I’ve been thinking about updating a bunch of my electronics lately. I recently did it with my Switch in an effort to have a better experience playing games online and using the console in handheld mode, and my only regret is now I have to sort through the feelings that come up every time I think about giving it to one of my friends who doesn’t have one because my old Switch was my constant companion and frequently the sole source of comfort during the last few pandemic years. Plus, you know, all the fun I had with it before then, too. The drastic improvement in my user experience has inspired me to consider upgrading some of the other pieces of technology that are older than my Switch and far more worn, such as my TV, my stereo sytem, and my computer. I mean, I’m not particularly interestied in a smart TV and I never really felt the need for 4K quality, but then I got an OLED switch and I feel like I finally get why people are leaving their crappy old LCD TVs behind. Plus, most of my electronics were bought on a “Tax Refund” level budget, something I could only muster once a year and now I can actually budget ahead of time, set money aside, and save up for something I want in a timeframe measured by months instead of years. Suddenly, replacing my entire computer or just my monitors feels like a reasonable thing to consider.
One of the other reasons I’ve hesitated to replace any of my eletronics is because all my existing electronics still work. It feels wasteful to buy a new TV when all of the TVs I’ve ever owned still work just fine and are still somewhere in my apartment. I’ve worked in IT, software, and then software/hardware for thirteen of my thrity-one years, and seeing the giant bins of waste electronics, many of which still work, always made me sad. I get that, for most companies, it is cheaper to pay a third party to take this stuff away for recycling than it is for them to pay an employee to go through and actually check for stuff that still works or can be made to work with a bit of effort, but it still feels so incredibly wasteful. Not everything in that bin is going to be recycled. A lot of it is going to get thrown away. The idea of knowingly participating in that system by throwing out one or more TVs I know work just fine makes me feel more uncomfortable than the thought of spending a few hundred dollars on a new TV. Which says a lot since actually spending a few hundred dollars (even though I can now afford to) on something that isn’t strictly necessary is enough to make me an anxious wreck for a few days.
It just feels so wasteful to take a TV that works perfectly fine (even if the quality is now noticeably worse than most other TVs I’ve seen lately) and relegate it to the junk heap just because new modern TVs are so much better and not that expensive to buy. It still works and it’s current level of quality doesn’t really detract my enjoyment of a game or movie, so why replace it? Which is the same question I’ve been asking myself as i think about replacing my computer. I thought about upgrading it initially, which was a much easier concept to sell myself, but it quickly became clear that the six-year-old components of my PC weren’t really compatible with any of the newer stuff and the older stuff they are compatible with is not much better than what’s currently in my PC anyway. The lone exception is the graphics card, but my old 970 hasn’t passed below the minimum requirements for most games yet so it’s not like i’m being held back from anything I want to play. The only reason I’m even considering this at all is because I’ve been thinking about playing Cyberpunk 2077 ever since I finished watching Cyberunk: Edgerunner a couple weeks ago and my PC is barely past the minimum requirements. Which means I could run the game, but it might still be a difficult experience even after all the improvements and fixes since the game released.
I probably won’t replace my stereo, though. I bought an older, less-smart model for a reason and while I’ve changed my mind about bluetooth connectivity being something I might want, I take comfort knowing that I picked a workhorse model that’ll keep working for decades to come and that all I really need if I want to get more out of my system is more speakers. My current speakers are still good, but it was always supposed to be a surround sound system. The tax return I used to buy it wouldn’t cover the rear speakers on top of everything else, so I initially planned to buy those later. Which never wound up being a priority what with everything else I wanted to get with my tax returns since the current setup works just fine, especially nowadays when I don’t really want that much bass or high volume. I mean, most of my Fire Emblem play recently is done with the video game silenced so I can hear whatever podcast I’m listening to. I’m barely using the speakers when I play video games nowadays, thanks to my preference for podcast audio over old familiar game music or voice lines. Plus I don’t really know where I’d put them on account of my massive couch and weirdly oblong living room.
Honestly, buying any new stuff right now is probably a bad idea for a lot of reasons. I want to move after my lease ends, if not sooner, and buying more stuff is just going to make that more difficult. Plus, I’d like to buy a house some day, or pay off all my student loans, and the five to ten hundred dollars I’d spend on a new TV, or few thousand that would be involved in modernizing all of my still-functioning electronics, is not an insignificant amount. Better to use the money in a way that benefits me more in the long term. It’s not like I watch enough movies or play enough hyper realistic video games to make it worth spending all my money on new electronics. Better to save all that money for whatever comes after the Switch in a few years, new Nintendo games, and the occasional PC title I can play at graphics that my eyes are too bad to tell apart from the highest possible quality. And, you know, going on fun trips in the spring and my friends’ wedding a couple months later. Lots of stuff to spend my money on that is more emotionally enriching or long-term beneficial than a bunch of new consumer electronics.