Squirrel!

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Caught this little fellow eating our neighbor’s apples while I was holding a camera. Lucky!

The photograph was taken with a Canon PowerShot G10 (released in 2008) and processed and uploaded with an iPad 3 (released in 2012). Both of these devices have been superseded by newer/faster/better versions — seven generations in the case of the camera. Yet here they are, still doing their jobs.

I spent some time this weekend at the Apple Store looking at the newly released iPad Air 2, which is three generations removed from the one I own. The new one is much thinner, lighter, and faster than mine. But there aren’t that many things I could do with the new one that mine won’t do. (A little slower, sure.) Why go through the expense (monetary and cognitive) of upgrading?

Now, the camera. Newer models can take better pictures, especially in low light; I own a newer (non-Canon) model that makes much better images. So you can say that a newer camera would allow me to do things I can’t currently do. However, I love the user interface of the G10, which is modeled on old manual film cameras. The G10 is also made of magnesium, which makes it robust and much nicer to hold than newer plastic models. I find using the G10 more pleasurable than more modern cameras, and am willing to live with the trade off of not being able to take decent low-light pictures – for now.

I increasingly find upgrades to be overrated. Many newer devices are better in some ways, but not better overall. As with so many things, it’s a matter of tradeoffs. When going through the process of deciding if an upgrade is worth it, the device I already own has a big advantage over the new one: I’ve already invested money to buy it and time to master it. I’ve developed a relationship with the thing. The new one must have truly amazing new features or UX to make it worth buying.