Monday, August 18, 2008

Year-2006 Technology:

A recent ad from Dell computer told me that they are giving away prizes in an online contest. They invited me to enter the contest every day to the end of September. I thought that would be a good idea. Entering the contest took five minutes, with a lot of lines to fill out. That does it, I thought. I'm not entering this contest again, too much work.

Two minutes later I got an Email informing me that I had won one of their fifth prizes, a PowerVault RD1000. Now if you're a lot like me, you would naturally have two thoughts:
  1. Isn't it nice to get instant notification that you've won something?
  2. What the heck is a PowerVault RD1000?
The latter question turned out to be very interesting, since Dell has chosen to use one identifying symbol for a vast line of products. I exchanged many emails with their prize people, and eventually discovered that I had won a backup disk system consisting of a chassis with a USB interface, and an 80/160MB cartridge. (Let's just call it an 80MB cartridge, because the higher number refers to the estimated drive size if you compress everything.)

Now it happens that I recently decided I need 160MB of disk drive backup for my audio files. There's a very sweet recent product that's portable and handy, the Western Digital Passport USB drive. (Several other companies, such as Iomega, make similar drives.) My first reaction was great joy; I did not have to buy that drive, I would use my prize instead.

Except ...

Well first of all, note that the prize drive is half the space I think I need. Disk Cartridge prices are very high for the RD1000, and prices for the Passport drive are remarkably low. The bottom line here is that disk drive prices drop very, very fast over time. The RD1000, a year-2006 product, cannot easily compete with newer disk drives. Now I'm obligated to pay taxes on my prize if I receive it, and its estimated value is $299. The tax on this drive compares closely with the price of newer disk drives, and the newer drives are likely to be more convenient to carry around and use on multiple systems.

This is the most valuable prize I've ever won in a contest, and I turned it down. I'm going to buy a 160MB drive instead.
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