December 24, 2017

Good Enough

Early HDTV setup, mid 2000s techUntil a few days ago, I had a medium-size rear projection TV. I don't remember when I bought it, but I am confident that it was more than 12 years ago. It was never big enough for the room I had it in, especially because I stupidly set up the furniture so that the seating position would have been too far away even for a TV with a much larger screen. But it was what I could afford at the time, and so I made do. It was good enough.

About two months ago, a large pink blotch appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen. It was distracting and slowly became worse over time. I had previously had this TV fixed once, and it was not cheap. I thought briefly about having it fixed again but decided that would be a mistake. TV technology has advanced rapidly since I bought this one. It was long past obsolete, and I decided that it made more sense to put the money a repair would cost toward a replacement.

I quickly discovered that I could buy a somewhat larger UHD LED TV for less than I paid for this old thing so long ago. It would have all the current technology I was missing and should be a big step ahead in terms of picture quality. In researching TVs, I learned that plasma was gone and the choice now came down to OLED or LED. Virtually every review I found concluded that OLED was vastly superior in terms of picture quality. Not surprisingly, they were also quite a bit more expensive than LED models. In the end, I decided that I was just not willing to pay as much as I'd need to pay for one of highly rated OLED models. I pulled the trigger on a mid-grade LED instead.

I haven't taken the new LED TV out of the box yet, so I can't comment on what I think of it or whether I made the right decision. What I do want to comment on is this notion of "good enough" when it comes to how we make decisions. After spending way too much time reviewing TVs, I realized I could either spend whatever it cost to buy one of the "best" models or I could save some money and recognize that any new TV I bought was likely to be several steps better than my old one was. After getting stuck for awhile in the pursuit of the "best" TV, I realized that I didn't need the best; I just needed one that was good enough.

When my iPhone 5S dies, I'll replace it with an iPhone SE. Why? Because for what I need, that makes the most sense. I have zero interest in ever owning a phone that won't fit comfortably in my pocket. I have no desire to use the cameras, play games, watch video, or install more than a handful of apps. If I handed over $1,000 for an iPhone X, I'd have a phone that would be too large with features I'd never use. I see little point in that. For me, an iPhone SE is good enough.

Many people spend too much money this time of year on things they don't need, and I'm often one of them. Even though I don't participate in Christmas, I do take advantage of some sales. I also tend to buy more this time of year because this is one of the few times when I have some time off work to deal with replacing things that need replacing. It would be easy to chase perfection and tell myself that I "needed" or even "deserved" things I cannot really afford. Buying things that are good enough probably makes much more sense.