Modern tech gadgets: do we really need all this?
I was reading recently an article/post on a non-english forum related to cell phones. The writer was expressing the opinion that modern smartphones are superfluous and most people buy them just because they are the latest trend. But is that really so?
As always, there is no black or white here. The latest gadgest, tablets, smartphones, netbooks, anything, all do similar things but come in different form factors and vary in their capabilities. Some people claim they don’t need a portable device other than a 5 year old phone with a basic GPRS connection. Perhaps for those people such a device is indeed more than enough.
There is another category of consumers though that need something more. The needs vary. Company execs need quick access to the corporate mail servers and organizing facilities. Social networking users want real time notifications and access to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Others want to listen to music while they commute, or play games, watch videos. Some use the in-built GPS to guide them to some obscure address in a city. A dumbphone does little of the above, and what it does it does so in a limited fashion.
Not everyone will use 100% of the capabilities of such devices, but chances are they will use some. The trick here is to realize what are your needs. There are plenty of mobile devices to choose from, from very cheap smartphone with tiny screens to huge ones with multicore CPUs, then there are the various Tablets. The whole market of mobile devices is evolving rapidly, I find it resembles the market of Personal Computers until a few years ago.
Back then, there was always a need for upgrades at least once per year, or the latest software wouldn’t run efficiently. But even then, it all depended on what you were using. Gamers are the ones that need the latest hardware, the rest of the bunch never needed it. And the PC market has now slowed down considerably, even the software companies have adjusted to that and most games can run even in 5 year old PCs.
Back to the mobile devices, the rapid speed with which those platforms evolve makes it look like your once new mobile device is now obsolete and with much lower specs. But only a few months passed since you bought it! This compels a certain group of people to look for an upgrade they don’t really need. Usually, they are young at age and easily impressed with specs, mere numbers. To them it’s like a competition, which always ends up to the classic argument: “Mine is bigger!”.
I used to be like them, but after some point you come to realize that you don’t need the latest and greatest, you only need something that covers your usage pattern sufficiently. If you care not about social networking and all you do is making calls, a plain feature phone is enough for you. But for the rest of the bunch, a more advanced device will make our life easier.
Yes, we can live without them, I remember a time I had to carefully arrange meetings by using a landline, and if something were to happen in the mean time, everything went wrong. It was a time without cellphones. But who would go back to those times? Everything moves on, and we have to adjust to it on a needs basis. People who buy smartphones only because they are trendy and then go to the forums and ask why the damn thing accessed the net and it charged them are the ones who never should have bought one, because simply they have no idea what they bought.
Technology is only a thing to make our lives easier, not to pursue it for the sake of technology itself, or worse, trying to show off. In those cases, you are only a victim that the tech companies will exploit as best they can.hat doesn’t mean one shouldn’t upgrade, just that you shouldn’t do it without really needing it.
When I bought my first smartphone I had already thought for what I would use it, and I still use it for the same basic reasons. Anything else it can do is welcome, but it’s something I could live without. At some point I will change to a better one, but only when I can no longer install on it new apps (because of obsolete specs or OS) or the apps run too slow. Something that will happen over time, but not in the immediate future. Just like with PCs, never buy a new one before you need it, because they continuously evolve, the catching up game has no end and no winner.
The above are just my personal opinions, formed after many years of buying and using computers and mobile phones.