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The price differences may be smaller than you think, and the quality differences may be larger than you think.
This post is part of an ongoing series of chapters from the book CHOICE. Please view this post for an introduction and table of contents. To keep up with each new chapter published, please subscribe.
While on the topic of devices, a quick rant about bargain or discount devices…
Anyone who has purchased technology knows these devices. They are last year’s models. The close out inventory devices. The rock bottom prices. Often preceded with the line “we currently have a great deal running on X Device.”
I often subscribe to the ideas of, “you get what you pay for.” Finding a great device at a bargain price can sometimes happen, but this is the exception, not the rule.
If you’re going to try your luck with the “best deal,” here are a few things to keep in mind.
Lifecycle - How long do you need these devices to last? 4 years? 5 years? 8 years?
Repairability - How long will the vendor or manufacturer be supporting the device? When will you no longer be able to get OEM parts to fix the devices?
Software - How long will updates be pushed to the devices? Will this hardware work with the next generation of software? Will it continue to work with whatever management software you use?
Cost - How much extra is the current model? The price difference may be smaller than you think, and the quality difference may be larger than you think.
If it is last year’s model that is being pushed on you, that means the device is already in use in other districts. Reach out to other districts, or ask the vendor who else has purchased these devices. Maybe they are great devices, maybe they have a high failure rate.
If the choice is, get one grade level 1:1 with good devices or 2 grade levels 1:1 with OK devices, choose the good devices. You'll be better off in the long run.
There are many examples of districts being burned by this in the long run. Devices not lasting as long as they have to. Students going through their junior and senior years of high school with sub par devices. IT departments having to do massive amounts of repairs on devices that only have 1 lifecycle year left.
Buying the most expensive devices does not guarantee success. Buying the cheapest device does not guarantee failure. Do your homework, and know what you’re buying.