Is every gadget purchase tinged with potential regret?

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Dateline: November 9, Manhattan. I'm inside B&H Photo, carrying a Nikon D70 SLR camera my dad was kind enough to pass down to me. It doesn't have a lens, or a memory card, or a case. Those are my responsibilities. This is why I'm spending close to an hour staring at various lenses ranging from 18-55 all the way up to 18-200mm, all the while knowing nearly nothing about SLR technology.

November 10: 11 a.m. After a long shower this morning and a fretful commute to work, I'm carrying my D70 with the Tamron 18-200mm lens I bought, and wondering, did I do the right thing? Did I make the right purchase?

I'm an editor at CNET, but I review laptops, not cameras. And still, post-purchase, I'm racked with regret. Consumer second-guessing--should I have gotten a cheaper Nikon kits lens?--is combined with frantic forum-reading, friend-calling, colleague-consulting. I'm told on four separate occasions that, yes, I made a good purchase. Moreover, the Tamron lens only cost $229 after rebate.

The source of my anxiety. CNET

But I feel like I've bought a Ferrari. I feel slightly ill. And the funny part about the experience is that I'm reading more about the various Nikon SLR lenses after my purchase than before.

Does this happen to you? I've always had a theory (and so does another co-worker) that it's post-purchase when we want to read the most about our laptop, our game, our new accessory. We want extra confirmation of our good judgment, our wise decision. We want positive reinforcement. We want a pat on the back.

I've found solace from our own camera team and their reviews, and from user opinions. How about you? Are all your purchases tinged with a feeling of potential regret, of fear that you chose poorly? One of the few purchases I've ever made with no regrets was my iPhone, but even then I felt bad about spending so much money in the first place. It's not easy, especially with so many options and so many Web sites and threads that endlessly bat around every minute detail.

Plus, there's always the feeling with any consumer electronics purchase that the cheaper route is somehow a compromised route, and the more you learn the more that lingers in the back of your mind (or, at least, mine) like a grinning devil. Spend a little more...just a little more...or, conversely, why didn't you save a few more bucks?

Meanwhile, I'm learning about SLR cameras as I take photos of my ever-more-mobile child, all the while trying to calm pangs of what my friends like to call "Consumer Stein Remorse."

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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