Coffee break – what’s your device life expectancy?


Coffee_man_4I was hoping to make it to the office by 8 this morning but traffic was a bit heavy. I’m sitting in Starbucks near the Plymouth Meeting mall today; a new ‘bucks for me. Both the WiFi and the java are flowing freely as I keep getting stopped by people asking what this device is. Of course, since this is my mobile office setting, I have the Samsung Q1P and Bluetooth keyboard. I have a set stock of lines that introduce folks to Samantha, the Q1P, and I just realized that I always share how long I’ve been using this class of device. People ask "what’s that amazing new device you have there?" and of course, it’s not that "new" to me. This is about the 15th month I’ve been using this "new" device. ;)

That length of time hit me all of a sudden today and got me thinking about the life-expectancy of mobile devices. Not how long before it breaks, but how long will it still meet your needs before you upgrade or trade? Are you on the "Matt Miller" plan, i.e.: if you get three weeks from a device, it’s all good? :) If you get six months or a year, is that acceptable? Are you still toting a Handspring Visor? Let me know in the comments…I shoot for a year in most cases, but of course, it depends on the device as well…


Dave Watts

I’ve been using my Vaio UX90 for about a year. I plan to upgrade to a slightly more powerful UX this month.

In the UMPC space, since specs are so anemic to begin with, I seem to need to upgrade more often. Other than that, though, I’d simply keep using what I have.

I have been using my phone (Samsung SCH-i730) for over two years, and have no plans to switch any time soon. I haven’t found anything else that’s significantly better.

Dave Beauvais

Before I got my XV6700, the longest time I used a single handheld device was approximately a year. Something new came out and I managed to justify to myself replacing a perfectly good device with a new device. eBay was my friend. Now with the XV6700, I really have no desire to change to something else. That may change when Verizon releases their version of the Mogul, but we’ll see when that time comes.

For notebooks, my Latitude D610 with 2 GB RAM and a 100 GB 7200 RPM drive flies with Vista. I am *really* lusting after a Tablet PC, especially after using a spare Tablet from work for about a month, but am forcing myself to wait a bit longer.

It basically comes down to whether or not I can justify the expense to myself while saving to buy my first house. The answer is usually that what I already have does what I need and does it very well.

Robert Kawaratani

I still use my HP200lx as a calculator, etc. at my desk. Lotus 123 on the HP200lx easily outguns pocket excel and
the keyboard is certainly easier to use than my current Windows Mobile phone’s keyboard.

My Sony Clies (3 of them) were true to the Sony timer and lasted 1 year and 2 months each before breaking (well, I dropped one). I’m at 11 months on my Wzero3 ES (WM5.0 phone) and my wife is not about to approve a new phone. I just replaced my G4 Power Mac after 4 and half years of service. The disk drive broke (replaced under extended warantee) and my wife is using it. Still runs acceptably for moderate duty although it poops out with some heavier programs. It was replaced with a MacBook (not pro) which I hope will serve at least three years.

Steve Simmons

I usually get three years, or perhaps a little more, out of laptops, but up until now they have been provided by the company I work for and I’ve always felt that they are a little frugal. I just took delivery today of an X61 tablet and since I’m paying for it myself I’ll expect 3 years from it although I may find that I’m more frugal than the comapny I work for.

Steve Simmons

I usually get three years, or perhaps a little more, out of laptops, but up until now they have been provided by the company I work for and I’ve always felt that they are a little frugal. I just took delivery today of an X61 tablet and since I’m paying for it myself I’ll expect 3 years from it although I may find that I’m more frugal than the comapny I work for.

Anton P. Nym

I insist upon at least 3 years out of a device. Hey, I’m not rich enough to change gadgets like I change socks… I can only manage maybe one major acquisition a year.

I don’t buy often, and when I do buy, I try to buy quality (and pay a premium, I guess) so I can still get away with a 4-year-old desktop, 5-year-old digital camera, 3-year-old HDTV, etc.

I won’t be replacing my UMPC until 2010, unless (fingers crossed to avert omens) it poops out on me and completely ruins my plans.

— Steve

Gert Van Gool

I also say that I’ll do 2-3 years with my laptop. But at the moment it’s more like 1.5 years. That makes my Portege M400 due in about 2 months.

For PDA I’m running around with a HP hx4700 for 2 years and it’s still running fine. A cellphone (nothing fancy) about 2 years, but I’m looking to replace my current cellphone and PDA with a new smart phone (maybe Nokia N95)


as for umpc my vgn u 750 is close to a year and going strong, I really do not see a need to change with what we have on the market. I really like the screen size and the way it handles so I will stick to it for a while, would like more hard disk space since it has only 60g but then it still works. The phone is a kyo 7135 and has taken a beating but still works and it is falling apart but will hold to it until something better comes along. I also use a handera and it still is better than anything around since i get to use the card to handle database. I have looked for a replacement for these things and really there has not been a thing that would make change so I guess I will keep these for a longer time


More should be done in the OS to make it easier to move apps/data to a new device. It’s often weeks before a device is as usable as the last one (PCs as well as mobile devices).

Jamie Poster

You know, it’s funny that you brought this up, Kevin. I was just thinking about how committed you are (and have been for quite some time) to the Q1 line. Seriously, I had a moment this weekend when I pondered….”if only I could use any of my gadgets as long and effectively as Kevin has used the Q1.” I started wondering if maybe it was a character trait — you find something great and stick with it. Or, if maybe it’s all about your usage needs and the Q1 actually being a perfect fit for you. If that’s the case, I’m extremely jealous!

My gadget shelf-life is similar to Mat Millers; like Dan, I’ve got the Goldilocks complex. Yesterday is a good case in point. I was leaving the house for a quick trip and I felt like I needed to have a PC with me but nothing seemed right. The x61 was too big, my Q1 was too small (screen-wise) and actually too heavy (with the case, battery, etc). So, I sighed and just resigned myself to relying solely on my Cingular 8525 (btw, I have had all of the above for under 6 months). :)

Thanks for raising this interesting question. The responses are fascinating!

Jose R. Ortiz

Depends really. I am sure most of the devices I’ve had over the years could have met my needs longer than the time that I actually used them, but it’s hard to stick with one device for more the 8-12 months simply because of all the new gadgets that come out. The longest I’ve kept a device in regular use has been my VAIO desktop which I’ve had for almost 2.5 years and that’s only because I crammed it with the latest at the time. I’ve upgraded the RAM and hard drive space over the years but that’s it. I’ve had a Motion LE1600 for under a year and am already looking to upgrade to either a Stylistic 5112 or TK i440D. And I’ve had my HTC Excalibur for 5 months and am almost positive I will replace it with the Kaiser when it comes out. Too much good stuff out there…


For UMPC’s, it can go either way. Because the speed of the devices hasn’t changed much, proven to run Vista ok, and I’m grown used to this performance, UMPC’s can last years until it dies. Sadly, the processors aren’t getting any faster lately.
But then again, they are so cheap, you can go through them every 6 months/year.
With laptops, I expect a significant gain in speed, so I’d say around 2 years.
For desktops, if you pimped it out, should last 3-4 years unless you’re a serious gamer.
So I’m due for a new UMPC soon. My year anniversary with the Q1 is this month. Think I bought it a week before I made this post.
Hopefully I’ll get a new work laptop since the 2 year mark is coming up and convince them to get me a Tablet PC instead. :)


taxman wrote– “if I find another family member “needs” a “new” computer I pass my “existing” device to them and get the NEW computer for ME.”

Lets hear it for hand-me-downs… when you are the one doing the handing.


I currently find that a mobile device should last around 2-3 years. I had a dell Axim for around 3 years before upgrading to a HTC phone (M500 from Orange). That only lasted a year though as i found the device a pain to use. recently got given a HTC PU10 and as I mainly type on it i’ve found the miniture keyboard a fantastic asset for quick notes/texts/emails and hope it will last around 2-3 years.

I’m planning on replacing my laptop with a UMPC when they sort the battery life issue but i’ve had it for about 1 year now and i feel a little cheated because it hasn’t lasted the 2-3 years i planned.

So to summerise, i can happily spend my hard earned cash on a new device every 2-3 years. :)

Tax Man

I try for a year and I just made it with the Q1 so I’m in overtime. Sometimes I only go about 6 months – particularly with Mac Notebooks – if I find another family member “needs” a “new” computer I pass my “existing” device to them and get the NEW computer for ME. Mwaa Haa Haa!


My laptops last about a year and a half (up to my third one now), though my consumption of pda’s are Miller-esque, though I still try to use them all in some capacity. Fortunately for me, I tend to stick to the free phone that I get with my plan, and update only when my plan is due – I’ve contemplated getting a nice phone/smartphone, but I tend to trash my cell phones, so I’d rather not.


Lately it is the Matt Miller plan…

or is it the “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” Plan…

always looking for the one that will finally be “just right”.

If we’re not careful there will be a new mental health diagnostic category for such behavior….

Comments are closed.