andrew-edc-2What in this photo is most worth carrying around? The watch? The measuring tool? Other objects? Similar questions arise with my electronic gadgets. Which mean the most to me?

Chris Meadows, TeleRead’s editor, did a great write-up recently about the many different gizmos he owns which are e-book-capable. We live in a time of tech plenty. I remember paying $250 on Craigslist for my first precious Kindle and being happy I scored such a deal. Now, I have five gadgets that can read books, some of which I didn’t even buy for their book features.

How, then, to approach the issue of their usefulness? I certainly did not intend to hoard such an arsenal. Could I downsize? I most certainly could. I am not going to pitch out something I have already. But if I were starting again—if I had to rebuy everything tomorrow—what would I willingly pay to acquire again? The results may surprise you. Yes, I’d welcome your thoughts on gadget priorities. For now, here’s my list. 

1) Computer

We need at least one working computer in our house. The Beloved is fine with the lowest of the low, since all he does is surf eBay and play podcasts. He is currently using my old MacBook. As for my new MacBook, I am perfectly happy with it. However, a recent accident befell it and it will be costly to fix. I am contemplating selling it as is and using the proceeds to buy a cheap Windows machine.

My Mac has fallen victim to cheaper prices. When I bought it, I paid for some upgrades, hoping I could make it last a couple of years. At current prices, I could buy about four basic but name-brand Windows laptops for the same price. If each lasts just three years, that gives me 12 years of computing before I hit the price point of a new Mac. I do like the Mac OS better. But for what I do, I could most certainly meet my needs more cheaply. Sorry, MacBook Air—you don’t get a rebuy.

2) Phone

I love my iPhone and I would pay the Apple price premium to keep it. I am getting used to Android and appreciate some of its features, such as the ability to side-load apps. But the battery life on my iPhone is vastly superior. I need a battery that can go all day. And since phones are subsidized by cell phone carriers here, I didn’t have to pay out of pocket for it. The iPhone stays!

3) Full-Size Tablet

We are a two-tablet house here, and will likely stay that way for one vital reason: FaceTime. I know the multi-platform Skype can achieve much the same purpose, but we have a young relative who comes from an Apple home and relies on FaceTime to keep in touch with us. And I like to have a full-size tablet for working on the go, especially if I replace my MacBook with a less portable model. So the iPad Air stays.

4) Mini Tablet

We have two right now—the Acer Iconia and the Fire Tablet. This was a tricky one for me. I like them both and am happy to have them, but if we were buying again, we would likely not have two. So, here is my decision:

If the Fire Tablet has arrived in Canada by then and I could buy it retail, it wins. It’s just such a great price point, and I love the six-pack concept, where for the price of an iPad, I could outfit my whole house.

However—right now, you can only get these in the USA, and the shipping doubles the price. So, in the category of $100-150 tablets as opposed to $50 ones, the Acer is very nice. It is comfortable to read on. It is comfortable to hold on my hands. It is, admittedly, a nicer machine than the Fire. If I could get the $50 one, I would, but it wins only on the price issue. Absent that, I would buy the Acer again, no question.

5) E Ink Reader

I have a very nice Kindle Paperwhite. I almost never use it these days. I read on my iPad when I have a break at school, and I read on my mini tablets at home. As they have gotten lighter and smaller, they have become comfortable to hold and to use.

My Paperwhite is nicer to read on. I used it on the bus the other day and was reminded of just how nice. But I find I tend to read these days when I need a break from doing something else I am already doing on a tablet. So it’s easy for me to fire up the Kindle app and off we go. The Paperwhite is nicer, but I am often too lazy to switch devices.

I asked the Beloved if I should try and sell it. He said keep it for now. It may not be worth much on the resale market, and it could be handy for vacations. I recently took a 10-hour train ride that a tablet would struggle to last for. And E Ink is nicer to read on. But I don’t think I would pay to buy it again, as this point.


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