Julie’s Gadget Diary – I think I’m having a mid-life tech crisis

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I think I’m starting to sound like the grumpy old gadget woman lately, but today’s Apple iPad mini event did not excite me any more than last month’s iPhone 5 announcement. If you recall, I decided NOT to buy an iPhone 5. I dumped my iPhone 4S and defected over to camp Android with a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S3. After more than a month with this new phone, I can honestly say that I haven’t missed the iPhone at all. So back to today… I went into the Apple event (figuratively, not literally) hoping to come out on the other side wanting to pre-order a iPad mini and a 13″ Macbook Air with a Retina display. 

First let’s talk about the iPad mini. I barely use my 3rd gen iPad. Which by the way is old news now that it’s 7 long months old and today was  replaced by the 4th gen iPad. My main use for the iPad has been to test styluses and as a travel companion. Since I don’t travel all that often, it mostly sits unused on my desk. I considered the mini thinking I might like to take it with me to work every day since it would be smaller and lighter than the full sized iPad. But, I sit in front of a 24″ LCD display with a laptop connected to the net for 8hrs each day. I seriously doubt the iPad mini would ever need to leave my bag… I was also disappointed to see that it doesn’t include a Retina display, but in all honesty, I just prefer a tablet with a 10″ display so that I don’t have to do a lot of pinching and zooming when surfing. So I went into the event today feeling pretty sure I wouldn’t be interested in the mini and I came out feeling the same way. If the mini had a Retina display and a digitizer like the Samsung Galaxy Note with the S-pen, I would be ordering one.

Then there’s my laptop situation… I have a very soon to be 2yr old 13″ Macbook Air, which has become my main / only computer after I traded in my almost 3yr old 27″ iMac to PowerMax for credit. I absolutely love the size, weight and battery life on the MBA, but the display does have me squinting now and then. So I was hoping for a 13″ MBA with a Retina display, but no such luck. Apple decides to offer a 13″ MBP with retina instead. Since they have updated almost every piece of hardware they sell EXCEPT for the Macbook Air, it makes me wonder if the MBA is going to be phased out.

The thought has crossed my mind that I should trade in my MBA and also Jeanne’s almost 3yr old 15″ MBP to PowerMax while I can still get a nice chunk of credit (they really do pay well and it’s very hassle free) and sit on that credit while I take an Apple vacation. I use Windows 7 at my day job, but haven’t used a Windows machine at home for years. It would be an interesting experiment to see if I could be happy without OSX. Windows laptops certainly give you more bang for your buck and truth be told, I spend 99% of my time in a browser or Photoshop. I can do that on either platform.

Anyone else having a mid-life tech crisis too? Or am I here in my own little confused gadget world? 🙂

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38 thoughts on “Julie’s Gadget Diary – I think I’m having a mid-life tech crisis”

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  2. would a retina 13″-pro not suit you as much as well as your 13 air? They’ve slimmed it down and will run much quicker as well…

    I hear you about the new iPads and iPhone. Im an iOS-guy and its been feeling stale for years now. One big thing that has kept me from Android is OS-fragmentation. Im addicted to clicking the software update button, and if my phone had ICS and i wasn’t able to update to “Jellybean” when it was available for other models, i would go postal!!!!

    question… did you pre-order the Surface-RT ? 😉

    1. @anson The 13″ MBP w/Retina is probably overkill for what I need. It’s also .5 lbs heavier than my MBA. I might end up with one at some point, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering one soon.

    1. @Frank I do a lot of image editing with Photoshop for review images. Not sure how the Chromebook would handle that kind of task. I’ve not tried any web based image editors in a long time.

  3. On the possibility of a Retina iPad Mini: I am not surprised they didn’t do this. Not only would it probably pushed the cost unacceptably high, but it would make the iPad Mini have an even higher pixel density than the iPad 3/4 since the screen is smaller. On the other side of this, 1024×768 will still look a lot better on a 7″ tablet than on a 10″, so the Mini should be good for reading.

    I tend to agree with you Julie about the Chromebook. Image editing seems like it would be a problem… even an equivalently cheap Windows laptop (like the $300 Acers I always see at Best Buy, that have something like an AMD A6 and 4GB of RAM) would do a better job.

  4. I spend about 50% of my time in Photoshop / 30% InDesign / 20% Illustrator for my job. I have been using a Mac since Day One (bought an SE/30 in 1989). I’m just too entrenched in the Apple eco-system to change now. I don’t have the flexibility others have, plus I don’t want to have to relearn anything.
    I guess that makes me a hopeless fanboy.

  5. Its not midlife – its mono-culture. Soviets waited in line for toilet paper, it wasn’t soft but it was better than a bare hand. Come over to the open competition worlds of Android and Linux where softness and 2-ply reign without waiting in line 😉

  6. Julie– You’re definitely not alone. I’ve been using all 3 major desktop OSes (Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu) for years now, plus I have an iPad and an Android phone. But I’m getting tired of being all over map, and I’m trying to finally settle on one ecosystem. For all its faults, the Apple/iTunes ecosystem has been the most seamless and efficient for me. Music and video management on Android is more difficult for me, by comparison. Not to mention Android’s bizarre fractured memory structure that takes me back to the horrible days of Windows Mobile.

  7. Julie,
    You are not alone at all. I found many years ago that the thrill of going to Fry’s was gone. BestBuy no longer had secret things I did not already know about. CompUSA is gone. Even a search on Amazon or eBay produces nothing new. I have all of the good toys. And the “new” ones are often not new or different enough to raise an eyebrow.
    I miss the days where I could wander the isles of these stores and find something I had never heard of, and HAD to buy. But at least now I know that I am not alone.

  8. Julie– I am with you all the way on this. There just is no “oomph” to send me [and my money] down to the Apple Store.
    I think they are in a re-positioning mode, re: iPads timed for XMas, getting out the new dock connector, etc. The Mini was a “gotta do it now” kind of thing against the impact of the Nexus7 and Amazon offerings, and they tied a bunch of other stuff to its coat-tails.
    We have a loadout of new toys in almost every category. They will see what works and sells and then next year put their oomph there. Imagine the hype for a yearly Fall Apple mega event? … like getting the Sears catalog when we dinosaurs were kids. It would really pump the Holiday sales.

  9. @anson, if you want Android and the latest get the Google Nexus devices. You get updates as Google releases them. They’re for sale at very good prices in the Google Play store.

  10. I’ve got the same feeling.

    iPhone5 …
    no, my iPhone4 is still well functioning. 1 year old now.

    iPad4 …
    no, heck, my iPad3 is only a couple months old (and now it’s already out-dated)!

    iPad-mini … iPod-maxi …
    well, maybe if I didn’t already had an iPad3 and iPhone4.
    Then I might combine my old Nokia E90 as my phone and my internet-hotspot with this iPod-maxi, like I did for some time combining the E90 with my iPod-touch-3.

    I really miss a proper USB-port on my iPad3. Just once and a while I want to hook up some peripherals to the iPad without much ado. Not possible alas.

    I’ve got a Mac mini at home which is great for surfing the web.
    It’s always on, yet uses very little energy when in sleeping mode.
    No hussle with virussen, updates etc.
    It saves me SO MUCH time as compared to my old Windows-pc’s (which my kids so often got jammed up because of some online game or what ever they were doing).
    BUT for professional stuff, I prefer (and work with it at my job) MS-Windows and MS-office.

    And, last but not least … I hate iTunes … yet have to use it to get my stuff on my iPad and iPhone.
    I would so much prefer to simply click and drag some files into a folder instead of all the hussling with that drag of a app iTunes.

  11. Julie,

    The details of the exact products aren’t important. It’s the unrelenting march to “new and better.”

    I always wondered why my grandmother, who could easily have afforded a color television with a remote, kept her old black and white that she had to get up to adjust. Or her rotary phone when push buttons were first introduced.

    She just didn’t see the need for something “new and better” when she was familiar and happy with the old gadgets.

    I feel the same about my 3-year-old HD television. Sure it doesn’t have built-in internet and all the other bells and whistles that the newer ones have. But I am used to what I have. If I want to surf the net on the couch, I move the laptop over.

    I think, as we get older, we reach a tipping point where we don’t want to accumulate new stuff which will mean changing comfortable habits.

    It’s tough for someone like you whose occupation is looking at and evaluating “new and better.” The allure of settling into old habits is tempting. But we need you up on the front lines!

    1. @Sandee I don’t think there’s any worry that I am going to settle into using old tech. I will always be interested in the latest and greatest. That’s the problem. Nothing feels new and cool to me right now. Like Gene says, the only thing that I’m pining for is a Galaxy Note (10.1) for me. And that’s because it has that S-Pen, which I’ve never tried and think might be cool. As for laptops, my MBA is cool because it’s so thin, light and has excellent battery life. But I’ve been using it for 2yrs now and it’s … well… a little boring. I got bored with my iPhone, so I switched to Android. Now that I’m getting bored with Apple, it’s really tempting to jump to something else. The ASUS Taichi looks pretty interesting with the 2 sided display feature.

  12. Right now the only thing I’m pining for is a Galaxy Note 2 but not at a price of a high performance laptop. I’ll wait until the price comes down and the 64 gig model is available.

    I now have a Galaxy Note and don’t know what I would do without it. For me it’s the perfect travel companion and my days of lugging around a laptop are over.

    I just ordered a ‘like new’ Galaxy Tab 7 Plus for $225 and will use that for ebooks and GPS programs. With so many improvements coming out and the high prices one could go broke trying to keep up with the latest.

  13. I think the problem is, that you, like me, like to learn new stuff. And the new apple offerings, although new, the o/s is the same, so there’s nothing new to learn or tweak. Hence the samsung phone, lack of desire on the ipad mini, etc.

    What I just did, was put a Samsung 128gig SSD into my MBP 15″, as the main boot drive. It’s a mid 2010 mbp. Time from 1st hitting the power button to the pw screen? 25 sec. Once the pw is entered and enter pressed? 5 sec. So a cold start now takes 30 secs!!!!!! I’m running mt lion as well 10.8.2.

    Now when I start Aperture, it starts instantly.

    What do you think about my idea (learning new stuff?). And my addition of the ssd, the optical drive becomes an external drive, total cost was $100.

  14. Ronald, I bought a little dongle from amazon that connects to the ipad that has a sd slot and a usb slot. I think you can only use it to load pictures (that’s all I’ve tried), but it was cheap and it works.


  15. It’s always sounded to me that the enjoyment you received from technology was in trying new things; the chance to tinker with new devices and explore new and different ways of using them. That, at least, was how I felt for many years. About a dozen years ago I finally lost interest in computers and bought my first Mac. As time went on I noticed, much as Chris earlier, that after years of dreams of digitizing my entire LP collection, ripping every DVD and CD, automating my home and life, I was no longer fascinated by technology. I came to realize I actually did very little with my “toys”. The vast majority of them have long since been sold off while they still had value to somebody. The last real gadget I bought was the original iPad. It didn’t change my life but I enjoy the few things I use it for. My 3 year old MacBook will last me at least as long as the iMac my daughter inherited (going on 7 years). My 2 year old Nokia N8-00 happily still does everything and more that I need a phone to do.

    Perhaps the reason you’re losing interest in Apple products is because they quite definitely don’t provide new and exciting experiences. The iPod, iPhone and iPad were all fascinating when they were new concepts, but they were ultimately all designed to intentionally not be techie in order to appeal to a mainstream market.

    Or, perhaps you are simply reaching a point in your life where technology is no longer going to provide you the thrills it once did. If, or when, that happens, take it from me, it’s not that bad. I quite enjoy putting those LPs on my 30 year old turntable.

  16. i’m still pretty happy and excited with all the apple products and new gadgets, but i guess everyone deserves a bit of grumpiness…. 🙂 just don’t let it get the best of you… keep that smile…. joel

  17. Been there…I had problems with the 11″ Air display. The toolbar fonts are tiny. I was able to go to a lower resolution on the 13″ Air and scale up the font size, but decided to stick with my 2009 MacBook Pro. So, I upgraded it recently to a 256 SSD and 8GB of ram (very simple) hopefully extending the useful life for another year, or two. Still using my iPad 2 with no issues, the resolution is fine for my uses. I’m getting the iPad mini since I’m now retired (forced unfortunately) and can see the mini as being handier than the full size iPad.

  18. I agree. The new iPad Mini is like an old rerun on TV. I was excited until I heard the announcement and price. Not buying. And have been waiting a year for something better than my HTC One, so they come out with the HTC One-X. Oh please, I am bored!

    1. @Stephen and others. I think that’s pretty much the problem. I’m just bored because there’s nothing new and exciting going on. I think it’s time to shake things up a little at Gadgeteer HQ and take a break from Apple for awhile. I don’t think the break will “stick”, but who knows… 🙂

  19. Well, I’ve had Palms, Psions, Windows Mobile, PCs, laptops, PowerBook, Android PDAs, Nexus 7, iPad, iPod touch, tried Win8 RC, all but the latest Kindle e-ink devices, switched between Google and Hotmail, Skydrive and Google Drive, Laridian and OliveTree.

    For a while I thought i was totally mixed up, confused, could not make a decision. Then I realized, I was just having fun. Buy, then sell, lose a little money on ebay, make some occasionally, and just enjoy the new gadgets. Some stick, other don’t. Some were productive, others were just interesting “been there, done that”.

    Live in the moment. Technology is a journey, not a destination.

  20. From the looks of what Apple has released recently, I think yes they are going to discontinue the MBA as a separate product. There is very little differentiation at this point between a MBA and a MBP, and the MBP is moving to close that gap.

  21. We think that many gadgets has gotten to the point of being MORE than “good enough” for everyday needs.

    Our 2008 17″ MBP is running OSX 10.8.2 just fine. After maxing out the RAM and putting in a 128GB Flash drive, it is still plenty snappy and responsive.

    The iPad2 still lasts all day and works just fine.
    The iPhone4 does everything we want.

    We are left with the realization that we are fully satisfied gadget-wise…so why upgrade?

  22. My tech mid-life crisis came in 2007. I was getting ready to upgrade my 5.5 year old Sony Vaio desktop. I figured I would just put together my own computer and install Vista. Then I saw Vista in action. Then I thought about how tired I got at the thought of putting together a PC and futzing with it. Until that point, my main reason for getting a PC was games but then I realized I didn’t really play games much anymore. I went with 24″ iMac and have never looked back.

    I don’t need exciting doodads to play with anymore. I just want something that is stable and works. Do I need a 3D TV? No, my 55″ 1080p TV works fine. Do I need a receiver with 150 watts per channel and 8.1 surround sound? No, my 5.1 setup from 1999 works great.

    I guess what I am getting at is that I am more impressed with the overall package then some checklist.

  23. Julie,
    I saw the site has a few articles about 3D printers, but do YOU have one yet? Soon as you start inventing things to solve your own problems, the thrill of NEW may just come back..

    1. @Chris I do not have a 3D printer, but boy do I think they are very cool. I’d probably use one to make all kinds of little robot figures… Darn you for making me think about that… Off to google I go to see how much the cost 😉

  24. @Julie, you may want to play around with the sevices at Shapeways before commuting to your own 3D-printer. Lots of cool designs on the site for purchasing as well

  25. Ronald,

    Between File Explorer and Dropbox I never use iTunes to get media on the iPad. If you have a wireless network you never have to plug it in to iTunes. Hope that helps.

  26. I am having my tech crisis as well. I am 42 and started out with a VIC 20. I too have wondered the isles of tech stores and lusted after things I have seen there but those days are gone. My Galaxy Nexus phone works great, and my nexus 7 pad is perfect for my uses. The only tech I see that I really want is a padfone (not likely coming to USA.

    My next project will be to convert an old arcade cabinet to a MAME/HTPC It will be a long term project that will help keep me interested in tech, and have me learn some things as well.

  27. Hubert from Belgium

    I am now 62, bought my first Macintosh 128 on October 4th, 1984. I followed all the Apple developments in the 80’s and 90’s.
    In 1995 our family business transformed into an internet business, but never ledt the Apple computers, even rhe XServes are still humming innour datacenter.
    The last few years, all the new tech stuff, i let my sons and employees discover….
    Only when the iPhone came, i jumped in again. Due to my eyes getting worse, i was glad when iPad1 arrived, for not zooming in anymore.
    Though, still happy with my iPhone4S, but feeling the need for a speedier iPad, i’ll probably go soon for the iPad4 now.

    Oh yeah, since 4 months I am driving a 100% electric car, (made possible through early invested Apple Stock)
    and since two,weeks studying an online Stanford University course about photovoltaic…

    My point: it doesn’t matter if you get tired about some new gadgets, as long as your brain remains curious, because:

    sooner or later you will be touched again by something new.

    Stay sound and safe!

  28. I went through this a year ago and left Android and moved back to Apple. I missed Android a little bit but definitely not the fragmentation with the phones, so I bought a Nexus 7 to get my Android fix. Apple is definitely not that exciting, but for the most part their products are stable and reliable and they work very well together. As I get older and have to dedicate more time to family commitments, that stability comes in very handy.

  29. Julie, you are not alone i scroll through GADGETEER with a furrowed brow expecting to find the “useful new” gadget but leave generally disappointed.

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