to justify the upgrade cost.


Even I may be tempted to upgrade a phone or a camera on a whim, but unless your surname is Tinkler, Rinehart or Forest, the car is a far more considered purchase, and change is usually spurred on by circumstance — a new addition to the family, spiralling repair costs or the end of a lease.

Unlike the categories listed above, my opinion, in this matter, is somewhat tainted by the fact that I have access to various review vehicles, which allows me to more easily live with my car's limitations — primarily, two seats and limited luggage space.

That said, my ride's tech spec is pretty rudimentary, and I have considered making changes with regard to the fairly ordinary-sounding Bose stereo, which is hooked up to a six-disc CD changer. To bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, with features like navigation, USB or iPod connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free, I could, with a bit of effort and cash, replace the entire stereo system.

With an unholy amalgam — consisting of a portable GPS, clip-on Bluetooth speaker and a third-party iPod connectivity kit, which plugs in to the stereo's external CD-changer port, not only has considerable cash been saved, but I've also retained the use of the steering wheel's stereo controls.


Having gone through my list and come up with no compelling reasons why I should upgrade, lest any of them fail or explode in my hands (except for, maybe, lenses for my camera), I challenge you, CNET Australia's dear readers, to go through your own tech laundry list and see whether you really need that bigger TV or that marginally quicker phone.

Let us know your conclusions in the comments section below.

Add Your Comment 13

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cebeckey posted a comment   

I currently have my mothers old laptop which has a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive instead of a CD drive and wont connect to the internet.
At some point i'll upgrade to something along the lines of a transformer prime but currently it does what I have it for well: watching movies in bed from an external.


SellYourCell Guy posted a comment   

I think you are off the mark on the cell phones. If you can sell your old cell phone (to and your old phone is reused by someone else that couldn't afford to buy it new then why not do it? Throwing your old phone away or stashing in a drawer is a waste but you can sell your cell phone and greatly reduce the cost of buying a new phone!


SampsK posted a reply   

Nice advertising there.


tapanahm posted a comment   

these all are excuses, uncle scrooge


MaryM2 posted a comment   

My old tube tv is over 10 years old, but I want to wait until it dies, which I fear it will never do. Curses JVC! My laptop is about 4 or 5 years old, I've replaced the battery, but fear of having to transfer everything makes it look really really good. I did get the Ipad 2 this year so I have something new and marvelous. The new Ipad doesn't worry me. I did replace my Canon last year, from 4 gigawatts or whatever you want to call them to 10 or 12. Good choice. I like to zoom in, I love to crop. My 3Gs phone? Can barely hold a full days charge. I seldom, if ever actually call anyone... I may replace it later this year, but why go 4 when it's going to be outdated soon? I may just replace it with another 3GS. My Bose, it is simple but excellent. My car? 2005 with 6 cd changer and an excellent stereo and excellent leather seats. Barely 60K miles. Why change? My next piece of equipment will likely be a watch, but since I always manage to bash it against the wall, why spend? Basically, I love all of my electronic stuff, I couldn't be happy without it, but change constantly? Too much hassle, too much money. Who knows, they might come up with something ELSE this year.


dualmegabyte posted a comment   
United States

Strugling to stay with my original Motorola Droid, I'm afraid I've added too many apps and the poor phone keeps crashing. The Motorola razr Maxx is very tempting but $300 plus probably another $100 in accessories is discouraging. Especially since the MAXX isn't running ICS yet. By the time it does I'll be drooling at the next release of phones. But I'm off contract and every day I wait means another two years before I can upgrade again. My low end Sony SLR is just fine. I just went and bought a 32" HDTV for $199 for my bedroom. My living room 32" is old as rock with 1 DVI input. If I decide to get a media streamer for the living room I have a port problem. I wonder if they make HDMI cable switch boxes? My 4 year old laptop is just fine, I'm not a gamer, and it runs photoshop well enough especially when attached to my external monitor (also 4 years old but works just fine and the screen size is fine). I'm completely happy with my 2012 PT Cruiser despite a few bumper scratches. But if I did win the lottery I admit i would buy a mustang the next day. So it's just a matter of how long I can hold off on a new phone and whether I want to watch Netflix on my TV. Otherwise I'm good. Oh but of course my 17 year old daughter is allready complaining about her iPhone 4s and laments the lack of a webcam on her laptop. Luckily she has a job so I'll let her make the upgrades if she wants them bad enough. Does she really need Skype? She allready uses 4000 text messages a month. Will she want two way video calling on her phone? I don't think even she would pay for that. She would have to keep her makeup on 24 hours a day!


BryantP posted a comment   

You are right for the most part, but there are two categories where I disagree. The laptop and the mobile phone. Laptops should be upgraded at LEAST every 3-4 years. As for your mobile upgrade every 2 years or at your leisure/necessity.

(This is not as important to most people, but for people like me who do a whole lot on their phones it is necessary once you go to 4G and Android you NEVER go back to ANY iPhone let alone a slow 3G).

The laptop is more necessary because once it is more than 4 years old there will be a lot of new software and other things which will not run on such old specs. Also if you compare hardware and processor speeds that were available 4 years ago and the stuff that is out today the speed difference is like comparing a bike to a Porsche.


dualmegabyte posted a reply   
United States

I'm not sure about the laptop cycle you suggest. I use photoshop, emai, web browsing, video streaming and it all works just fine. Not sure what new app I would want, not a gamer. I did have to upgrade to an external wireless network adapter so I could go to 802.11n dual band. It's a little clumsy velcroed to by screen cover. LOL But looks aren't worth the money for me. I do agree that a Android ICS 4G phone is an absolute necessity. Heck I use my phone more than my laptop and tv anyway.


djl2083 posted a comment   

Right with you Derek. I would still been rocking a Nokia 6210 Nav had it not totally died from an unfortunate fall just under 2 years ago. Now sporting a HTC Desire Z (and I must say I am glad I joined the smartphone brigade) and I don't see any point in upgrading. The improvements newer smartphones are offering (slightly lighter, slightly faster) aren't significant enough to really bother. My 2yr old Nikon D90, same thing, as well as my 4yr old Samsung 1080p LCD TV, no need. Most proud of my Onkyo home theatre receiver. 12 years on and still going strong, sounds great, Dolby Digital and DTS, all the inputs I need, why spend another $600 or more just to get HD sound and 7 or 9.1 surround sound?

If the upgrade is truly significant (VCR to DVD to Blu-ray, Cathode Ray TV to LCD/Plasma) then I'll buy, but otherwise it's really not worth the extra spend.


dualmegabyte posted a reply   
United States

I actually still like my old as the hills HD Cathode Ray TV. I got it when the first surge of HDTV's came out. I think the CRT's still beat out the new stuff for brightness and such and the 1080i is fine for these old eyes. LOL

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