10 things you have that you don't really need
Soaring unemployment and "a long, deep recession" is seeing a surge of consumers cutting past high-spending habits to save for the rainy day. Official national accounts figures would confirm that, said The Times. But you know, it's not always stuff that cost us thousands of quid that really add up. We're often buying stuff we don't really need, just because the deal was 'hot'. So here's 10 such items in my book:
1. Blu-Ray Player: I love the picture, and I love the technology. Considering that £130 for a Blu-Ray player is considered 'hot', there's clearly consumer demand. Now, watching Blu Ray is of course a whole different experience to DVD, especially when it's Transformers on a 40" HDTV (mostly thanks to Megan Fox's chest). But I don't see the cost-benefit in forking out on a technology where prices are bound to start crashing down in the coming year(s), and then a further £8-£10 per hour or so of entertainment. Verdict: Until prices come down more reasonably, I am sticking to DVDs and DivX for now.
2. eBook Reader: Don't get me wrong. I'd love an ebook reader. But an ebook reader is like a gym membership - it doesnt' mean that I'd actually read anything, especially if you have a pile of textbooks at home that you're not reading. Verdict: A £100 device with fancy 'epaper' technology is not going to read itself, so until that day comes along, this is a 'no' in my book for now. If you're really keen to get hold of one of these, checking the Sony E-Reader PRS-505/SC from Play for £189.99 (found by dink).
3. David Beckham #7 England shirt: Some football fans might shout at me, but this has nothing to do with football. The point is that we often buy an excessive amount of t-shirts just because it's cheap, and we never end up wearing them. On the other hand, if w'ere talking about this David Hasselhoff 'Don't Hassel The Hoff' t-shirt for £2.99 from Play, that's a whole different story. Verdict: Hot deal? No. Egomanic? Yes.
4. Leather look car seat covers: As witnessed from various HUKD threads here and here, leather look car seat covers are not the new black. My future Lamborghini needs the extra foam backing for extra comfort, but anything made out of 100% polyester backings is just plain grey. Verdict: 'Sponge wipe clean' does sounds like it'll save me some extra cash on maintaining a luxury ride, but I'll pass.
5. Men's knitted tank top: I don't care if this was a D&G top reduced from £699 to £1. Actually, this one costs £70, which means you can actually spend the money on 5 of these Ripcurl Represent 86 Hooded Tops, or for a further £10, a 60 Ltr Big BiOrb of Coldwater Fish Tank solution for your home. It even comes with Halogen lighting and a heater that you can buy separately for your tropical fish. Of course, we all need one of those.
6. Free USB memory sticks (or any fan style USB given out for free): If you want a USB stick, just buy a proper USB stick. I'm sure fans of Lesbian Vampire Killers collect these for fun, but most places that offer these drives usually want something. Like your soul. Really. You'll get opt into some mailing list (e.g. Lesbian Vampire Killer USB is from Cineworld, same with the Wachmen USB memory stick), then not even vampire killers can save you. So if you insist, at least glance over the T&C to make sure you aren't signing yourself up for the war. Verdict: You probably have a USB drive anyway, so what's the point of cluttering your home with more useless stuff?
7. 3G iPhone: I'm being a hypocrite to include this in the list, considering that I have an iPhone myself. I have also spent many sleepless nights pondering and meditating on whether I should look at upgrading to the 3G iPhone. Tough one. Faster browsing on 3G probably means I can stop counting sheep while waiting for something that should be ridiculously fast like email preview. But the 3G iPhone (as I'll be covering in an upcoming feature) is also rather buggy with common defects worth knowing about, especially if you require a repair or upgrade. At the current retail price, the upgrade does not really justify the extra cost involved. Verdict: Look, I love GPS, but what happened to good old fashion asking for directions?
8. Digital photo frame: I had one of these, but after dumping a few photos and watching the slide show twice, I didn't really see the point, no matter how inconspicuous or sleek it may look. The point is you probably don't really need a digital photo frame. What's wrong with the computer monitor? That's what it's for.
9. 1TB external HDDs: I love HDD space, so this is a tough one to throw in. There's plenty of cheap HDDs going around on HUKD, so I've been very tempted. But to run out of space on 1TB of data, one is most likely storing too much useless junk, or just has an extensive porn collection. So the key is probably in changing the habitual pattern of how you store your data, meaning regular cleaning up and decluttering (especially the porn), if you have a predisposition to download download download. Verdict: The extra money spent on buying a new HDD would most likely just encourage you to download more junk you will never watch. Just like money, it's a matter of allocation. A single 500GB drive is more than sufficient for the average user.
10. A USB webcam: Most people buy webcams not because they actually use one, but because they're cheap. The exception would be for the live video spokesperson, and the online stripper. But you're then better off just getting a laptop with a built in cam, which won't be hard to find, seeing that would be pretty much most laptop and netbooks these days. Exception to the rule: desktop users. But do you really use your webcam? Verdict: Lugging around a webcam that requires plugging to play is probably not for most people.
Finally, if you want to get rid of stuff you really don't need, the 'For Sale / Trade' section on HUKD is actually a fantastic resource in conjunction to eBay, Gumtree and the like. I've actually been surprised by how much I've got out of each sale, especially my #7 Beckham t-shirt.
What other things do consumers buy that we don't really need? Share your thoughts in the comments below!