Friday, December 3

What items would you pay a premium for, to get superior quality?

I imagine most of us would like to have the top quality of every type of device we own, home we live in, car we drive. I mean, why not? Set aside the unfairness of the real world, thoughts of affluence and poverty, and just put your mind in a fictional realm for a moment.

Now I want you to list a few (at most maybe a half-dozen) items you own or interact with in your life (non-living) which you particularly value and for which you would happily pay extra (and scrimp a bit on other things) to have a superior make and model, or something which makes an artistic impression, or just is a cut above the norm.

Some people want the latest touchscreen phones, which is perfectly fine. I on the other hand wouldn't turn one down (because they seem easier to use - my current phone is like trying to figure out a VCR), but I hate phones in general and so I'd never put that on my list. Some like fancy shoes, others a work of art to hang on their wall, some like well-built automobiles while others cherish fancy computer systems with powerful graphics and multiple large monitors. Some are into home theater, other into quality kitchen appliances or cutlery or superior furniture. You see what I mean.

Assume everything else in your life would be adequate and not cheapened, but just not special in the same way. Now, don't use this opportunity to say "a mansion, fully appointed with the best of everything" or "a Lear jet" or "a Bentley" or "a yacht". Let's keep this to the single-digit thousands of dollars or lower. Basically, think on the smaller side and be reasonable.
Personally, I value a really great, reliable car, but that's a bit over what we've decided the price range is to be, so I'm going to say: A leading edge computer loaded with hardware and software for under $10,000, but probably a Macintosh Pro with 3 large screens, upgraded graphics and memory, and Photoshop. I like jewelry (not much of it, but stuff made of platinum and other rare metals), so maybe a necklace and a couple of rings (like those two-toned Mokume-gane rings) in that range. Also, a wardrobe that isn't Armani but isn't Target... something casual but obviously high quality - the brand isn't the thing but just to name-check some I'd say The North Face, Eddie Bauer, Clarke's of London shoes, a cashmere sweater or two - practical, durable, comfortable things I'll definitely wear often, which will hold up because of their quality of construction and which just happen to look nice as well. I like the example of The North Face - it's pricey, but not when compared to "name designer clothing", and it's actually used by professional outdoorspeople the world round. Or Vasque boots. Or Levi's 501s. Clothing that works and happens to have a splash of taste and fits well, both literally and with my personality.

The last few things: High-quality oak bookcases, built-in, with a ladder attached I could slide around to get at my books. I already have a floor globe... and a powerful 'tactical' LED flashlight. Maybe some really good binoculars, from Nikon, Zeiss, or Swarovski? Maybe a solid but affordable geological binocular microscope for looking at fossils up close and with good depth perception? Maybe a home theater system - affordable, with a minimum of components, but each one being a good brand? It's hard to say.

Oh, and above all else: A high-quality bed/mattress and a superb COMFY CHAIR. Some nice lamps with soft lighting would be welcomed as well. Yeah, I think I'd choose the simpler things like a few select pieces of furniture and kitchen appliances rather than fancy electronics. Things built solidly that will last a lifetime.

And you? What matters most to you amongst the smaller conveniences in your life?


Raelha said...

Hmm, you've mentionned some of what I'd say:

Kitchen utensils, especially knives and pans, and a thick, heavy chopping board. That all makes such a difference.

Then clothes, nothing designer, but well cut and using quality materials.

Food too, organic of course. That's especially important now I don't have a vegetable patch.

I like those bookcases, I'll take several of them, and the matress idea. I had a wonderful orthopedic matress when in Cardiff and still miss it.

And also speakers, something that's going to make my music sound even better.

Well, I'm working on it, bit by bit. Maybe the matress should be next.

billybytedoc said...

Car ( not luxury, quality )
Food ( not snob appeal, just good food )

Metamatician said...

Thanks you guys. Good answers.

I'm big on quality speaker and headphones too, Raelha. I'm afraid my tastes are those of an audiophile and my means are those of someone begging for shekels, though.

However, when I did have a decent income I bought a pair of Klipsch Promedia 2.1 Speakers for my computer, and they are really outstanding (Byte knows because he bought a set too). Hard to beat for the price - they've dropped to about $150, if you can find them. They've been around about 10 years - I know because I've had mine about that long! In fact they're the oldest piece of my computer system; but alas, they're finally starting to have problems.

Still, the quality is awesome. No speakers in that price range have nearly the clarity in the mids and highs (which are fully separate on the 2 satellites), and a 200-watt amp built into the sub (yes, you read that right, 200) - 35 true watts (RMS, not peak) to each of the satellites, and 130 whopping RMS watts to the subwoofer, which is refreshingly build of real wood, is ported, and which bumps low, hard, and tight. You won't believe it when you listen to music on them - they literally sound like a $500+ living room system with a separate amp/receiver. Byte actually used his to play music in the main large room in his house, controlled from iTunes on his computer back in his man-cave!

Metamatician said...

I'm going to continue my speaker/headphone discussion on a main post for others' benefit as well... What I have written won't be accepted because it's too long, naturally, and I'd have to break into chunk that no on will read. At least if I post it with some snazzy product photos and handy links, somebody may.

I'm not a cook by any stretch of the imagination but I know enough and have been around cooks and helped out enough that I agree with the value of quality kitchen utensils as well. Especially just a couple REALLY good knives - such as W├╝sthof - and a great cutting board. Also a small reliable food processor to chop lots of things in a hurry, heavy cutting board, kitchen scissors, heavy-bottomed quality pots and pans, and I suppose you could go on and on. But so many people have tons of knives and tons of useless gadgets - you just need a couple great knives that you know how to sharpen, a cutting board that you can clean easily and will hold up, and then whatever your specialty is... if you like to bake or make break or anything that requires mixing, it's hard to beat a heavy-ass solid steel Kitchenaid. But anyway you know this stuff better than I do. And it's too bad Heath never comes around this site anyway, he'd have some good things to say about vital utensils I'm sure.

You spend 1/3 of your life on a mattress, so a good one (not necessarily some exotic super-expensive one, just one that agrees with you and is constructed to hold up for many years) is obviously worth the best you can do in that department.

And I agree with both of you about good, wholesome, tasty food! REAL food has so much flavor and is chock full of nutrients, unlike the blanched sickly-looking offerings at supermarkets these days. And food is one of life's pleasure, so I agree with Byte that forget the fanciness, make or order something tasty and enjoyable, don't overeat, and get exercise (I say as I've been sick almost 7 weeks...). The French and Italians eat rich, delicious food, and most of them are much thinner than Americans or Brits. We seem to have our priorities (and portions) all wrong.

Well, I'd better stop here. Thanks again for chiming in- you guys are reliable when it comes to getting comments, and I appreciate it a lot! Makes it fun for me to write.

Metamatician said...

Re-thinking my own list, some of the things that are important to me are some of the simplest:

A comfortable reading chair.
A comfy and supportive mattress.
A good sound system.
Quality clothes that will last.
Comfortable, well-made shoes.
A place to keep my books.
A reliable computer.
An excellent pen.
A safe neighborhood.
An orange cat.

Yeah, I like gadgets and hi-tech stuff and fancy cars and all kinds of things when I turn my boyish imagination lose, but none of those things repay you the way the simplest things in your life do - the things you use over and over.

I guess that's my final answer.

Hans said...

I want new carpeting - thick and luxurious!
I have a nice car, but I would get a nicer one if I could. I just like driving well built cars *German.
I wear good shoes so I don't have too many pairs, but what I have I love.
I would like another set of speakers for the office: Logitech or Klipsch.
Yes, good knives and pans. Good furniture, an excellent mattress would be worth a LOT, but I have a pretty good one. Quality over quantity, all the way!

Metamatician said...

Thanks! Good ones.

And yeah, German cars are great! I'd love a Porsche, Audi, or BMW. Too bad Mercedes is co-owned by Chrysler now: instant suckage.

Swedes make good cars too, and Italians only at the HIGH end. American cars vary, some are good, many not so much.

Japanese cars don't seem as reliable as they once did. They still make good cars, though.

All the Korean, Chinese, French, low-end Italian, and Russian cars are junk though, with a few exceptions here and there. Korean cars are getting better quickly, especially.

And Peugeot and Renault make some good models still. British cars are not really make there anymore, which is a shame because I like their distinctive styling. And whatever you do, don't get a Czech-made car!

(Sorry Raelha :P)

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