Appropriateness while technology shopping

I've talked before about "appropriateness" when shopping for technology devices. Although price will always be a limiting factor, appropriateness of the device's features should be aligned to how you will use them ... regardless of how big your piggy bank may be.

Here are two examples you may ponder this holiday season:

  • iPhone 12 Pro at $999+ or iPhone SE at $399+?

  • Entry level Windows 10 laptop at $350+ or Chromebook at $150+?

With the iPhone, a smartphone from Apple, for many with typical usage like voice calls, texts, emails, video chats, useful apps, and web surfing, the cost-conscious iPhone SE introduced this spring fits the bill (and saves some bills too). Just because it's cheaper doesn't mean you forgo the Apple premium quality.

Rather, iPhone SE uses the same "brain" as 2019's top-of-the-line iPhone 11 Pro. Its screen is smaller but some may even like how you can hold it in your palm. Apple must have heard that bigger is not always better as they also introduced the iPhone 12 Mini this fall.

On the other hand, if you are a hobbyist of photography/videography, the multiple lenses on iPhone 12 Pro (two wide angles and one telephoto) may be a welcome feature to up your game. Or the bigger screen that shows finer details (geek talk: pixels per inch or "ppi") may be what you desire.

A week before Thanksgiving, I bought our family's second Chromebook at a sale price of $149 before taxes. Our first Chromebook, procured in 2014 for $120 had "expired." All Chromebooks have an expiration date, similar to Microsoft's Windows or Apple's MacOS, and stops getting automatic updates. This new Chromebook has an expiration date in 2026.

For my everyday tasks like emailing, web browsing, and attending video meetings, all activities performed with Chromebook connected to the internet, aka the cloud, via Wi-Fi, Chromebooks do them well. I grab my Windows computer instead if I have to host video meetings, conduct webinars, teach classes for our nonprofit, or use applications only available on traditional computers.

The point is, unless one needs to do heavy lifting tasks, Chromebooks – in my opinion – are more appropriately aligned and a good investment to boot. Unfortunately, many still misperceive the utility of a Chromebook, perhaps because it came up through the education sector and only recently gained popularity in the consumer sector. Competition in the technology marketplace, which may already be intimidating for many, can also exacerbate the misinformation.

The Chromebook user experience is very similar to using the Chrome browser from Google, hence the operating system is called ChromeOS. Most recent Chromebooks can run Android apps, especially useful on a touchscreen Chromebook, thanks to smartphones and tablets since app usage is ubiquitous.

The appropriateness of the device you choose, plus being cognizant that technology gadgets have a built-in obsolescence (my current rule of thumb is 3 to 4 years), goes a long way in enjoying your technology investment.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:58 AM, 12.01.2020