Monday, November 3, 2008

Useless Gadgets?

WIRED's Gadget Lab blog posts the Five Useless Gadgets You Should Throw In The Trash Right Now. These supposedly obsolete pieces of equipment are the: printer, scanner, CD/DVD optical drive, fax machine, and landline phone.

About the only one I agree with on this list is the scanner, and that's just because it's been made obsolete by my digital camera. They're right that home printers and fax machines should be obsolete, but there are still agencies and employers out there who still deal stubbornly in hard copy, and until they start accepting things digitally, I'll still be relying on my trusty printer and occasionally scrambling to find someplace I can send and receive faxes. I agree the situation is completely ridiculous when I'm emailing documents to myself so I can print them out in my room and drive to the UPS Store to fax them off, but there's not a lot I can do about that.

As to optical drives, flash memory and functionally limitless hard drives are pretty much making the disc obsolete, but software and media haven't moved completely into the cloud yet, so until that happens I still need to be able to install programs and play my DVDs.

My real disagreement is the landline phone, which I think I've mentioned before. The authors just don't seem to take seriously the implications of an entire city being rendered incommunicado after a major disaster, and how easily cell networks could be brought down by malicious actors.

1 comment:

Shane said...

I don't have a real use for an optical drive anymore, except for installing an OS. Software + CD image files is all I'll really need for all but a few purposes. Even if I buy a DVD/CD I just rip it to my hard drive as soon as possible anyway. If there's copy protection on the disc, then I'll either circumvent it or just download a bootleg.

There are electronic fax options out there - most cost money, but if you're going to the UPS store it's probably time to do a cost/benefit analysis to see if you'd rather fax over IP.

I'm never going to have a landline again, though. I can see SOME utility in having a landline, but it's just a comparison of marginal utility versus marginal cost - I'd rather not spend the $15/month.