Although I enjoy computers and gadgets I seldom buy the latest cutting edge computer parts, cell phones, MP3 players and most other gadgets. One pays a hefty premium to have the latest and greatest gadgets. Ask anyone who stood in line to buy an Apple iPhone the first day it was available if they felt a little ripped off when the price was dropped $200 a short time later. Such items command such a premium when first released that it’s usually wise to hold off till the 2nd generation arrives and the kinks are worked out.
For electronic gadgets, my rule is thumb is to purchase one generation removed from the very latest models. I’ve made a few exceptions, but that rule has served me quite well over the years. There are a few exceptions such as soundcards and the monitor I mention below, but it’s certainly true for the top of line computer chips, video cards and phones.
But there are a few items I’m willing to pay top dollar for even when they cost two or three times as much as other brands I could buy. Here are a few of them items:
Dress Shoes – I hate poorly made shoes. I’d rather have two pairs of great quality shoes than a closet full of shoes from Payless. I started buying casual and dress shoes made by Ecco about ten years ago and they are simply amazing. I was hooked the first time I tried on a pair. They are so comfortable and so well-made that I consider them a bargain at $150-$250/pair. I’ve also had good luck with Timberland, Doc Martin and Cole Haan. But none are as comfortable as my Ecco. I always keep a black and burgundy pair in my closet and they last for years if treated properly.
Ecco Berlin Plain Toe Tie
Wallets – I’ve purchased a number of less expense wallets and they fell apart after just a few months. The last thing I want are credit cards or my driver’s license falling out of an old grungy, beat up wallet. My current wallet is one that I bought for Kim about eight years ago at Nordstrom but that I inherited when I bought her a matching Coach wallet to go with her purse. The wallet is made by Ghurka and cost $150 which still seems like a lot of money to spend on a very simple man’s wallet. But I use it everyday and it gets better with age. Not a single stitch has come loose and I’ll buy another one exactly like it if it ever wears out.
Ghurka Men’s International Wallet
Laptop/Diaper Bag– Another item I use everyday and don’t mind spending extra for is a good laptop bag. This is where I keep my work files, my iPod, wallet, umbrella and laptop. About ten years ago I purchased a travel bag from Andiamo for $350 that traveled with me around the world. I beat the crap out of that bag, and took advantage of its lifetime warranty a few times until the zipper gave out and the store told me it couldn’t be fixed. Luckily they gave me a sizeable store credit which I used to purchase a smaller Tumi laptop bag last summer that I blogged about here. I hope it holds up as well as my Andiamo did. Cost: $250.
Tumi FXT Ballistic Business Brief
Kim carries around a diaper bag we bought from Timbuk2 and a purse from Coach. We’ve loved the Timbuk2 bag so far and we pack that sucker to the brim everyday. It’s a bag that looks better the more you bang it around.
Timbuk2 Original Cargo Tote
Strollers – We bought a cheapo Graco stroller from Target when our first baby arrived and it fell apart after about a year. The wheels tore apart and the folding mechanism would constantly jam. We probably got our money’s worth but we decided to spend a bit more on our last two strollers. We recently bought a single Peg Perego stroller from Albee Baby that we like although we haven’t used it much yet. But it’s lightweight and very well made so I’m sure we’ll use it a lot. Peg Perego strollers start in the low $200s.
Peg Perego Pliko P3 Classico
Nearly four years ago we purchased a Maclaren twin stroller from Albee Baby that’s become one of our favorite kids items. Our three oldest children have been pushed around in that stroller for miles and miles. I never thought we’d get so much use out of a twin stroller but this Maclaren is so awesome we look for opportunities to use it. If you check the Albee Baby website you can find the twin for under $400. That’s a lot of money for a stroller but I believe it’s been well worth it.
Maclaren Twin Techno Stroller
Computer Monitors – I sit at a computer for over 12 hours most days and my eyes strain unless I’m looking at a very clear, good quality LCD monitor. In fact, I’m much more productive with two monitors that I can’t imagine going back to even a larger single monitor. I’ve used monitors from Samsung, Dell, and Viewsonic and they aren’t bad. But none are in the same ballpark as my two NEC Multisync 90GX monitors. The NECs cost more than the others but are so much better I consider them a bargain given their quality. The prices and models change often but expect to pay a 50-60% premium over a similar sized Dell monitor.
NEC 90GX2 Pro LCD Monitor
Headphones – I was hesitant to list this one because I’ve already written about them so much. But don’t spend $300 on an iPod and then expect your music to sound good on the freebie white headphones. Spend $60 and pickup a pair of Sennheiser PX100s and you’ll be blown away at how much better your music sounds. I bought a pair of the black models but they also have white for those who must maintain their hip iPod style. They also fold up and come with a sweet case.
Sennheiser PX100 Portable Headphones
When I’m at my computer, I listen to my music on a Soundblaster X-Fi soundcard output to a pair of Grado SR80 headphones. The X-Fi will take most of the digital sound processing off your CPU giving you excellent sound quality without taxing your system. You can’t do better than a pair of Grado SR80 ($100) without spending two or three times as much. They are an amazing value and have become a cult favorite of the audio enthusiasts.
Grado SR80 Headphones
Socks and Ties – I’ve found that it doesn’t pay to buy cheap ties and socks. I’ll buy less expensive brands of pants and even shirts but not socks or ties. I’ll usually hit the Ralph Lauren Polo outlet for socks and wait for the Nordstrom Men’s sale right after Christmas to pickup a few Robert Talbott ties that run about $50 on sale.
Robert Talbott Regimental Stripe Tie