When to splurge, when to save

by Albert Silver
12/2/2022 – It's too expensive. It is overpriced. The complaints are as widespread as they are common. We hear it all around us, we have said it ourselves. So how does one handle this when on the fence? Some thoughts on the decision process.

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I am not rich, but I absolutely will sometimes spend more money than seems reasonable on what some would consider mundane or absurd. All my choices though are well-weighed and weighted whatever one may think of them.

For example, I do not have to pay for ChessBase software, this goes without saying. A perk of the job. However I do pay for my graphic design software, my video editing software, my backgammon analysis software (yep), and a few others. Each and every one brings about a careful analysis of what they bring to the table, and whether they are justifiable. I bring this up after seeing similar complaints about the raised price of the latest Chessbase 17. I will not write some apologia for it, nor give you the age-old talks about costs of development, support, programmer salaries, and the usual hoopla. In the end it won't really change anything. That's the price, and you will have to decide yourself whether to buy it or upgrade to it. Instead allow me to share my thought process for such decisions, assuming the money is there at all. If it is not, well...thus endeth the debate.

Adobe software is expensive. Really expensive. It is also exceptionally good, no arguments. I do photo editing, some graphic design (mostly for thumbnails), video editing, and if I choose Adobe I will need to cough up US$40/month for the privilege, or a whopping US$480/year. This would actually make sense if I worked with clients who demanded I use them for seamless workflows on projects with their departments, or I consistently needed such advanced features that only they offered. I don't, to any of those points. After ample investigation and experimentation with their free trial periods, I settled on Affinity Designer for graphic design, which I bought outright for $25, and Wondershare Filmora for video ($40/year). They are easy to use, do everything I need and well, and are a fraction of the cost. I could easily talk myself into paying the 'Adobe tax' by telling myself they are the best, I will grow into them, I will not be restricted, they are for work, and so on. But using the trial periods of the alternatives, I came to realize they offered me all I needed and more, and were very accessible. Should I reach the point where they are holding me back, I can revisit the discussion. 

I did buy a course on Affinity Designer on Udemy to be sure I could master the tools. For $5 I got 18 hours of top notch instruction choosing the lessons according to my needs. What's not to like? I also studied every tutorial on Filmora and spent plenty of time honing my skills. In other words, I also made sure that if anything was holding me back at any point, it would not be incompetence using them.

The above makes it sound like I strongly advocate trying to stay cheap whenever possible, but it is not so. I choose my battles, and do not always go the route of the 'less expensive'. For example, my keyboards are pricey. I am typing this article with my Logitech G915 TKL keyboard, which cost me no less than $225 when I bought it. Most of my friends (all?) think this is the act of a madman or someone with too much money and not enough sense. Surely I can type on much cheaper keyboards, no?

Logitech G915 TKL - best wireless mechanical keyboard out there

Without a question, but there are other factors in play here. The first and foremost is that this is a work tool. I will be spending hours every single day using it, and for years on end. Its technical qualities and user comfort mean increased productivity for the entire time I use it, making my life easier and better. The $225 price tag is high for a keyboard, very, but it is eventually going to be spread out over those years I use it. The mechanical Brown switches (these are a type and not the color of the keys) are my favorites, and two weeks (or more) of wireless use per charge is exceptional. They are magic to my fingers, and I enjoy my interaction with them. All in all, $225 for added comfort and productivity for years on end is an awfully low price, no? An easy expenditure for the long run.

My laptop falls under a similar category, and although it is officially classified as a 'gaming' laptop, I actually make full use of its power and options in more ways than you would believe. From NN development, to AI Art (locally installed), film editing, and more. And yes, so you won't squint at me funny: I do enjoy some light gaming from time to time.

A gaming laptop made sense in view of the use I make of all its hardware

The GPU can handle all the current AAA titles, but I don't really have much time for them, even if they tempt me. I bought it on a Black Friday sale last year for $1600. It will still give me a couple of years of mileage for sure, and though I needed to have that money at all, I had planned for it, knowing the value it would give me in the long run.

In other words, if I expect extended use, such as work items, or hobby, I will be much more inclined to spend more since they will pay dividends over time. My hardware buyer guides fall into similar categories, trying to balance value with cost. 

So where does ChessBase 17 fit in this tale? It is a value choice as I see it. If you use it or plan to, and get value from your interaction with it, then instead of focusing on the one-time purchase price tag, consider it as an investment over time for your chess, pleasure, or other. If it is simply unattainable, yet you want to enjoy the family of Chessbase tools, consider the Premium Chessbase Account. You'd be amazed at how much value there is in those tools.

You can purchase the Chessbase 17 Mega Package in the Shop

It includes

  • Mega 2023 (with a year of weekly updates)
  • 6 issues of Chessbase Magazine
  • 12 months subscription to ChessBase Account Premium
  • 250 ducats

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.
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Eclipse2008 Eclipse2008 12/3/2022 05:05
Chessbase 17 is a nice upgrade to 16 though rushed to the market. One important feature they have not looked incorporating is to access chess ebooks or even read pdfs. Also, in the earlier versions CB 13/14 one was able to launch a game from the crosstable of a teams event like Olympiad but from CB 15 onwards that is not possible.
ChessTalk ChessTalk 12/3/2022 04:12
I was very disappointed with chessbase for ending comments. But the main reason for not buying into chessbase has to do with the fact it doesn't broadcast games well. This is a huge issue. I often come here to see the big games and it doesn't work right. This hurts chessbase in the pocketbook. I was once a decent player and could benefit from it's database but now I need it to broadcast the games ontime and with no bs.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 12/3/2022 12:15
Regarding "comment 2" - they DID release some killer new features! But, as with everything, YMMV.

Also, this isn't 2001 - the process is to release your new toy and 'fix little issues as needed'. I can't think of any complex software that springs fresh out of the box with no issues. Which brings me to your comment "I firmly believe that you get what you pay for". Perhaps you might do well to look at it this way - Chessbase is always quick to roll out patches. For that I am happy. I work for a very large healthcare company and only wish our IT/Developers were as responsive...

One other piece of chess software I love (but will not name) is very buggy...and the company frankly doesn't give a hoot about releasing 'fixes'. Those are the problem companies...not Chessbase.
Barthandelus Barthandelus 12/3/2022 12:15
I have used CB since version 14 - and I have to say that version 17 is absolutely the best I have used. I weighed up whether I need to upgrade from 16, and the new features were definitely there, and so I 100% think it's worth it. I knew that CB normally release in November, so I just saved up some money a few months prior.

Also, shout out to CB Support - I had a problem and they replied very fast, and two days later a patch was released for 17 that fixed my issue. To me, that added to the value of the software.
Bogotexan Bogotexan 12/2/2022 09:57
I am copying 3 comments from a user group on facebook. I understand the 3rd comment and would like for chessbase to do more testing even at the cost of increasing the price. I firmly believe that you get what you pay for.

Comment 1:

It is a bit frustrating that every November Chessbase clicks the 'add revenue' button, drops less than beta quality software on us, and then doesn't communicate with us about what known issues exist that they are working on it.

Comment 2:
You are correct, release quality is very poor. It is almost like they do little or no testing and rush the new version to market. Patches come thick and fast. Hard luck if you pay top dollar for the premium product. Unless they add some killer features, I think this might be my last upgrade for awhile (although, I am sure I say that every year...).

Comment 3:
The problem is that to perform the kind of beta testing you guys want would make the product cost at least double, and there would be complaints about the price instead. This is how every software developer does it for that reason.
Lachesis Lachesis 12/2/2022 09:48
I believe Silver eloquently articulates the justification for spending money on software in order to benefit from what they have to offer. The manner in which the software operates can make the use of it a joy instead of a bare bones pain.
svallelyuk svallelyuk 12/2/2022 08:09
Hi. with reference to your comments on photography software, can I highly recommend ON1 Raw 2023 which I use now in place of all the Adobe products I previously used. Available as a one off purchase or on subscription. Check it out
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