Is Buying Old Tech a Bargain or a Bad Idea?

By Nevin Buconjic
February 8, 2010

This weekend, on a whim, I decided to see if I could find a deal on HD-DVDs on eBay. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! For those of you who aren’t familiar with HD-DVD – I recommend you read my previous article entitled (March 2007). But as a quick synopsis, HD-DVD was another format of high definition that lost to Blu-ray and is now for all intents and purposes, dead.

As you might recall, I was a fan of HD-DVD for a lot of reasons, not the least being cost – they were simply the same quality to Blu-ray but significantly cheaper. HD-DVDs out of the box had internet interactivity, something Blu-ray would not have for a while. Because it was very similar technology to DVD, you could even buy movies with HD on one side and a regular DVD on the other – something impossible for Blu-ray. But I digress. Blu-ray won the war in March 2008 and HD-DVD was relegated to the junk heap. Or was it?

I still have my HD-DVD player for my Xbox 360 and have about 10 or so movies. So I decided to take a look on eBay to see what kind of deals there were for any HD-DVDs still kicking around. They are HD movies after all –the same quality as Blu-ray or HD movies you download from various online services like Netflix.

I was surprised to find not only individual movies selling for $1, but different bundles as well – in lots of 10, 20, 35, 52 and even 77! These are brand new, sealed movies being cleared out at incredible prices! So I decided to bid on a package of 77 – including movies such as 40-Year Virgin, 300, Season 1 of Heroes, and Battle Star Galactica, The Skeleton Key, Transformers and 71 other titles! I will admit, about half of the movies I would never even consider buying on their own, but what the hell – for a buck or two a movie, wouldn’t it be worth it?

So I put in a bid, and even stayed up until 2AM to see the results. I won, and for about a $1 each! There are still plenty of bundles for sale on eBay.

But what about those of you who can’t even watch HD-DVDs because you never bought a player way back when? There are still some options. By far the cheapest is still the Xbox 360 add-on player, if you own the Xbox already. I found these on eBay for $40-60 (although the bids start much lower). There are also dedicated HD-DVD players from Toshiba which at the time were getting great reviews – not only as HD players, but upscaling DVD players as well. These players, I was very surprised to see, were selling for much higher! Probably averaging $60-90, and I saw one go for over $150! I guess there is still some demand out there. But if you are patient you can still find a better
deal.

So do I recommend you go out and purchase a dead technology? Well, not exactly…but if you can get a great deal on a player, I know you can get a steal on the HD-DVDs. So I’ll leave it up to you. But I know that I will enjoy watching HD versions of many of the 77 movies I have won, for a long time to come!

What do you think?

Growing Up Digital

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine
(Originally published October 2009) 

Cell phones, iPods, laptops, digital cameras…we are living in the digital age. The age of instant gratification. Hear a song on the radio and like it? Just download it from iTunes or other services right to your cell phone. Don’t feel like driving to Blockbuster to rent a movie? Just order it on-demand from your cable company, or download it to your Xbox, or PC from Amazon.com, iTunes or Netflix. Some even get it for free through peer-to-peer torrents (but this is the illegal way to get it).

Living with such convenience and easy access to digital content has changed our behaviour, created new business models (and crushed old ones), and opened up new ways to communicate with anyone around the world.

So with this in mind, the idea for this article came to me the other day when visiting the family cottage up north. No cell phone coverage meant no texting, email or Internet access on my iPhone. In other words, no access to this endless supply of content and definitely no contact with the civilized world (there is no electricity or telephone service at the cottage).

Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of not being able to check Facebook, upload photos, or see what my friends were up to. But is this really a bad thing? It made me think about what it was like before the Internet and other technology so common today.

As a 30-something “young” professional, I still remember when the web and email were shiny and new – still at University (for my first degree) I remember being provided an email address, and logging into the Internet (world wide web to be exact – the Internet is just the network behind it) in the computer lab to see what this was all about. Not very impressive stuff in the mid-90’s and I don’t think anyone realized how far we would come in such a short time.

But kids and teens today take the Internet, email, texting, digital music and YouTube videos for granted. They have grown up in the digital age, and it is truly a part of their being.

If the thought of having no cell phone or Internet access for a few days unnerved me, I could just imagine what it would mean to today’s youth.

My niece is part of “Generation Z” or the “iGeneration” (born mid-90s – 2000s), and just starting high school this fall. I know that she has embraced technology. She’s had a digital camera since she was seven or eight, is attached to her iPod, got a laptop this year, and I think she has already had more cell phones than me! When she’s over for dinner, it’s hard to say a few words without her phone buzzing away with a new text message. It annoys my parents to no end, but the thing is I get it.

I get that kids today are growing up with instant access to information, and instant communication through texting, instant messaging and Facebooking. I envy them in a way, but I sometimes wonder if all this technology makes things too easy, makes us too connected and makes our relationships too impersonal.

Why call someone when we can just text? Why ask someone on a date in person when you can send them a message on Facebook? Why research a topic at the library for a school essay when we can just Google it?

I remember writing papers in high school using books and encyclopaedias. Now today most kids will just look it up on the Internet. With all that information at their fingertips is it any wonder that plagiarism is on the rise in high schools, colleges and universities?Probably not all of it is intentional – they just don’t know any better. According to a New York Times study, most students don’t consider “copy and pasting” from Internet sources, without proper citation, as cheating.

Our world is changing and the older generations are just trying to keep up. If I wasn’t such a tech junkie I might be in the same boat. We’ve come a long way since my first Atari computer, Sony Walkman, and camera with actual film!

Today we can shop, communicate, download movies and songs, share photos and learn about almost any topic on the Internet. We can hold tens of thousands of songs in our pocket. We can watch TV on our cell phones, and download movies right to our smartphones.

Technology is both fascinating, and life altering. Good and bad. Today’s kids are the first generation where technology is widely used and accepted by both the parents and kids. Nothing will stop the stampede of technological progress, our evolving way of life. Let’s just hope we don’t get too caught up in it, and lose sight of the important things in life – our relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Because technology still can’t replace that.

So looking back now at my weekend at the cottage. Being disconnected from the outside world, and spending quality time with the family wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Sometimes it’s a good thing to drop the techno gadgets and get back to basics for a while – if anything just to clear your head and relax.

I’ll try to remember that next time.

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