So, I've been thinking about something lately, and I would like to know your opinions. First, let me preface by saying that I have no personal preference or judgment about how people make buying decisions. The choices I'm going to talk about are not mutually exclusive, nor is one better than the other.
You may have read rumors that Apple may be launching a 12-inch MacBook Air, possibly with retina display, sometime this year. If it comes out, I really, really want it, even though I have a very fast, very nice 15-inch MacBook Pro that, while sort of old (it's a 2009), has never had a problem and is in mint condition. I am justifying this purchase to myself because I can sell the MBP for somewhere in the range of $1k even though it's five years old. Even though the new computer won't have quite the power and the capacity of my current laptop, I will be gaining a ton of portability, which I've realized has become increasingly important to me. I also think that between the new laptop and my phone, I will have my computing needs totally covered (in other words: O iPad, o iPad, ne'er will I see thee more).
Now here is where I started to run into trouble in my thought process. I have been using Apple laptops for something like 18 years, but I've only ever owned four because I have always bought the best model I could afford, with ample memory and the fastest processor available. By doing that, I have been able to get anywhere between 5 and 7 years of use out of each machine before it either died or could no longer support contemporary applications. Part of me really likes doing it this way because it fits with the practice I apply to other purchases I make: buy the best within reason, and use it for as long as possible before getting another one. It's part of why I buy TB bags. But electronic equipment isn't meant to last forever; its obsolescence is built in from the get go. In 2009, there was no "retina", there wasn't always "an app for that", and cloud storage was not as ubiquitous or affordable as it is now. I've realized that I can do what I need to do on far less machine these days (in terms of both storage and screen real estate) than I have in the past, and I expect the confluence of agility and power to only strengthen as the future unfurls. I've also realized that holding on to a computer for 5-7 years may no longer be a wise practice, and that in some ways it makes sense to go the cheap (well, cheaper, anyway) and cheerful route and replace more frequently.
But part of me is bothered by the idea of buying the base model and replacing it every time there's a major product refresh (i.e., every two years). While doing this would allow me to make the most of computing trends, I can't shake the idea that maybe this is wasteful—and let's not even get into having to replace multiple accessories/sleeves/etc. when you get a model that's quite different in size than the one you had previously. It's not like I would chuck the laptop in the trash; I would sell it and someone else would get use out of it. But my conservationist impulses tell me it would be better if I didn't buy anything at all until it was absolutely necessary. After all, I've resisted the siren call of the retina screen and/or increasingly powerful MBAs for quite a number of years now.
Is it possible that I already have buyer's remorse? I realize that this is a first-world problem of the highest order, and one for which there may not be a good answer. I'm not looking for advice (I've decided quite firmly to upgrade for a number of reasons); I'm just wondering if you have thought about this and your perspective on the matter, whether it's about computers or anything else.