How Do You Gear Up?


gadgetsI’m not gonna lie, a big reason that I like my current freelance tech blogging gig is the gear. But even if I wasn’t in this particular line of work, I’d still take an unnatural amount of interest in outfitting my office or workspace, regardless of whether it happens to be in my home or not. Computers, gadgets, office supplies, office furniture — these are the things that get me truly excited about doing my job, from the lowliest stapler to the most extravagantly outfitted desktop computer.

While just acquiring and setting up new gear is cause enough for celebration, better still is getting great deals on new work-related stuff. For instance, re-purposing an old SLR camera bag as the perfect clandestine portable HDD/DVD-RW/cable tote, or having Best Buy (s bby) match the deep discount a much smaller competitor is offering on a 16GB SDHC card.

Gear-swapping via Craigslist or with friends and colleagues is another favorite pastime of mine. Through straight-up trades, I acquired my first film SLR camera (a Canon Rebel that’s still in great shape), a flatbed scanner with a special film/slide slot in the lid for archiving my parents’ extensive collection, and a Palm T|X (s palm) that for a long time served as my go-to mobile device.

I’m curious about the hardware-sourcing habits of other similarly positioned freelancers. Do folks normally buy new, as might be expected from those who largely write about the cutting edge of remote working trends? Or is the preferred method to look for deals on gently used or refurbished goods in order to keep costs down and profit margins high? Personally, I find my own gear strategy to be a blend of both, though as a general rule it tends to lean strongly towards the new-and-shiny end of the spectrum — an approach much noted and frowned upon by my significant other.

Any and all tips, tricks, and strategies you have to share would be greatly appreciated, and maybe we can all save a few bucks in the process! So my question for you is, how do you manage your hardware/home office/tools and supplies acquisition process?

Image by SlipStreamJC from flickr


Nancy Nally

I used a Palm T/X for quite a while – even did mobile trade show reporting with just it once! – until I bought a Vista machine, which broke the desktop sync on it. Shortly after that I bought an iPhone.

Refurb laptops are the way to go for me. I just handed down to my mom a Dell one I had been using for 4 years that I bought refurb. With the memory & hard drive upgrade we put into it, it will serve her well as a web surfing machine for quite awhile but it didn’t have the speed anymore do things I needed like process RAW files. I replaced it with a refurb 13″ MacBook. There’s such a price premium on laptops, the discount buying refurb helps! I took the cash I saved from the discount and put it into a memory and hard drive upgrade.

My favorite way to get gadget discounts on what I need is to try to time my purchases with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and shop on Black Friday sales. I’ve gotten insanely cheap SD cards and portable hard drives, for instance, by waiting in line at Staples before they open. That weekend is absolutely a fabulous time to buy electronics, especially if you don’t need the top-of-the-line models.

Meryl Evans

Just got a new camera… sort of. It’s a refurb. I love my Canon SD550 (it’s my second one and I bought it used. My first one died.). Then I came across a great deal on the Canon SD1100 (a newer version of the 550) and I love it more! It’s even lighter than the 550.

I have no problem buying used or refurb (iPods, laptops, cameras) and have had good luck. I try to make the right decision to get things I will use often, but do get the occasional item that I end up not using much like the JVC hard drive camera. It’s a pain to convert the video to a more common standard like MPG or AVI. Thinking about selling that one.

Haven’t tried the Craig’s List trade off approach. Might look into that.

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