Dump These Gadgets

According to the The New York Times these are the gadgets you can dump for sure: desktop computer, point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, USB thumb drive, digital music player, and GPS unit.

Simplifying the number of gadgets can be a good thing. You have less things to break, to upgrade, to recharge, etc. I’ve been on a mini-quest to find the simplest, most efficient way of getting work done, communicating, and on occasion play. My iPhone 4 works as a point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, digital music player, and GPS unit. But thanks to the generous companies at conferences over the years I’ve amassed many USB thumb drives. I guess it’s time I pass them on.

I enjoy taking photographs and had the pleasure of owning big SLRs (both analog and digital) with even bigger lenses. The photos turn out really nice, but the old axiom, “The best camera is the one that’s with you,” rings true every time you get pissed you didn’t bring that honkin’ camera and instead grab your quite-capable smartphone to take a picture. Another advantage of the iPhone and other app phones is the plethora of photo apps that let you easily process your photos almost anyway you’d like. Oh, and there’s another benefit: you can share with your friends and family right there and then. Sure the photos taken by a smartphone aren’t as good as a dedicated point-and-shoot, a mirror-less, or DSLR but they are much better than nothing at all.

The desktop computer isn’t necessary for a great many of us because notebooks and sometimes mere tablets are powerful and capable enough. But I do have to mention my Mac mini. The little bugger has served us well and probably will continue to for quite some time. It takes up very little space, sips power, and generally sits there quietly working away at whatever we throw at it. I’m considering replacing the little 80GB hard drive with a SSD. I recently experimented with a SSD and I must say the little mini behaved not-so-mini.

There was one ‘maybe’ in the list: cable TV. I have two TVs but neither are connected to any TV source except for a DVD player. I think TV whether over-the-air or subscription is a waste of time and money. If you really have to follow a particular show consider Hulu, like I do. I’ve been enjoying Glee on Hulu for quite some time but I think I might need to stop the habit. The only show left is Lie To Me, but I haven’t seen a new episode in ages.

Finally there were three “keep its”: high-speed Internet at home, alarm clock, and books. Although I understand Sam Grobart’s reasons for keeping a high-speed Internet connection at home, namely unlimited data and reliability compared to other options, I think there are some points to consider. Unlimited data sounds good but it also allows us to engage the Internet in an unlimited way. Grobart:

That would work — provided that you get a strong data signal where you live; that you never intend to stream video from Netflix, YouTube or Hulu; and that you have an unlimited data plan from your wireless provider. Given all these caveats, it probably makes more sense to stick with your I.S.P.

If I dropped my ISP and relied only on the two smartphones in our home we would be forced to stream only a few videos from YouTube because of the speed and data limits. Where we live AT&T 3G signals are terrible and watching YouTube with a 2G connection is pain. Not watching YouTube videos might actually turn out to be a good thing as well as not being on tied to the Internet. ISPs will start capping data but the limits are so high for most users you’re still effectively unlimited.

The alarm clock can go, too, in my opinion. Any smartphone can work as an alarm clark even with some of the recent snafus with daylight savings time changes. By the way, can we get rid of this productivity-sapping ridiculousness called daylight savings time?