Inspiration

Tech combinations

A smartphone is a kind of “do everything” device. But how does it fare against equipment that is more specialised?


Smartphone + charger

  • Spectacular features/portability ratio.
  • Allows the user to feel normal.
  • Tiny screen.
  • Unpleasant for phone calls.
  • Gateway drug to tech over-use.
  • Scarcely enough battery power to last into the evening.


Voicephone

  • Ultra-portable.
  • Sensible battery charge capacity.
  • Good ergonomics for making calls.
  • May have good audio quality.
  • Constitutes a physical firewall against the distraction economy, tech over-use, security issues, etc.
  • Often rather retro in terms of physical appearance and operating system.

mini tablet

  • About the size of a slim paperback book or city atlas, so will fit nicely in a bag or coat pocket.
  • Probably the smallest useable screen size for web browsing, working through emails, watching films, etc.
  • Can be used with an external, physical keyboard; some keyboards are built into a case.
  • Low cost.


Medium or large tablet

  • Trades portability for screen size, so not suitable for a handbag or coat pocket.


Phablet

  • A giant smartphone: phone-tablet. The name is mighty ugly and so are you – when you use one to make a phone call.
  • The screen is still too small for most purposes.
  • Too big for most pockets.
  • Too big for most hands/faces.


Ultra-portable laptop; 2-in1 device

  • Relatively light, but still a significant object to carry around.
  • Physical keyboard, which enables touch-typing.
  • With 2-in-1 devices, the screen can be detached and used as a (large) tablet.


Standard laptop computer

  • Almost the new standard full-size computer. But a 15สบ screen is still rather small when compared to a desktop.
  • Keyboard almost as good as those available for desktop computers.
  • Can be used with an external screen. This brings both larger screen size and better ergonomics (top of the screen should be the same height as your eyes).


Desktop computer

  • Full-size screen that really allows you to get things done – multiple screens are possible. Good for watching TV or films, too.
  • Because miniaturising technology is expensive, a desktop is both cheaper and more powerful than the laptop equivalent.
  • Except for all-in-one products (e.g. the iMac), it is possible to upgrade components as time goes on – meaning that you can keep a desktop computer for much longer before it becomes obsolete.
  • With separate units, you have free choice as to what screen, keyboard and mouse you use. And you don’t have to replace them when the time comes to get a new computer.
  • Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi.
  • More options are available for backing up. For example, a second hard drive can be built in for hourly local backups.
  • Optimal ergonomics: wider keyboard is better for your wrists/shoulders; eye-level screen is better for your posture.
  • The separate keyboard is the perfect complement to the ultimate tech upgrade: being able to touch-type.
  • A desktop’s lack of portability brings a very specific benefit: it makes it much easier to leave all that computer-related stuff behind, and go and do something off-line. When you’re not at your desk, you’re not at your desk.


Landline phone

  • Excellent ergonomics (unless modelled on a lobster).
  • Generally excellent call quality.
  • Extremely cheap to use, including for most international calls.
  • Total freedom from everything that is not your phone call. And in the age of distraction, that’s a major benefit.


Camera

  • Better image quality, when compared to a camera function built into a phone.
  • Physical switches, knobs and buttons.
  • Better focus within you. When you’re taking pictures, that’s all you’re doing. You’re not holding a device that does everything, means everything, wants everything.
  • Makes it easier to miss out on pictures. This is an essential part of being human: it shifts your memory back into you, and helps keep you in the here and now.


Satnav

  • Often already built into a car; readily available as a separate device, including for fitting to bicycles.
  • Means that you miss out on finding out about and connecting with the world around you, but sometimes that has to take a back seat.
  • Potentially useful tool for anyone seeking the freedom of not always having to carry a computer with them.


Digital audio player (a.k.a. MP3 player)

  • Often has far superior sound quality.
  • Most give you full freedom of choice as to what file formats to use, for example FLAC, which has a much higher quality than the MP3 format.
  • You can have music on the go without worrying about your phone’s battery charge level.
  • Very effective as a semi-static music system at home.
  • Not having a audio player built into your phone makes it easier to sometimes decide to hear what everyone else is hearing, rather than creating a private reality. It’s possible to get too much private reality…


Printer

  • Another useful ally in the fight against computer dependency. Printing out a travel ticket, rather than having it on your phone, may sound medieval but lots of people still do it and get on just fine.
  • Also handy for all sorts of other projects and activities, like signs, posters, photos, birthday cards…
  • Ultra-compact models are available, that can easily be stored away when not in use.
  • Printer owners always have lots of friends: “Okay if I pop round and print something out?”
 

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