One of the things about being a guy who’s fairly deeply immersed in technology -who frequently tests electronics, gadgets, gizmos, gear and games- is that there’s a certain expectation among some people that the inside of my home resembles an aisle in Best Buy. I’ll be the first to admit that I do love my electronics and frequently suffer from so-called gadget lust, but this is offset by a frequently annoying practical streak. So, yes, in some ways parts of my house may indeed resemble a section in an electronics store, but often from a snapshot in time -as likely as not, several years in the past.
Ken wrote about gadget lust back in October, and I have to agree with most of his observations. I also follow much of his methodology in terms of selecting new gear, however, there is another factor at play that I often fall victim to: early adopter disease. I’m not talking about lining up for the latest “must-have” gizmo just because hype has made it a “must-have.” In fact, I absolutely abhor line-ups and will do just about anything humanly possible to avoid standing in one. The issue is that I tend to pick up devices early in their life cycle because they do pass the series of tests that validate their value. I don’t stand in line, (or pre-order online), I sit back and wait for the reviews to come in and, where possible, snag a review unit myself. I’m a relatively tech-savvy person and when I look at one of these devices, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that in a year or so, a new and improved version will be released. However, I weigh the value of having a year’s worth of utility out of the object and then tack on the likelihood that I’ll pass my first generation device onto one of my kids and upgrade later on, then take the plunge.
The problem is that nine times out of ten, a few years later I’m still using that device and everyone around me is looking at me sideways because I’m the “plugged in” tech guy who’s using an outdated product. Which simply doesn’t fit the stereotype. I’m frequently called upon by acquaintances to recommend specific gear, but I’m seldom using it myself. The problem is once I really incorporate a device into my routine and it does the job I want it to do, the practicality really kicks in and there has to be a compelling reason to replace it. A really compelling reason.
As a result, I spend most of my day working on a three and a half year old 24″ iMac, while my brother (who recently bought his first computer in a decade) is rocking a shiny new 27″ iMac. Even my mother in law scored a 27″ iMac -loaded up with 16GB of RAM no less- for Christmas. I still carry a first generation iPod Touch, while the iPad went to my wife. She’ll get far more use out of it. The new MacBook Airs look incredible, but my first generation version still serves me well. My big ‘ole 40GB Playstation 3 died a few months ago and in a way, I wasn’t too upset. After all, I’d had years of great gaming from it, but the new versions are half the size, with eight times the storage space. The death of the original would justify buying a replacement. However, Sony was able to resuscitate the beast, and it likely has a few years of life yet, so it remains hogging space in the entertainment cabinet. My flatscreen TVs were bought as feature set and size increased, while price decreased, with careful planning that justified replacing the old tube sets throughout the house in a scheme of transitioning. However, now that everything has been in place for a year or two, sets are bigger, thinner, greener and half the price. Oh well. I’m happy with what we have and see no reason to replace any of them (especially for a feature like 3-D), but compared to current technology sets, these things look like dinosaurs. Until one physically breaks down or something so compelling I can’t ignore it is released, we’ll stick with the TV that’s three times as thick as current sets. I’ve fully adopted e-books for well over a year now and many of those around me have subsequently made the transition, often purchasing hardware that I’ve suggested. My father-in-law is rocking a very nice new Sony Reader that makes mine look bloated, small-screened and decidedly old, but I don’t care. Even my daughter has a new version with a bigger display, better contrast and lighter weight. Mine still works perfectly and while a slightly bigger screen, more svelte form factor, sightly higher contrast and a little more onboard storage would be nice, they aren’t must-haves.
One notable thing I did upgrade this year? Snow shovels. With the dumping we received in December, I finally broke the handle on my faithful shovel and upgraded to not one, but two, ergonomic models.