Being nickel and dimed to death

One of the dirty little secrets of tech is that you often don’t stop spending once you have purchased your shiny new piece of technology. Indeed, often times you will end up spending as much, if not more, as you did when you made that first purchase. In some cases, you don’t even realize you have done so. I recently actually received something for my iPad that I have forgotten that I had ordered. It took a month, a MONTH, for Apple to ship me the Camera Connection kit for my iPad. This thing, which consists of two adaptors (one a USB adaptor and the other a SD Card adaptor) and plastic bag which was the packaging, for thirty dollars. Yes, thirty dollars seems to be the magic number for little accessories such as that. I checked all of the stuff I had purchased for the iPad: the keyboard dock, a separate dock, the VGA connector, the extra power adaptor with the long cord (you know, so you can actually USE it more than two feet from the AC outlet) a three dollar carrying case and two three dollar business card holders that I use as holders for the device itself. Now, that adds up to about two hundred dollars, not quite the cost of the device. However, there is also the software I’ve purchased. Although I have not purchased that much, less than fifty dollars for now, I’m sure that over time I will spend a great deal more on the software. The point here is that the accessories I purchased should not cost as much and, better yet, should have been included with the device. The USB cable that Apple includes is about two feet long. It would not reach from the open AC plug I had, no, I had to move some things around just so I could plug in the included AC adaptor. Worse, the cable barely reached the computer. The longer cord that came with the thirty dollar adaptor I bought SHOULD HAVE been included as well as the USB adaptor. But, this is where Apple can make a great deal of profit: through its rip off accessories.

Apple is not the only one. No, most companies are doing this. Take Sony. The PS3 is down to a more reasonable $299 (which is still about $100 more than it should be) but if you have more than one person who will be playing, then you have to spend from $29.95 to $54.95 PER CONTROLLER, depending on the brand. In order to take full advantage of the graphical power of the console, you must also purchase either a component cable or HDMI cable. These cost anywhere from $14.95 to $29.95 or more. Since you will do a lot of typing while using the system, you need a keyboard. You can get a normal PC type keyboard but if you need the keypad that fits on the controller itself, be prepared to shell out nearly fifty dollars and, unfortunately, it is almost a must. If you wish to use the console to watch Blu-Ray or DVD’s, then you’ll need the remote control – which should come in the damn box with the controller.

Microsoft is just as bad with the XBOX 360. You will need extra controllers, the component or HDMI cable, keyboard or keypad or, in other words, the same bloody crap as the PS3, just for the XBOX. Oh, and except for the new XBOX Slim, you also need the WiFi adaptor if you don’t have an Ethernet connection handy. Oh, and Microsoft charges for its Live service. Both the PS3 and XBOX also offer up headsets that let you talk online.

Of course, there is also the games. But, I don’t include them in the nickel and dime stuff since it is the games that you WANT to buy anyway.

Nintendo is the worst, though. With the Wii, you need THREE controllers per player: the Wii Remote, the Nunchuck and the Classic Controller. Oh, there is also the Wii MotionPlus, a $20 add on for the Wii Remote and its required for many new games. Then there’s…wait, that’s it. The console is standard def, the so the pack in cables are just fine. The console includes the sensor bar. It includes the WiFi, so nothing there to buy. It’s online play is free. Hmm…so, maybe they aren’t the worst after all.

So far, nothing seems to include everything you need. My Zune, for instance, didn’t come with the cables necessary to connect it to my hi-def television, yet that is one of the touted features. The iPod Touch doesn’t come with any kind of carrying case to protect it. My Pre didn’t come with the car charger, which the old Motorola Q did. I could go on and on, but I won’t, too damn depressing to think about. Alas, it is the price we pay to have our toys.

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