Psst! You don't need that new gadget

Listen carefully, because I’m about to commit what is essentially heresy for a gadget reviewer, by pointing out something that should be blindingly obvious, but is all too often hidden under layers of marketing hype.
Day in, day out, I see new gadgets. I test some of them, I write about many of them, and if they’re big and sufficiently warm enough, one of my cats will attempt to sleep on them. I wish they wouldn’t do that.
New gadgets always come with plenty of hype. I could have added to it — and probably scored myself a few page hits — simply by making the headline something along the lines of “Why iPhone 6 will be a failure” or “Don’t buy Samsung’s gadgets, they make missiles”*, or similar. Hype can be interesting and fun in a way, and part of what I do is to try to strip away that hype and get to the meat of each product I review. They come, and in most cases, they go.
Meanwhile, I’m toddling along writing this on a five year old iMac. There’s an original generation iPad not that far behind me right this instant, and just to my left I can reach a stack of Atari 2600 cartridges.

Mmmm. Outlaw.
The older computing gear is around because it still works. It still does the job I need it to do, and if it dies, my first instinct won’t be to replace it straight away with newer gear. It’ll be to sort out what the feasible repair costs are going to be in the first instance, and what the impact on my productivity is likely to be. I’m in the lucky position that I do get to test lots of funky new gadgets, but I spend my own money (what there is of it) carefully, and only when I need to.

All it takes is a little T&C. And maybe some warming electricity.
All it takes is a little T&C. And maybe some warming electricity.

A friend of mine put me onto the concept of the Repair Cafe by way of this article, and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to see spring up in Australia around all sorts of tech purchases. Yes, not everything is immediately repairable, but plenty of things will work just fine with a little T&C.
That'll buff right out and be good as new in no time. (OK, maybe not this one)
That’ll buff right out and be good as new in no time.
(OK, maybe not this one)

What about those gadgets that up and die? Then it’s fine to go gadget shopping, but before you do, drop the mobiles into Mobile Muster, printer cartridges into Cartridges 4 Planet Ark and check what your local council does with e-waste. Whatever you do, don’t just chuck your gadgets into the bin!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go into hiding before the agents of the Gadget Pope catch up with me for heresy most foul…
*This is true. The missiles bit, I mean.
Images: Gerald Rich
Matthew Hurst

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