Since I started here in 1991, the technology business has seen lots of changes with respect to price versus quality, and with respect to availability and accessibility.  I think of the days when a 16x4 audio mixer cost $5000, when it was common to pay $1200 for a mid-range wireless microphone system, and when a video projector used to be as big as a motorcycle and as expensive as a house.

The "race to zero" (as we call it) has allowed more people utilize technology and has increased its use, but since a product can't cost nothing, something has to give.  Have costs of production been reduced?  Yes.  Has component quality been cut?  In many situations, yes.  Did manufacturers make "too much" money way back when?  I have no way to answer that.  The bottom line is that more people can buy more equipment, and that's a good thing.

Lower prices bring more people into the buying equation, but once prices are lower, what have we come to expect?  Even lower prices and lower prices again.  At some point, the equipment we offer has to be made of something and it still has to work, and people have to be paid to design and produce it.  It has to cost something.

How are lower prices achieved?  Think cereal boxes and toilet paper.  Smaller, shorter – less for more.  Our suppliers have to give us less to keep prices the same or to lower them in an inflationary environment.  It's the same for everything.  You get what you pay for, and there's a cost to low prices.

How many of you make less money than you did in 1991?  The engineers who design these products don't either, but modern production techniques make better equipment more available than it's ever been.

In the technology business, it's usually quality and performance that suffers.  We have cheap equipment that behaves like cheap equipment.  And the really good stuff is still expensive.

Again, please be aware that much of the savings has come at the expense of something (whether US jobs, component quality, or profit margins), so please select your tools well.  My goal is to find products that meet the quality/value equation and feature them.  Sometimes, those are lower-priced products that work really well, and sometimes, those are more expensive pieces that you'd be wise to save for if necessary.

Spend some time in our Product Reviews section to find the products I believe in most.


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