via Gizmodo US

Used to be, diving into a whole new product line was something only for the crazy ones, those who live dangerously, the mavericks. "Wise men wait to buy" was the refrain that rang through the web, with fear of hardware defects and half-baked features tempering the go! go! buy! buy! fever of a new product announcement.

But things are different now.

Manufacturing is Getting Really Good
Whether it's a unibody carved out of a single block of aluminum or a smaller, more efficient and reliable die for a game-console processor, manufacturing is getting better. Across the board. Mark Kotkin, the head of survey research at Consumer Reports, says that on the whole, reliability is higher and frequency of repairs is lower than they ever have been for the major brands. In the repair department, two of the least problematic major electronics are LCD and plasma flat screens, a shocker given the fact that they are two of the newest product types at the store.

Put simply, companies have tons of incentive to make their manufacturing process better, incentives that aren't directly related to making customers happy. If manufacturing is simpler and has more quality control, more product gets out the door, reducing throwaways and padding the bottom line with less cost (ergo more profit). That's nothing shocking—manufacturing gets better as tech gets more advanced. But because there's a built-in financial incentive for this to happen, it's a factor that won't be ignored, even—or especially—when cashflow is tight.

Software Updates Are More Powerful Than Ever
Gone are the days when every piece of home electronics comes with a different set of core parts. Today, our gear is more defined by the software that's running inside. And while no amount of firmware patching or OS upgrading will affect a melted solder point on a GPU or a warped laptop lid that won't close evenly, software updates bring serious enhancements down the pipe. Even gadget novices know enough to stick flash drives into their TVs to get improved HDMI performance when the situation arises, or anxiously pounce on new updates for game consoles with the hope of a fix or a free new feature.

Apple may control updates to the Nvidia GPUs in the new MacBooks, but knowing they are officially upgradeable via software—to allow for all kinds of goodies, like 8GB of RAM, dynamic dual-GPU cycling, and the like—is a buying incentive.

Some phones have it even easier, getting updated over the air. The G1 wasn't even fully released yet when we caught wind of the first OTA update coming down the pipe, and within a few hours of going open source, bugs were already being filed and fixed in the main Android stack by outside developers.

And back when we said wait on the iPhone? We were proven 100% right, as we watched it come fully into its own, at long last, with the 2.1 software. But because it was a free firmware update for all iPhones including the first-gen EDGE models, early adopters who didn't heed our warning still benefited from the massive revamp.

Microsoft showed similar goodwill by letting its major Zune updates trickle down the entire line, the latest update giving it a song recommendation engine that bests the iPod's.

Software upgrades are not always advantageous—recent iPhone and PlayStation firmware releases are crowning examples. But what's broken in software can be fixed in software, and when the breaks are egregious, the fixes usually come fast.

Full article at Gizmodo