Yesterday while visiting a loft for a house tour for our city sister site, Apartment Therapy Los Angeles, the person whose homes I was photographing and I began discussing the issue of accumulating things...things we need vs. the things we want. The conversation mostly revolved around the topic of knowing when to stop adding more things into your home. But then that got me thinking specifically how the ideas apply to a realm where owning the latest and greatest often means owning more than what you need: home technology....
I've noted I'm prone to redundancy of ownership of certain technologies. For example, I own an iPod Touch, Shuffle, and Nano. Why? Well, I rationalized initially I'd be fine with the screen-less Shuffle for running/gym, but then soon upgraded to the slightly larger Nano because the inclusion of a screen seemed an improvement. But a little while after, I moved over to the Touch because...well...because I was trying to make myself feel better I wasn't getting myself an iPhone. This was a bad case of over-buying when one device could suffice, although to my credit I still use all three in various and specific situations as intended.
In similar fashion, I own two digital cameras: one, a larger DSLR for professional work, sidekicked with a smaller pocket camera for everyday travels, hiking and personal photos. Do I really need two cameras? No, but each fulfills a duty in my life that I've convinced myself as useful, if not necessary. The same can be said for our two screen household, where an LCD screen hangs on the wall, while a larger 92" pull down projector screen above it provides a cinematic experience when desired. The rationalization is a LCD is better for daytime use and preserving the bulb on the precious DLP projector, the larger screen saved for the watching movies. But once again, in reality the redundancy is pure luxury.
Don't get me started on remote controls (and yes, I own a "universal" remote).
A few friends own multiple cell phones, one for work and one for personal. Other friends have a multitude of gaming consoles, while others seem to believe they're a CERN lab, with more computers in their household than fingers on their hand. Sometimes it's just a case of purchasing something new and not ridding/selling/donating the previous version. Other times it's just loving the idea of having options. But it is interesting when we stop to take inventory of how much we accumulate, not just in tech gear, but in overall "stuff" (especially for many where the garage, attics and closets is where we hide our deepest secrets and our most shameful purchases).
In any case, I began wondering if I was to whittle down my tech possessions to just three items, what would they be. I think we could easily live without the television/projector (we don't subscribe to cable and depend on streaming media or iTunes at this time, but probably average somewhere in the ballpark of 2 hours of viewing). I just purchased a GPS unit, but this is more of insurance for travel than a necessity. I love my vintage home audio system, but to be honest, both Emily and I listen to most of our music collection from a digital source instead of from the collection of vinyl we've held onto. So when it comes down to it, the three home tech or appliance I've deemed essential in my life are:
Between those three devices, I've got home audio, video, gaming, communications, online connection and various other functions covered. Two of the three also are actual necessities for my professional field, so they made the cut by default. I could probably even drop the Touch off that list, as the functions are redundant with the inclusion of a laptop. So a camera and a computer...those are the only two things I now realize are real necessities in the scope of my personal and professional life. Huh...and this whole time I thought I just had to have that panini press and 12 remote controls.
If you were to boil down your tech possessions to three essential items, which would they be?