Top Gadgets 2006
Posted by markharrison on December 31, 2006
Another year over, a lot of “toys” bought, on the assumption that they’d be fun or useful, so time to review what’s been good, and what hasn’t:
1: The iPod has, alas, sat on the shelf for at least six months. Now I’m no longer travelling by train much, I hardly ever want to listen through little earphones. The car stereo has re-asserted its place as the king for audio-on-the-move.
2: The new laptop (a Dell) has been an absolute winner. It’s finally got to the stage where I don’t need a desktop PC anymore, since the laptop is fast enough for everything I need up to and including video editing / DVD mastering.
3: The Domia Lite system for lighting control round the house has been utterly great. Being able to turn on and off lights be remote control wasn’t something I was begging to do, but now I have it, I wouldn’t live without it. [Declaration: Until midnight tonight, I’m a non-exec director of the company behind Domia Lite, and have options in the business.]
4: The “Skype headset” has been awfully useful. Far more useful than the SIP phone it replaced. The Skype juggernaut has basically rolled over all the standards-compliant “SIP” services, and I’ve ended up with Skype for the simple reason that the people I need to talk to have it, and they don’t have SIP services.
5: Software choices… Firefox has pretty much replaced Internet explorer as my browser of choice. I do have IE7, which is, to be fair, very good, and fast. However, Firefox seems to be ahead of the curve at all points. OpenOffice has replaced Microsoft Office in my life. It’s free, and it’s good. It’s NOT as good as Microsoft Office – but it’s “plenty good enough”, has one particular feature that MSO doesn’t (write to PDF), and is, well, free and legal.
6: The aircon unit was the top purchase of 2006. At just over £1,200 it wasn’t cheap, but doing it properly has made a tremendous difference to the house in summer.
7: Another year passes, another paper diary bought. I realise that, in principle, a PDA could do lots of things – but I do like having something that I _know_ is going to work. At the end of the day, there aren’t really many failure modes for a paper diary. (Minus several goombata points for Staples though, for choosing not to stock the diary I actually wanted for the first time in years.)
8: Really Useful Company 35 litre crates. My entire life seems to revolve around them – I now have one per training course, each loaded with the demo kit I need. The property portfolio has moved out of the filing cabinet into several of the larger ones, leaving the filing cabinet for the company paperwork. One cost grounds alone, I find it hard to believe that I’ll get another filing cabinet.
9: The Satnav. How did I manage without one. I bought a TomTom, which has worked very well, but pretty much everyone I know who has a SatNav is way happy, irrespective of which one they bought.
10: The cars. Still, actually, the most useful bit of kit I own, for both property investment, my other businesses, and property networking. With, say, the Property Networking Club (PNC) Birmingham being a 300-mile round trip from sunny Sussex, the car makes the difference between being able to get home and needing to stay away overnight. Alas, the Bentley has somewhat disgraced itself this year, but the Morgan has jumped to the rescue time after time, and puts a smile on my face whenever I drive it.