Gadget Fever

It started at the end of last week with a mild desire to lift my old Mission 750 speakers out of the garage and plug them into my PC for an improved sound experience. The simplest way to hook them up to my PC is through an amp, but the amp I’ve got doesn’t fit on my desk. So on Saturday when Alex and I were in town, we stopped by Richer Sounds to see if they had any amps with a smaller footprint.

No such luck. What they did have, however, was a portable DVD player (Yamada PDV520) for a mere £120. Yowza! Just a couple of years ago, you’d pay a grand for those things.

That price got me thinking about our upcoming trip to the US. One of our planned strategies for keeping Alex amused on the 11-hour plane trip is to buy him a GameBoy. We have mentioned this to him, and he is now quite keen on the idea that he is going to get a GameBoy when he gets to California.

That’s interesting, see. He thinks he’s going to get it when he gets there–not on the trip over. So I was wondering if I could get the portable DVD player for the trip, and then postpone further hand-held buying until after 21st November, at which point the Nintendo DS will be available. I mean, really. Why buy a GBA just days before the next generation of hardware is being released?

Richer Sounds also had an iRiver H140 on display. It was the first time I’d seen one in real life. Mmmm. Definitely not as sexy as an iPod, but it has a radio, which is a must for me. It is making me wonder about the benefits of the H340, though. What do you get for an extra £130? It has a colour screen, it can recharge from a USB cable rather than from a separate adapter, it can act as a USH host device (for transferring photos from a camera, for example), it record directly to MP3 from the radio and from other line-in devices. Hmm. Nifty features, but would I really use them enough to justify the cost?

Right now I’m not sure if I’d use any portable music player enough to justify the cost. And I’m pretty sure that a portable DVD player would only ever get dusted off for long plane flights and car journeys. A GameBoy or NDS will keep Alex amused for a while, but I doubt if it would become his favourite toy. (And would I really want it to be?)

The problem with gadget fever is that it isn’t rational. It’s not real hunger…it’s just an appetite.

And as soon as I start feeding it, more and more new toys push themselves into sight. Our Olympus C-3000 camera is four years old. It’s a lovely camera, but it’s not exactly new and shiny any more. The Canon EOS 300D and Nikon D70 SLRs, on the other hand, are very new and shiny and pretty and I wants one, preciousss. Even though I know bog all about f-stops and shutter speeds. Even though I know it won’t make me a better photographer. But especially with the pound’s current strength against the dollar. ($1.82! I suppose it’s one thing to be grateful to president Bush for!)

And I’d better not get started on flat-panel monitors. The problem with these suckers is that I’m so used to a resolution of 1600 x 1200 that I don’t want to settle for anything less, and LCDs with that kind of resolution haven’t seen the same price crash that lower-res versions have seen over the last year. Plus, there’s no way I’ll be able to afford an Apple 30″ super-wonga 2560 x 1600 cinema display. In the face of that kind of pixel envy…is there really any point in trying?

(And once I start thinking Apple, I start thinking PowerBooks, and I have to pinch myself.)

For this week, though, I think I’ll try to satisfy myself with a simple audio cable. I think there’s a way I can mount my old amp vertically just to the side of my desk. I’d have to child-proof it somehow, but if that can satisfy my cravings for the moment, I’ll be a happy bunny.

4 Replies to “Gadget Fever”

  1. Have you seen Dells new 17″ Laptop. Can’t wait till it arrives in the UK. I also can’t wait until I Have that kind of money.

  2. Mmmm, it’s nice, but kind of bulky. If I’m going to go for that kind of muscle, I’d probably go for a Toshiba Qosmio instead. Personally, I’m starting to wonder about a Tablet PC. I’ve tried out Microsoft’s OneNote on my desktop machine, and I’ve been thinking about how much more useful it would be with handwriting recognition….

  3. “Why buy a GBA just days before the next generation of hardware is being released?” because you have all the games already out and the price for hw and sw is at rock bottom.

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