Saturday, February 25, 2012

Smaller is Not Better: The Quest to Update My Technology

There was a time when I was on the cutting edge of technology.  I had a home computer in 1987, when a very small percentage of Americans did.  When high speed Internet came to Indianapolis, I was one of the very first to sign up.   Yep, I was on the cutting edge.

Fast forward a couple decades later and I've fallen woefully behind in my technology.  While I have a big screen TV, it's a bulky rear projection model that weighs about 3000 pounds.  I have flip phone and don't text.  My laptop which is closing in on 10 years old, has a broken fan and is barely usable.

I've decided this is the year that I update my technology.  I plan to get a new phone and start texting.  I intend to get a new laptop computer and hopefully figure out wi-fi.

My problem though is everything technology-wise keeps getting smaller.  The other day I was using a friend's phone trying to read a story on the Internet.  The text was so small I couldn't make it out.  I don't want a phone with tiny keys if I'm going to text.  If I'm going to read anything on my phone, I want it large enough to read without straining my eyes.

They're also making laptops smaller and lighter.  I don't really understand why.  Small laptop computers means a smaller screen and a smaller keyboard.  My eyes and fingers prefer a bigger screen and bigger keyboard, respectively.  (Why are they making keyboards so small people have to return to hunting and pecking to type?)  And don't get me started with that eraser-type mouse on laptops.  I hate it.  As far as making the laptops lighter, that just means I'm more likely to end up leaving it someplace.  Laptops weren't that heavy to begin with.

I like the new technology.  I just don't think everything needs to get smaller.  Smaller is not necessarily better.

Hmmm...I'm starting to sound like the late Andy Rooney.  This is disturbing.


Had Enough Indy? said...

Try an iPad type device. Bigger screen for those old eyes. Cannot do much typing, but enough for texting.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Good suggestion.

Indy Student said...

iPads and other types of tables also have USB ports so you can attach the more traditional mouse and keyboard if need be.

As for the laptops, they basically fall into two categories. The smaller, more affordable laptops, like my Lenovo S10-3, falls under the "notebook" category. These things are very affordable ($200-300), have a ridiculous battery life, and are small and easy to transport. The downside is they aren't high powered machines. Mine doesn't even have a CD drive. You won't be playing DVDs or playing World of Warcraft on this.

But it does the basics (word processing, Internet searches, photo related shindig, etc...) just fine.

Then you have the laptops that are larger and are essentially desktop computer replacement...which can be transported if you really want, but most people leave them at home/work. More of a processor, bigger screen, bigger hard drives, bigger everything. These things can game, watch movies, they can do almost anything a desk top can.

I too was once anti-texting and didn't see the appeal. But when I started working in IT and I needed instantaneous communication with my dad in noisy environments (or in environments which required silence), it was a life saver.

Having a "full keyboard" on the phone helps for texting.

Pat's suggestion of trying a tablet is a very good one.

marksmall2001 said...

Here is a high-tech, cutting-edge suggestion: buy glasses. They have been out for a few years, have become lighter and lenses thinner, and are user-friendly. The operations manual for a pair is virtually non-existent.

varangianguard said...

Get a smartphone and tie a tablet to it (via Bluetooth). You can use the tablet like a laptop (with Windows programs that are compatible with most others), and yet it uses your smartphone's data plan for wireless access, so you don't have to troll about looking for Wi-Fi.

Indy Rob said...

If you are looking for ideas,

I would not worry so much about cost since it sounds like you use your devices for a long time.

Replace your phone with one of the android devices that has a 5 inch screen. More difficult to carry around, but is a lot easier to use.

As for a laptop, the balance is always between screen size and portability. A laptop with a 17" screen is awkward to move, but may be your best compromise if you do most of your work away from a home base. If you have a base office, I'd recommend getting a large monitor and a docking station. Being 50, I definitely prefer using my 22" monitor over my 14" laptop screen. I also have had a dual monitor setup which is excellent for having a document open on one screen, and working in the other.

As for figuring out wi-fi, I think that you will find that both windows 7 and Os X have easy to use dialogs for connecting, much easier to use than older windows XP or windows 2000.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I understood about every other word of what you're saying.

You know how how they have interior decorators for people who need help decorating their house? They need something like that for technology...a geek/nerd type who examines the tech needs of a client, and then gets the tech and teaches the client how to use it. Of course the client would have to be someone with more money than I have for it to be a profitable business.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You know, Mark, they have these things called contact lenses and lasix surgery to correct vision. People do not have to wear glasses anymore.

Actually, I had contacts but rarely wore them as my vision was usually pretty good without them. (The only thing I have trouble seeing without contacts is very tiny print - for example the exact date on a dime.) But I lost my contacts a couple years ago and haven't bothered replacing them.