Required Reading for the Gadget-Obsessed

by Andrew Currie
Any endorsements of, or complaints with, products mentioned in this article are based solely upon the author’s personal experience…




I recently traveled to Montreal to experience my first JUST FOR LAUGHS festival. Feeling a little humbled that I was there to observe rather than to perform, I decided to take along a gadget sure to impress every Hollywood bigshot I’d meet — a state of the art PCS phone, nay, a smart phone, with the ability to receive email forwarded from my ISP. A toy like that would surely go further toward getting me a big development deal than any public display of talent ever could.

What happened instead was that I spent much of the weekend wasting time, money and alienating my friends, because my smart phone didn’t work. Inconceivable as it may seem, the impossible was true: technology had let me down! In my own little world I had experienced firsthand a meltdown of Y2K proportions. I’m not necessarily pointing any fingers toward the wireless carrier that sold me this phone, though I will say that their name rhymes with “hell” and that their website is here.

But I am asking myself “Did I really need to have email forwarded to my PCS phone?”.

Here’s another clue that will steer you in the direction of my obvious premise…

Like thousands of others, a buddy and I scammed a couple of free tickets to the recent COMDEX show in Toronto. I walked into our downtown convention centre eager to see the crme da la crme of smart phones, the Qualcomm pdQ, a phone so damn… smart that a PalmPilot hides within it.

I headed straight for the booth of the only Canadian carrier to support this amazing new device (care to guess who that might be?), only to find out that the folks there couldn’t give me a demo because of a fire that had screwed up their wireless network.

As I held the lifeless pdQ in my hands, I asked someone how much a working model would cost. Time suddenly stood still when I was answered with the words “… About a thousand bucks”.

Did I really need a phone with a PalmPilot hiding within it?

I decided that I didn’t, and opted instead to fork over $200 for an older Palm and $150 for a non-emailable PCS phone. I’m using the other $650 for rent. My PalmPilot Pro was state of the art two years ago, and works great with my two-year old Macintosh. My Clearnet Nokia phone is a brand-new model, but is cheap enough to replace in the event that I lose it, or if someone reading this article decides to rob me. And if I’m pining for forwarded email I can always substitute good ol’ fashioned text messaging, itself a technology two years old.

If you’re going to buy new gadgets, you might as well do it on the cheap, because there will always be something fancier coming down the hype pipe. This can be done in one of two ways. You can go for hardware of the disposable kind, usually identified by funky colours or a small “i” in front of its name. Or you can take to the “previously cared for” market, and join the fuddy-duddy set, sitting on your porch in your rocking chair rambling on about how much better gadgets were in the old days. Chances are, you can still get those “old days” gadgets brand-new!

– AC

Andrew Currie is a Toronto-based actor, writer and comedian. His television show, Improv Heaven & Hell, can be seen in Canada on the Comedy Network.>