PSA: The Following Gadgets Have Jumped the Shark

In my recent travels I’ve seen a number of gadget faux pas. People walking around with out-of-date tech, that they think makes them look cool, but actually makes them look really backward and uninformed. Here’s a helpful list of gadgets you should not own/use if you have any designs on looking like a trendy geek.


The Discman
The original Walkman started a revolution in portable entertainment. It lent iPod-level cred to the geeks of yesteryear. The Discman was never that cool.

Sure, for awhile it was a necessity, and once we could burn our own CDs, it even became somewhat personal. But it was never well implemented. CDs are just too big to make a svelt portable player around, and the spinning platter made it horribly impractical.

If you’re still carrying around a Discman — probably flat in one hand, out to the side of your body, doing your best to keep it level so it doesn’t skip — you need to let the old girl go. Pick up an iPod, or at least a cheap knock-off, and usher yourself into 2003.


The RAZR
There was a time when having a RAZR meant you were on the cutting edge of tech.
That time has passed.

Granted its still a decent and usable phone (despite Moto’s horrible firmware), but the fact is, everyone has, or has had, a RAZR by now. Nothing burns through geek-cred faster than ubiquity. Once grandma can get a particular handset, its time for something new.

Personally, I’ve never kept a phone much more than a year-and-a-half. I kept my RAZR for about 3 months. If you’re still hanging on to yours, its time for a trip to your local Best Buy — or better yet, eBay for an unlocked phone. Just don’t sign any contracts… you could find yourself with another sadly out-of-date handset before your contract is up.


Non-Bluetooth Headsets
The only thing that bugs me more than some hipster-wannabe walking around with a Bluetooth headset in his ear, even though he’s not on a call, is some hipster-wannabe walking around with a corded headset in his ear.

Unless that headset is connected to an iPhone which, while not in a call is playing some tunes, you need to cut the cord. You do not look cool with that cable hanging out of your head (probably plugged in to a RAZR.) Its hard to believe that was ever cool.

If you’re really so important that calls come in with such frequency that you can’t hold a phone to your head while you’re walking, then get yourself a Bluetooth headset, and at least look like a yuppie from this decade.


The PDA
Most people who have PDAs — Palms and PocketPCs — don’t really use them. I know, because I had them. Sure the idea seems useful, and occasionally its nice to be able to refer to a calendar, but everyone knows by now that the PDA didn’t really become useful until they attached a cell phone to it.

If you’re one of those people with a cell phone holster on one hip, and a PDA holster on the other hip, and you don’t work for UPS or some other employer that requires out-of-date hardware, then I have news for you, friend: you look like a dork.

Smart phones are the thing right now –but even a standard cell phone can do most of the PIM functions these days. If you’re as tech-savvy as you want people to think you are, and you can’t afford an iPhone or a Blackberry, then figure out how to connect your phone with Outlook or iSync.


If any of this is you, its time to get caught up. You’ll find that the future isn’t really that scary. Do your own research online, find what meets your needs and fits your budget, and make it happen. Whatever you do, don’t believe a word the Best Buy salesperson tells you. I over-heard one of those guys trying to sell a MacBook yesterday, and he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

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9 thoughts on “PSA: The Following Gadgets Have Jumped the Shark

  1. Jonathan,

    Great, cop an attitude about other folks’ old gear. You probably can afford to keep up with the trends, however, some folk are a little less financially able to plop down bucks for the latest gizmo. They resort to flea markets, pawn shops and second hand stores and ebay to get their fix.

    My point is, with most of the promises of past and current technology remaining unmet, we continue like lemmings to move on to the next one.

    Some people take a different approach. If a thing works, so what if it’s not the newest. It’s all about the content, work product, outcome, results and not about the tool. Besides the best corded headsets work and sound better than most B.T. headsets, and are far more convenient than holding the dang phone up to your ear, looking like someone just bashed you upside the head.

    I agree, PDA’s are pretty useless if you don’t use them, but even SmartPhones are not soup yet. I own a bunch of ’em and am still waiting for the right device. Maybe the next gen iPhone, or the much-hyped gPhone?

    Further, who wants to look like a yuppie from any decade? Forget that!

  2. My theory is as follows:

    Stay one to twenty steps behind the regular technology gadgets of the day. This way, your budget does not get hit hard to purchase fancy new items.

    This is why I still use the old bag car phone. I picked it up off of Ebay for $5 unlocked and no contract required. I know it doesn’t have Bluetooth technology, but it has a full handset so it’s just like using my phone at home, although, that one still is rotary dial.

    As for the discman, it comes in handy, because I purchased a tape with a cord on it that plugs into the tape deck in my car so I can listen to newer music. Oh yeah, this theory comes in quite handy with vehicles too. You’d be amazed at how inexpensive cars are from the early 90’s and even the 80’s. I bought stock in Quaker State and ever since buying my car, my stock has risen in value.

    Anyways, enough about my theories. I just wanted to help people to know that you can get the latest fads later in life for a lot less. Now back to my Macbook Pro to find something else to do.

  3. Nice, Bill. Don’t laugh too hard — Nic has an uncle who only just replaced his “bag phone” this summer… and only because Rogers finally disconnected the Analog system it ran on!

  4. I love my pink razr…

    I don’t need any of the fancy features newer phones have- plus it has lasted me longer than any phone i have had before. I can drop this one or throw it across the room and then still pick it up and use it.

  5. Mom and I bought two utility grade Sony Ericssons when we arrived. The cost and coverage of the service in Malaysia is infinitely better than anything in S-W Ontario. We use them constantly locally and internationally and are hard pressed to use up the ten bucks it costs us a month. My only regret is that I didn’t buy into the 800 series so we could get international SIMs for travel into Cambodia and Singapore.

  6. T. Fleming: I actually agree with that…on pretty much everything but cell phones — our primary computer at home is a 5-year old Mac.
    This post was inspired by an amalgam of people I saw on an airplane that, together, made me laugh. I appreciate the thorough response though! Thanks for participating!

    Brooke: You’re cool no matter what :-p Besides, you txt and you guys have an iPod, so you’re pretty hip!

    Jon: You’re too young to really understand the pain caused by early Discman’s. Enjoy your iPod and thank your elders for pioneering the technology that made it possible!

    Courtney… I’m sorry, but that pink RAZR just isn’t cool any more 😉 I will agree that Moto’s phones are usually pretty sturdy. I once through an iDen i1000 out a 7th floor window, and there was not a single blemish on it.

    Dad: Asia is by FAR the best place to find cellular kit. When we were and visited the malls, I just went from store to store, drooling over the high-end handsets that we wouldn’t see in North America for another 12-18 months. PS: You probably can get your current cell phone SIM-unlocked for a few bucks if you want.

  7. Hi Jonathan, I like your blog but this point I emphatically disagree with:

    “Most people who have PDAs — Palms and PocketPCs — don’t really use them. […] Smart phones are the thing right now”

    I would be utterly lost without my Palm T3, and my brother has sworn by his Psion Series 5 for so long that it’s all but grafted onto him. We have spares and repair them as needed, because it’s still the best option available.

    The thing is, smart phones *are not* up to par with Psion and (the early) Palm devices, nor do they seem to become it anytime soon. Quite the opposite, in fact, each new Palm gets farther away from what I would call a useful product.

    What we (and others like us) want is not a phone, but a personal digital assistant, what I like to call a ‘plastic brain’. Phone capability is not essential (actually, I like having the two devices separate).

    If you can show me a smart phone that has near-VGA resolution on a decent-sized screen (min 3″ across) AND the ability to load third-party apps (AND an active community) AND a proper keyboard AND still have many days or even weeks of use (not standby!) time between recharges, THEN I’d be very, very interested. Until then, we’ll stick with our old gadgetry in their bulky cases and belt clips — even if it makes us look more hopelessly out-of-date and uninformed than retro-cool. 🙂

    (Also see our blog)

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