Jul 27, 2011

Back when I was a young scrap...

I spent the weekend clearing junk out of my closet, which included piles of old credit card receipts. At one point I used to track my purchases closely, which wasn't that hard when I was a student and only made a handful of purchases a month. While there may have been once where I was able to refer to a credit card bill to check when I purchased an item for a warranty claim, the receipts have been practically worthless.

However, they definitely held nostalgic value. Skimming through them brought back memories. Some were blurrier - meals at Morty's or King Tin - there were many of them, and I wouldn't have remembered one from another. But others that were more unique, I recalled though I would not have thought of them at all without the receipts. A meal at CN Tower stood out, that was in 1998. In a way, they were almost like a journal, a lifetime narrated in purchases and payments.

It was also interesting to look at how quickly the value of gadgets decline. Not that I'm not already keenly aware of that, but to actually compare the dollar values, then and now, can sometimes be pretty staggering. This isn't at all scientific, since for some items I'm comparing what the same product costs now, and for others, a higher end modern equivalent. I also don't take inflation into account. Consider this purely for entertainment.

Ritex 4GB 80X CF $103.50 2006
Kingston 4GB 133X CF $13.29 2011
This one didn't surprise me much because I've been watching the price of Flash drop since I bought my first 128MB CF card for my Canon G1. I think that cost me a few hundred dollars. Anything made with silicon drops fast as the chips shrink. Moore's Law says transistor counts double every 2 years. You would expect prices to halve every 2 years, and be maybe 1/8th after 6 years, but in this case it's more like 1/10th after 5 years.

Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP 30" Monitor $1435.00 2006
Dell UltraSharp U3011 30" Monitor $1349.00 2011
The latest model has much improved colours and connectivity, but I feel like I got a pretty good buy 5 years ago with this monitor. Seems to have held it's value far better than the TV below.

350W Fanless power supply $89.61USD 2006
Seasonic 400W Fanless power supply $151.35 2011
Fanless power supplies were never popular, so they were always more expensive due to the lack of scale. As the desktop market shrinks to laptops, I suppose the market's becoming even more niche. This is probably the one item on this list that's getting more expensive over the years.

Burton Ruler boots $124.99USD 2003
Burton Ruler boots $199.99USD 2011
Looks like the price of snowboard gear is pretty stable, though you can always get last season's gear at steep discounts, which was why my boots are cheaper than the current ones. I think the MSRP is probably pretty similar.

SMC7004AWBR 802.11b router $174.95USD 2001
Linksys WRT54GL 802.11b/g router $49.99USD 2011
There's wireless routers for as low as $25. I'm surprised to see that the WRT54GL still sells. It's a really old product that doesn't support the latest fast wireless standards, but lives on due to it's hackability with DD-WRT. There's also high end $130 devices, but it seems most new devices are in the $50-80 range.

SMC2632W 802.11b PC card $74.95USD 2001
Rosewill 802.11b/g/n USB2.0 dongle $14.99USD 2011
Wifi was new back in 2001, but it's completely commoditized now. What's more interesting is to see how PCMCIA slots in laptops slowly transform to PC Card slots, then to ExpressCard slots, and then being ditched pretty much entirely for USB accessories.

Heine HR 2.5x 420mm Loupe $635.00USD 2001
Heine HR 2.5x 420mm Binocular set $1395.00 2011
Heine makes binocular loupes, they come in pairs, like your eyes. I have no idea why I only bought only 1 in 2001. I must have been retarded. But it seems like they haven't depreciated much in the last decade.

Createive Labs Nomad 20GB $349.99USD 2001
Archos GMINI 120 20GB $249.99 2004

iPod classic 160GB $249 2011
iPod nano 16GB $179 2011
Given how fast the price of a MB of storage drops, either on HD or in Flash, I would have expected the price of MP3 players to plumet like a bomb. An iPod classic stores 8x as much as the GMINI from 7 years ago, and it also plays movies now. But it's still $250 for an mp3 player. The iPod nano contains less than $20 of flash memory, and I'm sure the other parts might add up to another $20. Somehow Apple's managed to keep the price of these products up and reap the margins as the value of the components drop. I'm pretty much expecting this market to disappear as people are using their phones for pretty much everything now.

Toshiba TW40X81 40" TV $2956.52CDN 2000
Toshiba 40G300U 40" TV $659.00USD 2011
Big bulky rear projection TV in the era where 540p was "high definition", compared to a sleek 1080p LCD. Big progress here. Also shows how a 40" TV was considered pretty big back then, now it's about as small as you can get.

Hollywood DVD Decoder Card $120.00CDN 2000
This was an add in card that let my Pentium Pro machine play DVDs, since the CPU itself wasn't fast enough to decode DVDs. Products like this just don't exist now, so I can't compare the current value. Depreciation at infinity.

Denon AVR3300 $1478.26CDN 1999
Denon AVR3312CI $1099.99USD 2011
Audio gear hasn't progressed nearly as fast as TVs. Lack of any significant technology improvements in the power amplifiers may be part of it, but I suspect marketting of home theater audio as a luxury good has something to do with keeping the prices up. Still the audio market has changed a lot. Stereo amps have pretty much disappeared, and Hi-fi magazines have been replaced by home theater magazines. The latest AVR3312CI is networked, which is a big difference from the AVR3300 on top of all the other improvements.

Toshiba SD3109 DVD Player $679.00 1999
Toshiba SD4300 DVD Player $37.99 2011
The pitfalls of being an early adopter, seriously. It can handle 2 DVDs at once though, modern players don't do that!

Panasonic 4x/8x CD-R IDE $370CDN 1998
Sony 24X/16X DVD+R/+RW $19.99USD 2011
Wow I bought that? Oh yeah, I remember, it was for archiving data, and $370 plus a stack of CDs seemed cheap compared to the 10GB hard disks of the times. In addition to cleaning out my old receipts this past weekend, I also copied all my archived CDs/DVDs onto a 2TB hard drive so I could throw out the huge stack of plastic. Optical drives are going the way of the dodo.

Pioneer 10X DVD Slot load $199CDN 2000
Sony DVD-ROM $16.99 2011
I wish everything dropped in price like this.

Twin Mattress $279.99CDN 1996
Twin Mattress $259.99USD 2011
Why can't mattress prices decline be like DVD players?

1 comment:

b.p. said...

Wow, you still have receipts from Morty's and King Tin?! Well, at least the places still exist, though I'm pretty sure wings night prices have gone up too :P