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Gadget Addiction

Addict My name is Bill… and I am a gad-ja-holic. Yes. There. I’ve said it. :)

As far as addictions go, this one is only malignant when considered in the context of wealth building. Buying hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of electronics (the only thing in the photo that actually exceeded $1000 in a single purchase was the Macbook,) does not facilitate that which is known as “saving.” But I’ve been fortunate to make enough money to hide most of the excesses.

So, it’s not so much a dissatisfaction with the financial impact of gadgetry as much as it is a sense of waste. Gadgets have a short useful life, largely because most depend on batteries which deteriorate over a few years or because they rely on software which is abandoned by manufacturers and thus falls behind in usefulness as the rest of the world moves on.

The photo fails to show all the other gadgets I have stashed in my box of obsolete toys. I’ve got a working Virtual Boy, a pair of old Cybiko toys (nifty wireless things but not particularly useful,) a Sony Ericsson P800 with a smashed screen (a common problem,) an ancient Thinkpad 486 with the fancy butterfly keyboard, a T-Mobile SDA with a smashed screen, and thinks which I can’t recall yet haunt my housecleaning nightmares. Gathering up all the bits that cannot be thrown in the trash and taking them to the proper disposal facilities is a nightmare in itself.

Most of the stuff was bought to satisfy a particular “utility gap.” Most of the mobile phones and PDAs were intended to facilitate on-the-road email, comprehensive web access, and remote administration without lugging around a laptop. The PSP and the Nintendo DS are for entertainment, but don’t see much action in this house – most were purchased in hopes of social play that never materialized. Cameras hold great promise, and the Canon DSLR is fairly old now, but gets used. The Konica DLSR was a novel camera and has served us well, but sees less light in favor of the tiny Casio which slips by the ignorant rent-a-cops who insist on harassing photographers. Calculators are cool, and when in the midst of a project have their uses, but were mostly for school and now are not so interesting. Phones are a perennial problem – although the iPhone has ended the quest for now. Don’t ask about the Sony Mylo. It actually works as advertised and makes a pretty useful Skype phone and a passable MP3 player. If you live in an open WiFi-rich area, it would actually work out fairly well. My apartment isn’t big enough to justify having a dedicated Skype phone, however, and I can do IM on just about every other device in the house.

Without exception, everything in the photograph works, and most of it works with near-original battery life.

I’m actually interested in selling most of it, save for the Canon, Nokia e62, Casio Exilim, and the iPhone.

My employer provides me with a slightly nicer Macbook (the Core 2 Duo rather than the Core Duo pictured,) and I have fairly unrestricted Internet access at the office, including WiFi. It seems silly to have two laptops, and I rarely carry either of them around town. The iPhone fills the gap for most functions, and remote access to work can generally wait until I get home (or to the office,) as I generally stay in the City.

The Nokia n800 is a fantastic bit of kit, but I don’t have time to plumb its depths and it would be much happier with someone who did. The keyboards are neat, the laser keyboard is especially novel, but I simply don’t find myself in situations where I need it. I don’t tend to find myself hanging out in a coffee shop tapping on the table as much as I used to.

The Upstage Phone is great if you’re into that sort of thing, but now that I have Internet access at the office as well as most everywhere else, it makes little sense to pay so much every month for 3G wireless. I don’t travel enough to justify the expense and can do something creative the next time I’m on a train for long. It’s actually a great little music player if you’re not already encumbered with an iPod.

Do I have buyer’s remorse? It doesn’t feel that way. I do feel as though I’ve learned a lot about a lot of different technologies on the market, but found that one reaches saturation very quickly – especially in an age where convergence is effective. The iPhone’s lack of useful data tethering for a laptop is an issue, but otherwise it neatly fills most of my mobile data needs.

I have a Wii at the house, which has facilitated more social gaming than the DS or the PSP (most of my friends don’t tend to get together for wireless gaming with their portable gaming devices.)

If you have any interest in buying any of this stuff, I’d rather deal with folks I know who can use the stuff. If you’re a friend of mine, the prices would be better than you’d find on eBay.

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