What’s My Favorite Gadget?


Credit: Apple

Kindle Paperwhite

Credit: Amazon

If you asked four years ago, three years ago, even one year ago my answer to this question would have been one and the same – my Kindle eReader.  Really?  Yes, I’ll get to why soon but to answer that question today is a bit of a conundrum.  First you need to know that I’m a voracious reader and naturally by reading this you must know that writing is a passion of mine so it might make some sense that the Kindle was my choice for so long but that’s not the main reason.  I’m a big fan of things that focus on doing only one thing and not things that try to be all things to all people.  I’ve owned a Kindle ever since I pre-ordered the 2nd generation Kindle back in 2009.  I”m referring specifically to the Kindle with an E Ink screen, not the Kindle Fire tablets that get so much attention.  Next to paper E Ink is still the best way to go for pure reading.  I pretty much ditched print from the get go allowing exceptions for only a couple of my favorite authors.  I won’t even attempt to knock print form because I actually morn its decline with many of you but I stop short of feeling guilty.  Let me tell you why.  Amazon’s Whispersync cloud technology means that I can go anywhere with my entire library of books and just like how iTunes and the iPod freed most of us from those giant cd albums once you go paperless so to speak you’ll never go back.  Amazon’s controversial low pricing practices don’t hurt either.

The best thing about the Kindle line of eReaders though I think is the nearly flawless experience.  They just work.  They do basically one thing and they do it quite well.  The month long battery life I currently experience (without ever turning wifi off I must add) is the clincher for me.  The tech has come a long way since my 1st clunker back in 2009.  Gone is the keyboard and in is an edge lit display.  The screen resolution is frightening close to real print and it’s feather lite to hold.  I’ve even caved on my last remaining hold outs and strictly purchase eBooks now.  In over four years I can count the hardware/software gliches of my Kindles I’ve experienced on one hand!  Folks this is hallowed ground in my opinion.  This is the mythical golden egg that gadget makers dream of.  Kindles just work.  They just work.  Let me say it again because it’s so rare it’s worth repeating they just work!  With prices of eReaders dropping by double digit percentages with each successive generation there’s almost no excuse for die hard readers not to own one.  Yeah it’s nice having access to my eBooks almost anywhere through an app but at the end of the day you just can’t beat the pure reading experience on a Kindle.  So is it my favorite gadget today?  No.  Recently that title went to another gadget whose manufacturer is most known for a reputation of making things that just work.

I have to say right now Apple’s iPhone 5 has finally conquered the 4 year reign of Amazon’s Kindle.  The iPhone 5 is not my first smartphone experience.  Far from it as I’ve gone through my share of Blackberries, Androids, and even a previous generation iPhone.  That would be the iPhone 3G which performed so poorly for me it drove me to an Android phone for my next smartphone.  The 3G was basically the original iPhone wrapped in plastic and given a 3G radio.  In my opinion it was vastly under powered for each successive iteration of iOS software.  It didn’t help that I was also straddled to AT&T’s overburdened network at the time.  Between bugs and network issues it had about a 40% failure rate when placing calls.  No exaggeration.  It was basically a brick to me for the last 6 months before I upgraded to a highly anticipated and equally highly rated Motorola Atrix.  It promised the speed of AT&T’s uncluttered HSPA+ 4G network and garnered many top innovation awards in the industry at the time of its release.

The Atrix was a complete let down.  I would learn about four months in to my contract it would be left out of any further Android updates and it was buggy as hell.  Though always cautious I could not prevent adware infiltration.  I had it replaced twice in the warranty period for bugs and one month after warranty expiration a large strip across the center of the screen stopped responding to touch.  The Atrix was an abysmal failure for me.  I snagged an iPhone 5 on opening day and must say it’s the best $200 I’ve ever spent.  Now I was cautiously optimistic when I picked it up given my last four years on smartphones but I am glad to say all fears have been squashed (so far).  Just like my Kindles the iPhone 5 just works!  Yes it does try to be all things to all people but I must say to this consumer it does the job for the most part.  Apps are quite stable.  Bugs aren’t evident anywhere.  Battery life could be a little longer but it still beats the heck out of my prior smartphones.  The screen just pops and everything I read on it is completely legible.  AT&T’s network has dramatically improved and their LTE speeds and reliability have raced to the front of the pack.

It’s proven to be in this geek’s opinion the right conditions for the perfect storm.  The hardware is proven (and always Apple’s strength), the software is stable (even if ripe for the upcoming iOS 7), and the network can support it and it’s traffic.  You can say this iteration of the iPhone is the grown up counterpart to the 3G.  Puberty still sucks I guess.  There are a lot of great phones and software out there I admit but if you want stability, reliability, and still a bit of cool factor I highly recommend the iPhone 5.  For what it does and my unabashed reliance on it I have to place above my Kindle as my favorite gadget.  Though I had to pick just one favorite for this article I still win because I get to enjoy both!  We’d love to here what your favorite gadget is and why.  Please let us know in the comments section below.

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