This is gearing up to be one nightmare Holiday season. I say this in the sense that there are too many gadgets to purchase and it is looking like it is going to break everyone’s bank accounts. We happen to be in what occurs only once in a while; when new devices of different categories converge at their launch cycles on a single season… everyone demands the consumer’s attention, everyone wants you to purchase their products. The worst part of it is that these gadgets are not cheap!
We are not talking about a few me-too Android devices or the yearly iPad evolution released this year although there is plenty of that too. We are talking about devices in different categories, providing different features that are starting to cross-over into each other’s categories. And, we are left right in the middle, trying to decide if and what to purchase. This opens up for brand new opportunities where we can consolidate devices and reduce costs.
New and interesting devices this season include Smartphones of all kinds and OS’s, PCs Windows 8.1 and MacOS Computers; Tablets: Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 RT, Kindle, Android and iOS and then to top it all off, we have the once-in-a-decade launch of Gaming Consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
If you are a reviewer, this is no big deal, you probably have a sizeable budget that will get you through devices like no one else. You, have the key to gadget-nirvana. You are the envy of the gadget-masses. If you are a gadget enthusiast, like I am, you are in for a rough season. Get ready because you will have to go through a serious look at why it is that you need each gadget you are looking to buy and can you eliminate gadget clutter, overlap and redundancy so that in the process of doing that, you can save some money.
If you are reading this article, chances are you are in the gadget-enthusiast category and you may have a more limited, down-to-earth budget. If you have a huge budget, knock yourself out, but if you don’t, you need to optimize your spending in order to get the most out of it… should you cut through your Holiday gifting to others so you can purchase for yourself? That would certainly put you in the naughty list… and have some retaliatory consequences from your friends and family! 😉
No sir, we are not talking about that! But what do you do about it?
Your main computing device:
Desktops, Laptops and Tablets have the most overlap in functionality: consolidate. You can reduce device clutter by eliminating your desktop (if you still have one at home). Go with a single device that allows you to take it with you when you need to but is powerful enough to help you complete all the tasks you need (or want) to complete from home. A tablet may not sound as a powerful device. This is a myth. Most people use their computers for emails, browsing and a few financial tools. This can be done from any of these types of devices. Additionally, a hybrid tablet can be used both as a laptop or a tablet and most tablets can be extended into the form of a desktop by using external monitor(s), a bluetooth keyboard and a mouse. Plugable (a USB hub manufacturer) demoed Dell’s Venue 8 Pro tablet (a Windows Pro 8.1 tablet) extended into 4 monitors at once plus keyboard and mouse with great performance on video and apps open in multiple screens. Mind you, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a $299-$349 tablet. A hybrid tablet you should check out is the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. Prices range between $899-$1,799. This hybrid device can be used and carried as a lighter than usual ultralight laptop while having all the features of a full blown Desktop PC that comes in the form of a tablet. Some people even get by with an Android, iPad or Windows RT 8.1 device. However, iPads and Android tablets are still somewhat limited and they are still seen as “PC companion” devices. Meaning that these are meant to be used as a companion device to your main PC.
Smartphones are released throughout the year. You can probably hold off waiting for the next best thing till January, February or even six months down the road (if you want to optimize your budget). Besides, you probably signed a two year agreement with your current cell carrier, so you will be better served waiting until it expires and you can buy the discounted price. Just beware of those new plans advertised as “get a new smartphone every year”. They look enticing and convenient but they are not. They are designed to maximize the money the cell carriers make and not necessarily minimize what you pay.
Multiple types of entertainment demands multiple types of devices. Reading devices, while you may be OK with last year’s Kindle Fire HD or Nook’s equivalent instead of this year’s Kindle Fire HDX; you have to admit that there is a large amount of functional overlap between these devices and regular tablets. On top of that, this year’s reading tablets are just an evolutionary upgrade and you may benefit from keeping last years device. If you already use a tablet and it is light enough you may want to spare the expense of getting a tablet just for reading. If your main computing device is too heavy to bring with you as an everyday reader, then have you considered reading on your smartphone? Most phablets (and now average sized smartphones) are large enough while featherweight enough to use as reading devices. The only thing that may stop you from reading on your smartphone should be the size being too small or your eyesight if you cant read well on a small enough font. Finally, you should consider purchasing a tablet reader if larger than a reader is too big or smaller than a reader is too small. In this case, you still need to decide whether you will be better served by purchasing a monochrome reader, they are the least expensive and are just the right size and weight.
You may be interested in Gaming or in Movies, Music and TV. If either of these is the case, you should look into the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. While the Paystation 4 is more aimed at gaming and has a more spartan UI aimed at the hard-core gamer; the Xbox One is aimed at being in the center of the family entertainment. The specs of both gaming consoles are similar enough to be even catalogued as a Home PC. Their guts are in fact made of the exact same components as any standard PC. While the Xbox One is more aimed at family entertainment, they both can play some serious gaming. If you have a last generation Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, you may want to get an extra 6 months to a year out of it so you don’t need to upgrade right now. Waiting will help you see what platform has the best games or uses technology the best. Both new generations consoles have been released in the last 2 weeks. Game availability is still an issue as there are few choices out there for either device.
No matter what device you want, you may want to weigh in your options and do some thinking. Remember you may have a tight budget and do your holiday shopping wisely.