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A look back at the gadgets and gizmos I've had over the years

I usually try to avoid buying the latest and greatest technological thing that's "in". Like when smart watches were all the rage last year, I avoided them. When the iPad came out, I saw it more as a novelty. I avoided wireless things, since I didn't want to deal with charging them up and such. But all that's changed, since now I've owned these kinds of products (well, except the iPad). So here are my thoughts about the gadgets I've purchased over the years, and whether or not they're still important to me now or not.

 

Since there's a broad range of "gadgets" I can cover, I'm going to limit this to either portable devices or small knick knacks (game systems not included because I'm a gamer so of course I have them :D).

 

1. Laptop

I got my first laptop in 2008, a Dell Inspiron 15 whatever number that was. I purchased it for school since I somehow got a grant in the middle of the semester so 1. I had nothing else to buy for the semester and 2. it's a school grant, why not get a laptop? It was that year I did discover the joy of having a portable computer to lug around winter and summer break. Two years later I passed it on to my dad and replaced it with one from ASUS that I'd say is one of the first "ultrabooks", since it was smaller (13") and lasted a ridiculously long time (12 hours). The next one after that was a Dell XPS 15z, which I thought was a great laptop, but it died two years later. I lulled around for a few months without a laptop since I didn't really need one at the time... until I decided to get a gaming laptop, an ASUS one. At first it was nice to have a gaming computer to take around with me since my desktop at the time was a pretty large beast that was awkward to carry. Then, I decided to sell it and get a Dell XPS 13, which at first I enjoyed, but I really wanted gaming performance and then finally settled down to my current one, a Dell Inspiron 15 7559 (I sold the XPS 13).

 

So after all this, I'm finding that my sweet spot size is 15". The gaming laptop was starting to be come inconveniently large. 13" is too small. And since I'm still a gamer, I want something that has graphical chops to it. It doesn't have to be amazing, but anything's better than Intel's iGPUs.

 

2. Smartphone

My first smartphone was the original Motorola Droid back in 2010. And I still have a smartphone. So I think there's a no brainer about the impact this device had on me. The first feature that smartphones struck out at me that I found useful was Google Maps and navigation. Funnily enough, when I got the Droid, I was about 6 months in my first car too, so it was pretty handy to have that feature. Eventually being able to surf the internet and use apps caught on. The Droid was replaced with an LG Spectrum, then a Motorola Moto X, and now an LG G4. Since I seem to have this Motorola-LG-Motorola-LG pattern (actually, the phone I had before the Droid was an LG phone), chances are my next phone's going to be a Motorola one :3

 

My usage hasn't really expanded much from how I used smartphones from the start. I don't watch YouTube all that much. I don't stream from internet radios. In fact, I like to not use my phone as much as possible... except if I'm standing around then I'll probably poke on the internet and Skype. However my phone has become my camera, so that's been my biggest desire when looking at phones. I haven't really been worried about the size, but I do like 5" phones.

 

3. A Camera

I did buy a digital camera back in 2011 or so, probably the equivalent of a Canon P&S, but with an optical zoom. It used AA batteries which I thought was a useful feature (I bought rechargables for them). It also didn't get much use. I found my phone more than adequate for the task, even if it took a long time for the quality to catch up.

 

4. Tablet

The first tablet I purchased was an ASUS Transformer Infinity (TF700T) back in 2012. When my XPS 15z kicked the bucket, I started using this as a sort of replacement, but then I soon realized Android has its problems. So slowly it started losing its use and I eventually sold it in 2014. However in that year I decided on another tablet, an ASUS T100, the Windows based tablet. This was during the time I had a gaming laptop, so it was to work as a more portable computer if I wanted it than the laptop. It did see quite a bit of use at first, but it lost its purpose once I got the XPS 13 and I sold it last year.

 

But I wasn't quite ready to toss the hat in for tablets. I purchased one more earlier  this year: an NVIDIA Shield K1. And I think this cemented what I like about a tablet. It's 8" is nice to hold and it's still workable. I use it mostly for a watching movies, either from YouTube or what's on my media server. It's actually getting a lot more use than the other tablets I have.

 

5. Raspberry Pi/STM32L Discovery ("project" boards)

I bought a RasPi in 2013 as a curiosity. I tinkered with it for maybe a few days but that was it. I wanted something like a small Linux machine. The most use it got was later that year when I was working as a contractor and the system on a board we were using pooped out. So I brought in the RasPi as a replacement. Not only were we back on track within a day, the fact that it worked as well if not better for $30 instead of the $150 the project board cost saved the thing we were working on.

 

I also bought an STM32L which is a more basic version of RasPi. It's more like a semi-advanced Arduino. It was for a silly project that I wanted to work on that lasted about a month before I got bored of it.

 

Both boards haven't received much love for at least a year. I'm probably going to keep the RasPi but at work and I'm going to toss the STM32L. Project boards like these probably aren't my thing.

 

6. Smart Watch

Well, something smart watch like... I bought a Fitbit Blaze a couple of months ago since I was looking at getting a fitness tracker for a while. Part of me felt like I was going to use it for a month, then go "eh, whatever" and not care about it. Well, I'm still wearing it and one of the things I love about it versus an actual smart watch is it lasts a long time. I clocked in at 5 and a half days before plugging it in, but it didn't actually die, it was just running on fumes.



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