Disclaimer: Please don’t throw out gadgets. If your current gadget works, keep using it, or gift it to someone you know. Nobody want it? Donate it. Just don’t throw em out – electronics waste is at an all-time high, and recent reports put a dubious spectre over the merits of recycling them. Remember: you probably don’t need a new gadget, you probably just want one.
If you’re even close to being a “gadget guy” (gadget person?), you probable own: a laptop, MP3 player, digital camera, cell phone, bluetooth headset, gaming console, computer speakers, flatscreen TV, DVR, GPS, camcorder, DVD player, printer, router, and possibly more. Some of the gadgets we’ve bought over the years are still holding up just fine, others (like your Startac) probably get you a little teasing from time to time. Here’s a handy little guide to help you decide what you may want to pick up this holiday season (black friday anyone?).
- MP3 player (with hard drive): I still swear by my Rio Karma as the best one ever made, but it really is out of date. If you are constantly erasing music just to make room for other mixes, you could probably do with a newer unit.
- MP3 player (flash memory): Pretty much the same rule of thumb as above. Also, instead of just rushing out to buy an iPod, take a look at the new Sansa units too. And then buy an iPod.
- Digital camera: This is probably a good “needs an update” category. I recommend having something in the 5-8 megapixel range, with image stabilization. Beyond that is really unnecessary for a point-and-click camera (and I’m no DSLR expert, so you should check out Thomas Hawk’s blog for better advice)
- Cell phone: Aside from vanity factor, if your phone makes calls, has good coverage and good battery life, and can send/receive text messages, there’s no need to upgrade. If you aren’t in high school, your cell phone doesn’t make you cool, and there’s nothing “unique” about having an iPhone…
- Bluetooth headset: if people constantly say to you “are you on your stupid headset?” then you might want to think about an upgrade. I recommend picking a retailer that will let you return it, so you can try something til you like it. The Jawbone and Sound ID headsets are my two picks if you need a recommendation.
- Gaming console: If your console rhymes with “ShmeamCast”, “Jimtendo 64”, “Naystation 2”, “Bolecovision” or “Henesis”, you need to upgrade. Get an Xbox 360.
- DVD player: You should have an upscaling DVD player, you do not need Blu-Ray (and never will).
- Flatscreen TV: If you have a HDTV display, you are still good. No need for 1080p (yet, maybe next year this’ll start to change, but that’s pretty doubtful).
- GPS: If you don’t have one, get a Nuvi. If you do have one, enjoy.
- Camcorder: Unless you have some very specific purpose, the new Flip MinoHD is probably the most awesomest thing you can get. That said, your digital camera probably does a good enough job as it is for most personal use short videos.
- DVR/Set-top box: If it supports HD, you’re all set. If it doesn’t, call your cable company, get an upgrade.
- Backup Device: YOU MUST HAVE A BACKUP HARD DRIVE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Get a spare USB HDD or a ReadyNAS (or other) for your network, and use it!
- Laptop: If you have my Vaio, try to sell it. If your laptop is more than 3 years old, and a few keys fell off the keyboard, it’s probably due for a replacement. I recommend the 2nd-to-the-bottom-end MacBook, and I’m sure there are some good Windows options these days, but I don’t know what they are.
- Printer: If printing something out sounds eerily reminiscent of a loose fanbelt from a 1972 Oldsmobile, go get a new inexpensive printer.
- Router: 802.11g is a must have. I’m trying out the D-Link DIR-855 now, but also like the NETGEAR Rangemax line. For the “go-to workhorse reliable easy-to-use router”, I recommend the Linksys WRT54G.
Any other recommendations I should add to the list?