Six Gadgets I Want and Won’t Get

Like every white, American, middle-aged male, I like gadgets. It’s part of who we are – we can’t play with Legos or Star Wars figures anymore, so we buy toys people won’t laugh at us for.

The problem I have is I can’t spend the kind of money these things cost without a good, justifiable reason.

So these are 6 things I definitely want, but can’t bring myself to buy. If anyone can tell me why one of these is worth the cost of admission, I’ll reconsider it.

[Note: “It’s cool” is not a reason to buy something. I worked with someone who used to believe that – and everyone thinks he’s an asshole.]

1) iPad


The iPad is pretty, versitile, and easy to travel. But it has a lot going against it in my opinion. There’s a lot it won’t do – no camera, no Flash support, no USB ports. You can’t replace the battery, and the onscreen keyboard is useless if you actually know how to type. Also the largest available amount of hard drive space is less than my iPod.

But at least it only costs twice as much as a comparable netbook.

2) HP Touchscreen laptop

HP Touchsmart tx2

This was my logical next guess at a good touchscreen after the iPad. It does everything an iPad does, and also lets me do things on it I can easily port over to my PC. The problem here is that non-Apple touchscreens have a bad history of failing over time. The sensitivity fails after enough usage, leaving you with a laptop that cost too much in the first place.

3) Blu-Ray

DVD vs Blu-Ray

Yes, it’s clearer and brighter, but not so much it’s worth the expense. I’d be more inclined to invest in something that makes streaming content sharper. Otherwise, DVD quality is fine until Blu-Ray manages to be as cheap.

4) iPhone 4

iPhone 4

This should hopefully show I’m not an Apple hater, because I really do want one. (Though I wish they made one with a physical keyboard – touch screen keys suck!) But having just gone through months of investigation of various plans, none of the major carriers are worth what they charge. Even if the iPhone was available on Verizon, I wouldn’t pay Verizon prices just for the privilege.

In Europe cell phone models aren’t tied to carriers – when are we going to get that smart? I’m sure if I could get an iPhone with any of the carriers, they’d finally have competitive prices.

5) iPod Touch

iPod Touch

Everything you have in an iPhone except the ability to place calls. I like that! It’s like having an iPhone, but you don’t have to pay AT&T, or curse their name for awful call quality!

I won’t get one, though, because I still have my 3 year old iPod Classic, which has 80GB of storage, and I’m using almost all of it. When it dies, I know I’ll replace it with another iPod that has more storage.

6) Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder

Zoom h4n

A whah?

It’s a handheld audio recorder for recording podcasts on the go, or bootlegging concerts. I suppose you could use it to record demos of your band too, but I don’t have a band so I don’t care about that functionality.

But it’s also $300. Unless I’m actually going to sell that concert bootleg, there’s no reason for it. I can just plug a very inexpensive USB mic into a laptop and pocket the rest.

iPad Mobile Marketing – The NEXT next new thing

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A bunch of people at work have iPads this week. They are neat, and frankly I’m interested in getting one myself.

Then I read that there will soon be a Nokia Tablet, and Kindle is playing up their head start in content to compete with Apple. So we could be entering the Age of the Tablet.

But wait – aren’t we supposed to be entering the Age of the SmartPhone? Isn’t THAT supposed to be the dominant technology? What if by next year the phones are passé, and it’s these tablets that are the thing that will “change the game?”

And wasn’t SMS supposed to change the game before the smart phones came about?

I’ve been pretty vocal in the last year about saying that the mobile market just hasn’t arrived enough yet to justify large amounts of marketing money from businesses. I said this with the caveat that, someday, and likely soon, it will be important enough to require as much of a spend as one’s Internet budget. Just not yet.

Now I wonder, perhaps by 2011 the mobile market will get about as big as it can get, because tablets will come in to replace them as the “must have” for electronics consumers. Then we will forget all about this smart phone nonsense to concentrate on the real prize: Tablet users!

I wonder about this because it’s exactly what everyone did when we thought text messaging was the way of the future. SMS is still a viable marketing tactic, but it’s shrinking all the time in favor of mobile apps. It peaked. And we don’t really know if smart phones have now peaked – which is another great reason to hold off on paying for a mobile campaign!

If that’s all true, could this mean that each new successive platform can only get so high before it’s replaced?

For example, what would happen if by 2015, tablets were as widespread as smart phones are now. (Which still isn’t very much, but a lot none the less.) Then some company (oh, okay – Apple) develops a portable computing solution that you wear like glasses. This is technology that’s already being experimented with, and if they can get it so people can use these without puking, it could be huge.

Imagine: Instead of a screen it fires the image directly onto your retina; It is fully voice activated; And you can make phone calls on it, take pictures, make change for the bus, bring us peace with honor in Vietnam…

Something like that would have a slow start, eventually kill the tablet market, and would itself be topped by some OTHER technology by 2020. (If we’re following the cycle.)

If we can count on that kind of timeline – unveiling, adoption, replacement – then we know how soon we need to get advertising on some new piece of technology, and how long we have to play it before we need to start realocating ad dollars to the next big thing.

So maybe apps for phones right now is worth spending on, because it isn’t likely to get any better?

Yet another reaction to the iPad

Steve Jobs unveiling the iTouch Macro

It is not technically possible for you to have gotten to this post without having heard from someone that Apple released it’s entry into the tablet market yesterday, the iPad. It’s impossible because news of it is everywhere, and I just don’t have that kind of reach to have gotten to you first. So I won’t bother recapping.

I will say the negative reaction has been weirdly huge. Everything from jokes about the name, (the hashtag “#itampon” was huge on Twitter yesterday,) to complaints about what the thing doesn’t have, (camera, Flash support, the ability to make phone calls,) are making even the most hardcore Apple fanboys cry.

I’m not an Apple guy – I don’t have a problem with their stuff, but I don’t own a Macbook or an iPhone or an iTouch. I’ve had the same iPod for three years now, with no need or hope of replacing it. That having been said, I recognize that Apple is brilliant at defining new markets, and frankly the iPad will do just that.

Everyone has been, for some reason, running to Kindles in the last few years. I don’t get it, because I like reading books on paper myself. But a burgeoning market has opened up, and Apple is now stepping into it. This is just like what they did when they debuted the iPod: MP3 players were everywhere, then Apple came in and redefined the standard. It’s also what they did for smart phones, which were very rare before they came out with the iPhone. They aren’t trying to give you a newer version of something you already have, which frankly really would annoy me. Instead, they’re trying to improve upon what you already have.

The iPad is getting slammed, I think, because most of the people slamming it have no use for what it does. Fine. But that doesn’t mean it sucks, it just means it isn’t meant for you. Not everything is, you crybaby. Given what people say they want to use this for, I think most of them were hoping for a completely touch screen laptop.

The one complaint I do understand is that it will finally cripple AT&T’s data network. AT&T was the single worst possible service provider Apple could have ever tied themselves to. They’d already started asking iPhone users to take it easy with their use of the data service they were actually paying for. Think of that – people were paying for AT&T data service, and AT&T was asking them to not use so much of the data service that their customers were giving them money to use… the bald-faced chutzpah of that always screws me up.

And now Apple has a new wireless device that’s going to need to use the same network. Hey – maybe AT&T are the ones getting everyone to bitch about how the iPad is crap! Because if it does succeed, they may have to finally throw in the towel and admit they don’t know what they’re doing.