Is IT becoming too disposable?

By reeset / On / In General Computing

This is something that came up when I was expanding my thoughts from one of my “non-lita tech trends” earlier this morning and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m finding it weighing on my mind.  I’m wondering if we are making our hardware too disposable in the name of convenience.  This comes from my conversations about low budget, ultra portable systems to thinking about Apple’s new Mac Book Air — a computer that comes without a replaceable battery and limited upgradability.  I’ll admit, I’m a little bit of a pack rat.  I’ve either kept or found homes for every computer I’ve ever owned.  In fact, it was only recently that I upgraded our 8 year old desktop at home to something newer and zipper (relegating the old machine to file server status).  When things break — I like to fix them.  When things slow down — I take them apart and upgrade the components.  I do this for a number of reasons — one being that I do like to encourage an environmentally friendly lifestyle (more or less).  I drive very little, we recycle fanatically, try to buy local — but I’m having a hard time rectifying this lifestyle with the gadgets that I’ve come to know and love.  One of the problems, as I’m seeing it, is that many of these low budget machines (or in the Mac Air’s case — premium priced machines) are making hardware much more throw away that it ever was before.  If I have a $200 desktop (or notebook for that matter) and something breaks — do I fix it?  If its a year old — probably not since the cost to fix it will likely be close to the cost to replace it.  So, the computer is landfill’d (as most computers are even though most companies offer recycling programs) and the process repeats.  Even Apple’s Mac Air seems to be built to encourage a rapid replacement cycle.  Low expandability, no battery replacement, under powered processor — while sleek and stylish I wonder if these too won’t become high end disposable products. 

In a time when green computer seems to be gaining traction everywhere, the current disposable PC trend seems to fly in its face.  And I’m no better in this regard.  I too would like an ultra-portable device and am in the group looking for something on the higher end scale (I want something that will perform better than a PDA) and there’s the dilemma.  This class of machines simply is disposable by default due to the nature of the beast.  Keep size down, keep price down — and performance suffers.  When performance suffers — performance lust sets in and the cycle repeats.  A great cycle for investors, maybe, but not for those wanting live a little greener.

Anyway, random thoughts for a Thursday,

–TR

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