When Does It Pay to Trade Up Your Technology?

When Apple introduced its newest laptops last month, the company bragged about faster processors, dazzling graphics, new connectivity and a better camera. But all these improvements–to a series of computers that was already by most accounts pretty good–left some critics with a pointed question: Who really needs all that?

It’s a question that nags the tech industry with almost every new advancement. But experts say the pitch for faster, more tricked-out technology has reached a new peak.

Here, in four categories, is what you need–and what you don’t.

Broadband. Most Internet service providers now offer different levels of high-speed connectivity. If you want to stream TV shows or movies, play games or download big files, you may need more juice. Ditto if you have an entire household that’s trying to get online after dinner. Before you change plans, however, make sure you’re actually getting the speed that your provider promised. You can assess the speed of your current connection via a free test website such as Speakeasy.net or Speedtest.net.

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