Having stated the case last week regarding the challenges of thrifty tech-shopping, I sat back and looked at the whole picture again. I realized I had neglected one important element of the equation.
Thrift shopping is still shopping; “mindful” consumption is still consumption; and while there may be greater ethical value in buying used versus new, the very process puts one on a slippery slope. We have just come down off a major thrifting binge with a realization that for every one thing we bought that we needed, we probably got five we didn’t. Needless to say, we’ve got a bin full of regret to go alongside our yard-sale stash.
The first order of business, then, is to determine exactly what one needs and where one wants to go. After that comes the hard task of staying on course and on-task. Take music, for instance. If someone has managed to keep hold of their hundreds of LP records as well as a functional stereo system for all these years, they might be tempted to upgrade to a digital platform for portability’s sake. Fortunately, there is a low-cost solution which took only a brief internet search to uncover. Far better that than trying to find CD copies of everything, burn them to the hard drive, and so forth, which is what the poor schlub who had his music collection stolen has to do. Don’t ask me how I know that.
What about playback? Sure, PCs and laptops are inexpensive and provide a good “home base” for a digital music collection. Add a powered subwoofer and a pair of satellite speakers, both ubiquitous in the thrifts at less than ten dollars, and a compact home system is born. Try jogging with one, though; not fun at all. While I found an 8GB Microsoft Zune for $6 at the nearby Salvation Army store (hint: ALWAYS look in the display case!), good quality portables are still scarce in thrift shops, leading the cheapskate buyer out into the uncharted waters of Craigslist. I thought I did well to score an 8GB iPod Nano (4th generation) for $65, after a truly interesting excursion. (Hint: when showing used tech to sell, make sure the thing’s fully charged first. Really smooths the transaction along.) Considering that I’m now a contented Mac user, it was a perfect fit, and I’m quite happy with it.
And yet…I could have done better, and ultimately did. I decided to upgrade my cheap prepaid cell phone to one that didn’t actually make me want to throw it against a wall, and settled on the LG 500G model. Lo and behold, this bottom-dweller actually has a slot for a micro-SD card, meaning up to 4GB of storage for, among other things, music. Lots and lots of music. I found a card online for $4, and when I connected the little black box to the big silver box with the skinny black wire, the bubbles moved through the tubes and there was music on my phone!! Even better, though, is the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the top of the LG, allowing it to play through just about anything, like the sweet little radio with auxiliary input I scored for $2, roughly 10 percent of its retail value:
And there was much rejoicing.
I must mention one other thing I’ve seen populating the thrifts lately: the iPod dock. Priced anywhere from $5 to $20, they are fast becoming the clock-radios of our time; some even are clock-radios too. If that’s the case, can the players themselves be far behind? We shall see.