It can be hard to know which products to buy in a sea of products that look and act so much alike. Is there any real value in getting the most expensive? Is the budget item the better value? What features will be meaningful to you? How important are emotional factors such as color and texture? These types of questions multiply depending on the category. The more high-tech the product, the more questions there are to ask.

Unfortunately, there is no single right answer, or set of right answers. You would evaluate a sports car differently than you would a piece of industrial robotics. For instance, If you were looking for a remote surveillance robot for inspecting confined and difficult to reach areas, it would need the following attributes:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Water-resistant
  • Able to traverse challenging terrain
  • Two-way, real-time voice, video, and data communication from a safe distance

This type of tool is not about aesthetics and providing a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is about functionality and performance in tight and mission-critical situations. Industrial tech comes with its own unique set of rules for evaluation. Here are a few tips on how to evaluate tech in other categories:

Gaming

These days, gaming is not just computing, it is the high-end of computing. Your gaming headphones will be different from your mobile music listening headphones. When gaming, you need headphones to sound good with music, spoken word, and atmospherics. 3D surround sound is important for the precise placement of in-game events.

Don’t forget the microphone. A professional gamer is not an oxymoron. Professionals will be streaming while they play. That means they will need an excellent mic that can handle live and recorded sessions incorporated into the headphones. It is a completely different caliber of mic than that used for phone calls.

With pro gaming, your laptop has to be a lot better than something used for business. It will be bigger and heavier, with a much more advanced cooling system. You will be pushing the silicon to the limits all the time. It also needs to be aesthetically satisfying. A gamer needs to maintain an image in the community. Also, they will play better if they feel good about their hardware. There is definitely an emotional component that has nothing to do with raw performance.

Remote Work Laptop

Your remote work laptop is very different from the gaming laptop. It will be a little more expensive for a different reason: If you are carrying it with you a lot, it should be as thin and light as possible without sacrificing performance. If you are an office worker, your performance needs will not be that high. However, you will want a clear and bright screen for outdoor usage and the longest battery life you can get so that you are not dependent on being near a wall socket.

A key piece of equipment a lot of people forget about is the front camera. There was a time when it wasn’t very important. But if you are doing a lot of Zoom meetings, it could be one of the most important considerations you will have. People who give bad presentations don’t often win big contracts or get the big sale. Your camera is a huge part of your presentation.

TV

One of the hardest consumer products to buy right now is a television. There are so many specs and so many price points, it is hard to tell what you are buying. The simplest criteria is to get the most TV you can comfortably afford. But that advice only works if TV watching is really important to you. If it isn’t and you don’t have other things hooked up to it like game consoles, go for the cheapest TV that still looks good to you. It is possible to get a very acceptable 50” 4K TV for well under $300. Star Trek reruns will look fantastic.

Buying the right technology can be difficult. Failing to understand the relevant factors can lead to expensive mistakes. Whether you are buying industrial equipment, gaming gear, a business laptop, or TV, don’t get sidetracked by irrelevancies. Focus on why you need the gear and you will land in the sweet spot every time.