What is it about gadgets?

What is it about gadgets that gets us so excited that they become the must have item of the year? Some would say it’s the way it’s marketed, others packaging and then there are those who say it’s all about the design and functionality.

Well it got me thinking, I get sent PR press releases for pretty shiny gadgets and tech toys on a daily basis but I am selective on which ones I choose to write about. Those that I truly love and use all the time are actually the ones that I use but I don’t even think to write about. They are the ones that you find me with daily. I don’t shout and cheer from the rooftops I just get on and use them.

20110505-184619.jpgFor example, a while ago Dell sent me the lovely Vostro V130 which I have to say is a lovely laptop. They are aiming at the SME market with the product and the laptop itself hits all the marks. Its sturdy, shiny, functional and everything I would want in a laptop for an SME but yet this is the first time I’m writing about it… Why… because I don’t actually feel with this device I need to write about it. The gadget speaks for itself. The very fact that I take it on the train and blog from wherever means that it’s on show and people notice it. From time to time they even ask which Dell it is.

Those in the know about the Dell campaign come up to you and say oooh you’ve got one of those too… and those who bought it are then also part of the club! Now that to me is a very clever subversive marketing campaign. These devices are getting everywhere.

20110505-185922.jpgSimilarly Asus recently launched their new Slate and Transformer tablet PC’s with a really cool funky docking station (one on Android and the other Windows 7). Again I’ve not written about these until now but this time for a different reason. Firstly I’ve not had enough time playing with either to be sure that my first impressions were valid – my initial reaction was oooh shiny, pretty – lovely keyboard integration & design… But my reservation on the Slate was the Android OS (would I really get along with it, and do I have to be confined to Google Docs??!) and with the Transporter the Windows 7 OS – non touch compatible really and also battery life. So until I get more time with this one it’s on hold!

Getting back to the point though… generally if it’s pretty and functional then we don’t tend to shout about these things. If we hate them sure we’ll complain to high heaven about the things we don’t like. We might even decide to sell the device if it’s that bad! Give the thing to some other poor soul! That way it’s their problem. But if it’s good we keep it under wraps and use it until it’s worn to pieces or falls apart!

20110505-190251.jpgRemember some of those old mobile phones? How many of you would go back in time to a phone that is just for calls & texts, has days of battery life and no complexity. Then pair that up with a really useful tablet like the iPad or a great portable laptop… and some bluetooth headphones and you’re off. (yes I know I’ve missed out the mp3 player! ;) )

What is currently stopping us from bucking the trend of stepping back and reviewing our gadget choices? Why do we always go with the best new thing, why aren’t we looking back and going you know what, the best phone ever was X and the best MP3 player ever was Y… Lets go back to that.

The thing is marketing campaigns are demanding our attention. They are capturing our imagination, hearts and minds. They are getting inside our heads and making us feel like we need, must have, desire this new shiny! We are even rationalising this behaviour… it will save me x amount of time or y amount of money, yet really we don’t need to spend it. Actually whilst everyone is trying to save money why not go retro on the gadgets! Can you imagine people with classic phones (and I do mean proper classic not 2nd gen phones named classic!) talking to their mates! What would you think? Geeky or cool?

Funnily enough it happened a¬†while ago on the tube… I saw someone with one of my old (2000) mobile phones on the tube and it made me smile and the first word that popped into my head. How cool and retro is that!

What are your thoughts? Have companies missed a trick… how about re-marketing their best products rather than spending on new stuff… did they really flog their best horses back in the day or are they just now being re-discovered? What’s your favourite retro gadget?

About Sarah Lamb

Sarah is a freelance writer with a masters degree in Computer Science. Sarah writes about innovation, technology and social media. She has a keen interest in gender diversity with the IT sector and founded Girl Geek Dinners in 2005