Inspector Gadget

In Shopping on December 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm

So have you made your Christmas list yet? I have. And I’ll tell you what’s not on it. I don’t want jewellery, books, lingerie, kitchenware, bath unguents, or even a lovely old set of embroidered pillowcases, i.e. any of the sort of things I usually long for.

What do I want this year? A new Kindle, a new iPod, a new iPhone, an iPad, a wireless Sonos stysem MP3 doo dah which will stream music through my house (not sure what that means, but I want it), and one of those tiny little video camera thingoes – what are they called again? – oh yes, a Kodak Playsport. Or a Flip video camera, same difference.

In short, I want gadgets. Lots of them. I even want one of those things which tells you how much power you’re using in your whole house and you can see it go WHEEEE! when you turn the tumble drier on. Or, in my case, simultaneously charge more than five of my new gadgets.

I’m not sure what’s happened to me, but it’s a major shift because when I got the paper last Saturday the first section I turned to, was called ‘Technology Christmas Gift Guide’.

Now ‘technology’ used to be a word I associated with bearded men in shorts-sleeved shirts, chest pockets lavishly stocked with biros. A word I found about as appealing and full of promise as ‘physics’, ‘statistics’ or ‘pot holing’. Zero interest and zero glamour.

Then suddenly technology got sexy. Because technology now means gadgets. And gadgets are fabulous. Gadgets are as gimme gimme gimme to me these days as handbags used to be.

I’ve got enough handbags now to tide me over pretty much for the rest of my life, but I have an insatiable need for new gadgets – and just like luxury leather goods they’re bringing out new ‘must haves’ all the time.

But unlike the ‘It’ bags of yore (that does all seem like another lifetime, doesn’t it?), which just looked different to the last one, the It gadget actually does more, bigger, better, smarter stuff for you.

It does stuff for you that you didn’t know something could do and you didn’t know you wanted it to even if it could but you’re frightfully glad it can.

Great piles of sliding CD cases have been replaced in my house by one iPod and several docks (the CDs are in the attic in DJ binders, the jewel cases are in landfill).

With the arrival of my iPhone, my handbag was unburdened of the camera, the A-Z, the train timetable, and the iPod I used to have to haul around. In fact I’ve been able to go down several handbag sizes.

It’s no coincidence that both those life-changing gadgets are Apple products. Apple have totally the led way into this brave new world of sexy techsy. Not only do their gadgets do the most interesting things, they look amazing while they’re doing them. They are the Prada of gadgets.

And this is from someone who doesn’t have the unconditional love for the brand that 99% of my friends have. Over 25 years, I’ve worked with just about every computer system there is and I’m level-headed about the pluses and minuses of them all. But nobody gives gadget like Apple.

Just the other week I went up to their fabulous new megastore in Covent Garden for an appointment at the Genius Bar with my now rather elderly iPod.

Everything about the experience, from the pristine white interior, to the lovely young woman who looked after me, was divine. And with all the cool and quirky young people who work there it felt like the sort of shop you would want to hang out in just for the atmos.

It’s the Biba of 2010.

They were nice to an old lady like me, the young Geniuses, too. After ten minutes chatting to the charming (and not unattractive) Paul, who let slip he produces music on his iMac, I was ready to buy everything in the shop. It was like being glamoured by a vampire.

Sense prevailed just before I handed over my credit card for an iPad I really can’t justify and I practically ran out of the shop to save myself from financial ruin.

But while I managed to resist that temptation I know that there will be a new Kindle waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year.

I’ve already bought it for myself.

  1. Oh Maggie…I’m dying to buy one of these gadgets but can’t really justify a purchase…or can I? Of these I think the iPhone would be the most gorgeous and practical…but can’t get my head around the size, much bigger than my trusty Nokia( which slips into my pockets) !!

  2. I didn’t think I needed the iPad either, I had already succumbed to the lure of the Kindle, but I was convinced (by my Dad – awesome early adopter at 70!) to try one. Oh it’s wonderful…

    We recently took a National Lampoon’s-like road trip for a couple of weeks, and with the 3G card, I was connected when I needed to be…and switched off when I needed to as well. But quick access to hotel bookings, restaurant reviews, emails to friends while driving for hours on end, and the rain radar as we drove through storm after storm were invaluable.

    Yes, I could do it with the iPhone, but it was about 100 times easier on the iPad…and I loaded it up with movies, books and tv shows for when I needed something to distract me from the hours of unending scrubland.

    My only question is that now I have an iPhone, a Kindle AND an iPad…what should I covet for Christmas? Ah – the Bose portable speaker system…

    Perhaps I should start on the ‘compacting lifestyle’ as my consumerism seems to be running rampantly out of control!!

    Have a great weekend Maggie – and to all your loyal (and new) reader too!!

    • Yeah, the iPad does sound totally the answer to travel email. I had a nightmare on my trip to Aus for the booklaunch. So expensive to get online in hotels, then had to wait for the bloody laptop to fire up, it was such a hassle. Do you love your kindle? xxx

  3. loved today’s post = and v funny. thank you

  4. Hmmmm sorry your original gift list sounds much better. I don’t get gadgets, probably because I repel technology. If you saw my mobile phone you would laugh, it doesn’t even offer you a choice of ringtone.

    Oh well, at least it’s pink.

  5. Oh so true Maggie. The only restraint I seem able to manage at this point is my resolve that I’ll wait til Christmas to see if some fairy godmother gets me an iPad. If not, I’m in store 26 Dec to buy one for myself for Christmas!

  6. I love my Kindle. The best thing is that you can get a sample of a book for free. On Saturdays I read the Spectrum section in the SMH and download the samples of books reviewed. I then have a list of the books I am interested in for further purchase or for borrowing from the Library. I also downloaded a free copy of “Swiss Family Robinson” when my youngest child was bored at his brothers swimming lesson and I read it to him for 15 minutes. This is the only gadget I own and it was a gift. I can’t justify anything else.

  7. Maggie – This should be read with “The 12 Days of Christmas” in mind…At last count, my adult son, my partner and myself (+ two medium sized, very cute dogs), squeezed into an inner city Victorian terrace in Melbourne had (at a minimum) the following gadgets: 4 pc’s, 3 laptops, 2 digital SLR’s, 2 iPads, 2 ipods,1 iPhone, 1 HTC desire android (don’t ask) ..and a partridge in a pear tree. This has got be the technological equivalent of gluttonny? Or too many shoes? And if I was asked to pick one and only one of these gadgets to take to a desert island with me it would be my iPad – it is just wonderful. And the amazing thing about Apple, is that everything I go to do, someone has been there and thought about it before me and made it so intuitive – and this applies just as much to a 50 +yr old as it does to my twenty – something son. Masterful!

    Hope Santa is technologically tuned in for you this Christmas. (And thanks for another thought provoking Saturday column).

  8. Oh I agree totally! I have an iPhone 4 & am desperate for an iPad even thou I really have no need, they’re just so sexy 😉 hope Santa is kind to u

  9. We/I changed our minds about eating in a restaurant on Christmas Day because I want to play with my new kindle which Santa is leaving under the tree. I love my new iPhone which I am using to do this and my sister tells me I just must get the DSI nintendo thing for memory exercises but maybe an iPad could do just as well plus lots more. Maybe for my 68th birthday in March if I can wait that long. Happy Festive Season Maggie.

  10. Hi Maggie, I suffer from Technolust too. There is no way I would be separated from my smartphone- it is immensly important in my life. I bought myself a Kindle for Christmas and I LOVE it (there was no way I was waiting for Christmas to start using it). I was so sorry for you when I read on Twitter you lost yours on the plane. I also have a Sony Bloggie video camera which is great and recommend you get one or something similar, lots of fun to use. As for the iPad I am waiting patiently (ha ha) for the next generation to arrive.

  11. Oh, I just got an iPad, and have work iPhone, but the iPad? It’s the shizz. First thing I did was download the Kindle app, and am now spending my train rides reading Julia Child’s life in Paris. Apart from that I use it in the kitchen, a lot, also for watching the ABC with the new iView app. Fab.

  12. Your blog looks really pretty on my iPad 🙂

  13. I so so love a bit of sexy techsy (what a brilliant turn of phrase). My iPhone is wonderful. So simple, intuitive, endlessly entertaining and a beauty to behold. I am very excited that my husband is getting an iPad from his work for Christmas (makes it easier for him to read all those work documents on his “holidays”; provided by work as a concession to how difficult it is to read anything a blackBerry.)

    Although I understand gadgets in the context of the need for instant communication and life on the move, I confess that I have a deep seated love for the pages of a book. I just can’t see myself in bed at night with a glass of wine reading a book on an iPad or Kindle.

    I mentioned this in Pilates the other day and the (sexy! young!) guy next to me laughed: “But your iPad can make the sound of pages turning. And you can have a virtual library showing your books. It’s the way of the future,” he said. Nevertheless, when I’m snuggled down on my side under the doona, I reckon an iPad would be pretty uncomfortable. And they don’t smell like books and they just don’t feel like books.

    Similarly, I read the newspaper online but I also have it home delivered because it is nice to sit at the kitchen table and leaf through the paper. And funnily enough, different things catch my eye in the hard copy compared with the online version.

    Oh, the other thing I could never sacrifice for technology is the pleasure of browsing in bookshops. It is one of my favourite things to do. Sometimes I buy books online but most of the time I love the experience of going into a bookshop.

    Maggie, I’m interested to know whether you will stop buying “real” books or whether there is still a place in your life for them.

    • Hi Dieneke – the amazing thing about the Kindle is that reading on it is just as satisfying as reading a book. That really amazed me. And it has a cover on it so it’s the same shape and feel. I won’t stop buying real books because I love them too much, but my house is so full of them it’s really helpful to slightly fewer of them littering up the place! x

  14. I received an iPad for my December birthday. It was justified because I’m studying another degree(!) I absolutely love it and I am normally a jewellery/shoe/accessory gal. It’s great for my uni (yooni) research and reading and just as wonderful for lots of lovely books, mag articles, internet looking-up and everything a book worm could ever desire…The best thing is I can read it without having to squint so much.
    Maggie, I miss you in the GW and actually haven’t bothered much with it lately. You started off every weekend whether I caught you a 7.00am or hours later after carting around the damn thing, tucked under my wing for hours, till I took a sneaky break from ferrying kids around to sports. (Yawn to sports).
    Glad I’ve found you again.

    • Hi Catherine – thanks so much for that. I’m glad you found me as getting the word out about this is the hardest part of it. So as I keep saying to everybody – please tell all your online friends and print it out for those who aren’t. Enjoy your iPad you lucky thing! Mxxx (and I enjoyed the ‘yooni” reference!

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