Today marks the much awaited announcement of the Apple iPad. Considering that people’s mouths were watering over the non-event of the iPhone 3G S launch last year, the arrival of the tablet is garnering, as many have observed, the type of interest reserved only for other tablets delivered to the masses several millenia ago (though made out of stone).

Money is tight in 2010, so with a sense of sadness and impatience, we must often wait to own our beloved new gadget. Or we dip into college or retirement savings. The Onion hilariously captured our lemming-like excitement over new gadgets in this piece from December ’09.

But consider this: you can add life to your existing gadget for little money, and have a sense of a new machine. I recommend the Gadget Spa Day, having done this recently with my iPhone.  For instance:

1. Put a new screen protector in place. I prefer a matte finish so my fingerprints and face don’t muck up an otherwise beautiful machine. Learn how to place the screen on correctly and avoid trapping dust and making bubbles. It requires a little dexterity, and perhaps the technique is worthy of its own post.  But if you get frustrated, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “Yes we can!”.

2. Get a new protective case. Let’s face it. iPhone cases get scratched up easily and look nasty quickly. And that zebra pattern your using? SO 2009. I love the new iFrogz case I purchased, which is mostly hard plastic with a small rubberish section to keep it from sliding off smooth surfaces.

3. Clean up your apps. When’s the last time you played the bubble wrap or toilet paper game? If you or the kids haven’t used an app in a month, kill it, even if you paid for it.  The Rocket Matter iPhone version is the only exception to this rule. Once you’re done, apply all the updates so you don’t have to stare at the annoying red number on the App Store icon.

Computer Spa Day

When you’re working on your actual systems, you can give them a performance boost just by turning off the amount of programs that run on startup. You’ll boot faster and run faster. Just be careful you don’t turn off anything important, like printer drivers or something.  But c’mon, do you really need Quicktime and Java scanning for updates? Do Skype and Scansnap Manager really need to launch when your system does?

Windows users can go to Start->Run…, then type “msconfig” and type on the “Startup” tab. Don’t turn off anything important.  When in doubt, leave it.

Mac users can go to System Preferences -> Accounts, highlight an account, click Login Items, then remove the items you don’t want on the list.

Another way to revamp on Spa Day? Clean up your destkop. Remove icon clutter safely by reading this post. Get some cool new wallpaper. There are plenty of free sites, including Desktopography, Simple Desktops, or Interface Lift.

It’s like a fresh coat of paint for your trusted machine.  You don’t have to waste time migrating data, you don’t get stuck with version one of the latest gadget, and you save a little dough as well.

Would love to hear your Gadget Spa Day tips!  Leave a comment so we can hear your rejuvenation tips and tricks.