When you’re buying something, check the alternatives to make the best choice.
Note: For a lot of items, this might mean more than just shopping around for the best price.
Here’s a Good Example…
An example: I love music. I have a pretty clever system called Sonos which I’m quite fond of. Sonos is quite expensive compared to other music systems (though I reckon it’s worth every penny – “like the Apple Mac of the music world” – plus it’s come down in price a lot since I bought mine about 6 or 7 years ago).
When my Sonos controller (the handheld device for playing & controlling the music) met with a fatal accident, I had to buy a new one because I can’t live without my music or my Sonos.
However, instead of buying a new Sonos controller, I had the idea to buy an iPod Touch as I suspected that the free controller software program available for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) might work well on the iPod’s touch screen and be as good as the Sonos controller itself. The reason for this of course, was that the iPod Touch was significantly cheaper than the Sonos controller (at the time I think it was something like £140 plays £250).
What I hadn’t bargained for is 1) using the iPod touch as the controller for Sonos is even better than using the Sonos controller as it’s a great interface, easy to use, responsive and much easier to carry around than the Sonos device (which is a great tip for any Sonos users) and 2) The iPod touch (which I wouldn’t have bought otherwise) is awesome. It is such a useful device.
So I saved a lot of money buying an iPod touch which does the job just as well as the Sonos device (rather than trying to find the best price for the Sonos controller which wouldn’t have gotten me very far). I really only bought the iPod to use as a controller for my music but now use it for all kinds of other applications too (e.g. TV guide, quick check of my emails, handy calculator, you name it…).
I actually wrote this article quite a long time ago for a previous incarnation of this site. Since I wrote it, Sonos seem to have embraced the same idea of people using their iPod touches as controllers because looking at their website they have now released their own iPod touch/iPhone cradle.
Looking at the alternatives may require a little ‘out of the box’ thinking as in this example.
It may just need you to ask yourself whether what you were thinking about is really what you need, or is it something different.
Quite often we are initially attracted by a good bit of marketing, our own pre-conceived ideas about a certain product or brand, or just the need to replace something we’ve always known. Looking at the alternatives can be a great way of making sure you’re making the right choice, and often result in saving a lot of money in the process.
Can you think of any similar examples?