What do I look at when I need to purchase computer hardware?
The key word here is "need." Do I really need the damn thing after all? I hate spending money. Everyone should. The world would be a financially sounder place if the rest of the human race would stop and think about their purchases before making them. If the benefit to me outweighs, in my view, the cost, then I proceed to the next question. If I can afford to make a discretionary purchase even after saving for retirement and medical expenses and the proverbial rainy day--then and only then I'll buy. I do not believe in using credit for anything other than a home mortgage, even for the sake of the stupid one per cent rewards that credit card companies offer. No. Cash money up front, every time. No exceptions. Go by that rule, and you will live a calmer life. Credit card companies are parasites feeding upon the mentally feeble.
The first thing I look at with computer hardware is what other people are saying about it. Reputation matters. If a lot of people are having problems with a product, then there is probably something wrong with it. The other thing I look at is Linux compatibility. If a piece of hardware is not Linux-compatible, then it is a piece of garbage in my view. When computer systems reach retirement age, they evolve from Windows systems to Linux systems. I don't want any nasty surprise waiting for me ten years from now with a scanner, printer, video card or external enclosure for a hard drive. The #1 thing I look at is does it work in Linux. If not, pass.
Generally I buy the absolute minimum that I need and only purchase hardware that has been around for a while. Newly introduced hardware has two problems. First, it is more expensive. Second, it is untested and may have as yet unidentified problems. I know exactly how much testing many manufacturers do. The answer is not enough. The rush to market is insane, and quality controls just don't matter to the manager-types looking to boost sales figures. Again, I want to see a lot of positive reviews from respectable sources about a product, and then I might buy it. If other people are having a problem with the product, and the problem is not related to their ignorance, then I don't want that product.
-I can afford it
-I really need it
-Good reputation of the manufacturer and the specific product
-Linux-compatible AND moreover, works very well with Linux (positive reviews help here)
-Been out for a while, not brand new