My Tech Top 10: Colleen Quinn
Hi, I’m Colleen, and I’m a design blogger with a technology problem. I often find myself drawn to the quirky lines of vintage tech (I have fond memories of my first computer- a Timex Sinclair 1000) though I confess I usually prefer the utility of more modern pieces. Once I find a piece of tech that I love, I rarely replace it until I absolutely have to, so some of my top 10 are practically dinosaurs these days. I am fortunate that my day job takes me around the world, so I am a sucker for gadgets and gizmos designed to make travel easy and fun. I like to leave the office at the office, so my blogging and other creative endeavors are generally done from the comfort of my couch; thank goodness for laptops and wireless routers!
• Kindle: Though I cannot imagine any e-reader will ever completely replace books for me, the Kindle is nevertheless a lifesaver for anyone who travels. This little wonder device is substantially easier to haul around the world than a stack of books, and if I finish the books I planned for the trip, dowloading to the Kindle is a lot cheaper than scouring the airport bookstore for English language offerings. Lightweight and oh so functional, the Kindle is definitely the biggest surprise piece on my list; when I first got it from Amazon, I never imagined how essential it would become.
• LG LH40 47″ LCD HDTV: OK, I’ll admit that my husband is responsible for this piece of tech, but wow is it pretty. He appreciates the picture quality when watching sports and movies; I love it for all the home shows on BBC Lifestyle (no HGTV in Saudi). This TV is lightweight and super easy to use; toggling back and forth between the various inputs (OSN cable, AFN, DVD, and VCR) is a snap and I definitely notice less blur than in other similar TVs. I never thought I would be a big TV person, but this one has certainly made me a convert.
• Toshiba Satellite M305D S4830: I bought this laptop with the first money I earned blogging so I confess I have a sentimental attachment, but I’ve never once regretted the purchase (even given that the OS is Vista). I bought my first Toshiba laptop in 1998, my second in 2003, and this one in 2008. That first laptop is no longer in use (though it does still run with Windows 98 no less), but the second continues to serve my needs by giving Mom easy access to email, IM and Skype. I love that I can tinker with this laptop if necessary- I already added a chip to max out the memory, and will likely replace the hard drive at least once before I pass this machine along to Mom in a couple of years.
• Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router: Truthfully, I have no particular attachment to this actual router, but man oh man do I love my wireless internet! As I mentioned above, I prefer to do my home computing sitting on the couch so being tethered to a network cable just doesn’t work for me. I’ve had this router for a good number of years; there may be sexier, more powerful options out there, but as long as this keeps working, I’ll keep using it.
• Vtech DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone System:I’m living overseas with a work-issued cell phone, so a landline to call home is essential. When we arrived, the phones in the house were 20 year old former office phones with the shortest cords I have ever seen. After a few days of sitting on the floor in the corner to talk to Mom, I hopped online and picked up this system which comes with 4 handsets and includes a digital answering machine. Sound quality is great even on an overseas call, and the handsets are super-light.
• Remington Sleek n Curl Digital Ceramic Hair Straightener & Revlon Tourmaline Ionic Hair Dryer: Though I dream of being a wash and go kind of girl, my coarse curly hair plus an extremely humid climate makes that an impossibility some days. This hair dryer is great for my hair- the unseen diffuser attachment is a boon on the days I’m embracing the curl. For days when I’m feeling the need for a sleeker do, this ceramic hair straightener is the perfect addition to my morning routine- just one quick pass and even my thick and curly hair is straight and shiny.
• Philips Micro HiFi System: I picked up this compact Philips stereo years ago during a great sale at Target- the optional iPod cradle was included for free! This system has a very small footprint and can also be wall-mounted if space is really at a premium. I love that I can throw in a CD or plug in my iPod; I’ve even had a friend bring over a party mix on a USB thumb drive. Simple and stylish, this stereo was a great find.
• Samsung GO Netbook: I gave my husband this bright orange netbook last Christmas and promptly fell in love. The color, the weight, the fact that it pops inside most of my purses- how could I resist? Now that we are overseas, my husband basically uses this as a desktop with an external monitor and keyboard, but when we travel, it is the perfect little partner to ensure we have access to family and friends back home.
• Rival CrockPot: Between my day job and my online commitments, I rarely find the time during the week to cook, so my Crock Pot is a lifesaver. Throw in a bunch of ingredients in the morning, turn it on low, return home to perfectly cooked dinner- no wonder this technology has stood the test of time! I love soups and stews and curries out of the Crock Pot, and my husband makes a mean beef stroganoff when he’s in the mood. If you haven’t used a slow cooker recently, I highly recommend you give it a try; mine is certainly well worth the cabinet space it occupies.
• Canon Powershot SD800IS: Last but certainly not least, this Canon digital point and shoot is by far my favorite piece of technology. Sleek and lightweight, this camera replaced an older Canon Powershot; I chose it for the image stabilization feature and the variety of preset shooting modes. I love the Night Snapshot and Aquarium options, and the fact that I can force the flash both on and off. Though I would love a digital SLR, the fact is that this tiny camera fits in the back pocket of my jeans and so is the perfect way to capture almost any moment.
Technology/device I’m most looking forward to in 2011: I would love to see Verizon get the iPhone. Though my account is on temporary hold while I’m overseas, I’ve been with Verizon since I first got a cell, and there is no way I’m switching to AT&T even for the iPhone. The other device I would like to see is an Android tablet that can really compete with the iPad. I had an HTC Droid phone before I left the U.S. and would love to see that technology applied to a tablet (though I’ll stick to reading books on my Kindle).
Tech or tech organizational tip: My tip is to consider extending the lifecycle of your tech when you can. Before replacing a computer, try maxing out the memory and adding a new harddrive. Before you buy any new device, ask whether you need it or just want it- a hard distinction to make sometimes for folks who are technophiles. When you do decide to replace a piece of tech, try to pass it along to family, friends or charity rather than just tossing it in the trash. If you truly can’t find anyone who wants a given item, there are recycling options which can at least reduce the environmental impact of the disposal.
I never leave home without: My Canon Powershot SD800IS. It is always in my purse or pocket, ready to capture the perfect sunset, a funny moment with friends, or even proof that my car was not in fact parked in a no parking zone (yep- I successfully challenged an expensive DC parking ticket thanks to this camera). This point and shoot is small yet mighty, a real winner in my book!