Friday, February 12, 2010

What Are Your Tech Essentials?

What are your essential pieces of technology?
I began wondering if I was to whittle down my tech possessions to just three items, what would they be. I think we could easily live without the television/projector (we don't subscribe to cable and depend on streaming media or iTunes at this time, but probably average somewhere in the ballpark of 2 hours of viewing). I just purchased a GPS unit, but this is more of insurance for travel than a necessity. I love my vintage home audio system, but to be honest, both Emily and I listen to most of our music collection from a digital source instead of from the collection of vinyl we've held onto. So when it comes down to it, the three home tech or appliance I've deemed essential in my life are:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Canon S90 digital camera
  • iPod Touch
Between those three devices, I've got home audio, video, gaming, communications, online connection and various other functions covered. Two of the three also are actual necessities for my professional field, so they made the cut by default. I could probably even drop the Touch off that list, as the functions are redundant with the inclusion of a laptop. So a camera and a computer...those are the only two things I now realize are real necessities in the scope of my personal and professional life. Huh...and this whole time I thought I just had to have that panini press and 12 remote controls.

If you were to boil down your tech possessions to three essential items, which would they be?

Below are what I consider to be my tech essentials in order of priority. My shortlist would be similar:

  • ThinkPad X61. (I'd love to eventually replace this with a MacBook Pro.)  In addition to computing, it could easily replace my DVD player for my TV.
  • iPhone. Quite possibly the best gadget I’ve ever owned.  While I could live without an iPhone easier than I could without a computer of some sort, this is a close #2.
  • Canon PowerShot SD1000. (I also have a DSLR, but if I could only have one camera, I'd probably chose a pocket-sized one that I'd carry all the time. If I had my druthers, right now it would be a Canon S90.)
My second tier would include:
  • 52-inch Samsung HDTV. I often use this as my computer monitor at home. Unlike the rest of the list, it is also something that can be used/enjoyed by more than one person at a time. Plus it looks really cool in my small studio apartment.
  • Amazon Kindle. An absolute joy to read on.  With this in my bag, I am never without a library of books to read.  It’s slim enough it takes up very little space.  Great for transferring papers I am both reading and writing.  (TIP: Transfer papers you write over to the Kindle and use the text-to-speech feature to have it read it back to you.  Great way to get feedback on your writing.)  Also being lightweight and easy to read in sunlight, the Kindle is perfect for reading while walking.
Tier three would be:
  • GPS. I proved to myself on my recent trip to Orlando that my iPhone works just fine (comparable to my Garmin) as a GPS using MotionX GPS Drive. However, the 99-cent program (plus $5 per month after 30-day trial) requires a data connection to operate. Also your navigation can get messed up if you receive a call while following GPS directions.  Of the items on this list, this is the one I use the least.  (Living eight blocks from school and two blocks from the subway, I rarely drive anymore.)  However, whenever I do drive, I find it indispensible.
  • Netbook.  My Asus 901 can fulfill 90% of my computing needs.  There are times when it gets too slow that it inhibits my productivity, but for most tasks it does just fine.  It gets about 5-7 hours of battery life (compared to 1 hour on my Lenovo) and is half the size of my ThinkPad.  Most days, I throw this into my bag and leave my ThinkPad at home.
Finally, tier four would include:
  • My Digital SLR. It takes better pictures than my pocket camera, with better battery life and superior performance -- not to mention the ability to expand with new lenses, flashes, etc.  My goal for this year is to bump my DSLR up a tier or two on this list.
  • My 24-inch computer monitor. Nice for working at my desk, but getting less use than it did before I started hooking up my laptop to the Samsung TV.  Still, it’s wonderful to have – especially when I’m working on programming projects in Python, taking notes while researching, and for blogging.
If I had to, I could reduce down to the first three. Not having to, I appreciate having all nine.  I love the philosophy of owning nothing not useful or beautiful.  In keeping with that, I use nearly all of these (other than my GPS and cameras) on a daily basis.  And the TV adds a nice aesthetic to my tiny apartment.


Ali Hasanain said...

Macbook (or any good laptop)
are my essential pieces of electronic tech

Next up are my external monitor, printer, and shredder, in that order. I would love to replace the latter two with a PlasticLogic Que at some point.

I would never take a Touch over an iPhone, and while it is nice to have a camera like the S90, it certainly isn't an essential for me.

C# said...

I don't know if i can live w/o my iphone anymore.. would be very lost... that would be the only essential item!

not to top you, but having an x200 is quite nice tho, I'm on my way to replace my dead mac.....

thinking said...

It's amazing how Apple products seem to make it on to most people's lists...

Apple is shaping the entire consumer electronic landscape.

Ali Hasanain said...

If the question is: "if you could pick two devices, which would they be?", then the Macbook and iPhone are my current choices.

If the question is: "Which two devices are essential?" (which I believe it is), then the answer is more general: a good laptop and a good phone. I prefer my Macbook and iPhone to my old Dell and Samsung, but the difference is marginal, not pivotal.

Kevin said...

Tier One -- A good hunting knife and some matches?? ;-P

Jeff said...

I didn't know if "The Setup" interviews hit your radar. If not, you should check 'em out.