Let’s face it: lots of gadgets are disappointing. They’re too hard to use or don’t do what you expect or aren’t worth the expense. The problem is that it can be hard to tell the difference between marketing hype and reality. It can also be difficult to recognize bad execution of a good idea before you buy. And with technology changing so fast, it is really tough to know when upgrading is worth it.
This survey covers five sure bets in the world of gadgets. These are gadgets that we think most people would love. You may have some of them. As for ones you don’t have, we tell you why you’d want them. Some of the gadgets you have may need upgrading.
Amazon Kindle Electronic Reader
What It Does:
The Kindle can download and display electronic books, newspapers and magazines. You can download from your PC or the Kindle can download items over any EVDO (cell phone) connection. Items are backed up at Amazon so if you lose or break your Kindle, you still have your library.
What’s To Like:
The Kindle gets the major elements of a book reader right. Text is very clear and easy to read. The display is not backlit, which might sound like a disadvantage until you try it. In practice, the display works very well in bright sunlight and is about as usable in low light (e.g. reading in bed or on a plane at night) as a print magazine or newspaper. The Kindle is small (about the size of a thin paperback), so carrying it while traveling is easy. Battery life is long (15–25 hours). We found the subscription feature to be a big bonus. When you are on the road (or at home), you leave the Kindle plugged in with wireless turned on. When you wake up, the New York Times or Wall Street Journal or Le Monde is waiting for you. Weekly or monthly magazines load automatically, too, so when you’re running out the door to catch a flight you don’t have to remember to do anything. If you are mid-trip and want a new book, you can order it from the Kindle and download it in seconds (and because it uses EVDO, you can download almost anywhere that advanced cell phones work, not just at hotspots).
Amazon offers over 185,000 titles. Many are cheaper than their print equivalents. They have an ample list of newspapers, blogs, and magazines, too.
It doesn’t have a color display. This will come in a few years, and you’ll want to upgrade then, but the current product is very usable. It won’t do video or surf the Web. Adding those capabilities would give you a laptop and then battery life would be short, the product would weigh five times as much, etc.
$359, plus the cost of books, newspapers and magazines.