Tech Nous Too Fast Forward?

Keeping up with technology can be tough on the back pocket – especially when you’re not prepared to settle for entry-level performance, but prefer to future-proof yourself with the highest level of performance and functionality money can buy. Laptops, smartphones, handheld PCs, digital cameras, just about any digital device you care to name has an extremely short shelf-life – sometimes it pays to just be patient and wait for market demand to drive prices down.
I have friend who invested thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art hi-fi turntable just months before the vinyl record industry shut down. Now it quietly gathers dust alongside his CD player. Mind you, at least he gained some consolation by picking up leading-brand DVD player the other day for shade over $200. This time last year he would have paid significantly more for one, and DVD technology is going to be around for some years yet.
It’s interesting that UK company recently began to press vinyl records, encouraged by the demand from record enthusiasts and rap music DJs. It’s also possible to digitally re-master old vinyl records and burn them onto CD, so don’t relegate those old favourites to the garage sale just yet.
If we had crystal ball and could see where technology is leading us, we would certainly make wiser (and less emotion-driven) buying decisions.
The digital marketplace can be daunting one. My film camera recently passed away – an old faithful that had recorded my children’s progress from tot to teen – so now I’m considering digital replacement. Do I opt for digital video, or still camera that can take just short snippets of video? And how many mega-pixels can I afford? – entry level resolution is edging towards 3.0 mega-pixels, but for film-quality reproduction, 5.0 or 6.0 mega-pixels are the order of the day. And this time next year, that sort of resolution could be the norm.
The next technology challenge to overcome involves equipping my two teenagers with cellphones – primary mode of socialising for their age group. There’s no putting off this decision – if you want to be part of the teenage ‘in’ crowd you simply must have cellphone to talk or text with.
A Context survey in the US found that teenagers often see little difference between meeting face to face and talking on the phone. Have you ever observed group of teenagers sitting together with their ears glued to phones, communicating with faraway friends rather than to each other? In the study, teens without cellphones rarely spoke with those who did have one, creating what is described as new kind of “digital divide” – similar to the gap between PC haves and have-nots, or in my day, the television haves and have-nots.
The question is – does all this new fast-moving technology really save us time and make us more productive, or does it simply change the way in which we work and communicate, and give us lots of exciting new gadgets to play with in the process?
As I said at the beginning, degree of patience is required when considering new technology – wait until the fad becomes definite trend. High-tech devices such as virtual keyboards, and FingerWorks’ innovative iGesture pad – which turns hand gestures into some of the most common computing tasks – could fall into the fad category. Other devices such as DVD players and digital cameras you could safely say are here to stay – well, for at least the foreseeable future! M

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management.
Email: [email protected]

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