The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

Summary: I get at least a dozen requests a day to recommend one gadget or another to someone. My response is always the same -- I do not make gadget recommendations.

SHARE:

Having covered mobile technology for years, I am often asked by readers to recommend (or not) a particular gadget. The dozen or so folks asking me to make such a recommendation daily are usually surprised to hear that I don't do that. I don't refuse to do so because I am not a nice guy, there are valid reasons behind my refusal.

Mobile technology is so personal in nature that no one gadget is the right one for everyone. There are simply too many factors that enter into the equation to determine if a very personal device by design is right for any one individual. There will never be the "perfect" gadget because we are all different, and it's also why there is no such thing as the "iPad killer" or "Android killer". What is right for one person can fall short in some areas for others.

The gadget that is special in most areas may fall short in the one area of utmost importance to an individual that disqualifies it from consideration. It doesn't matter how good a gadget or platform may be if it can't do the function that a person needs the most, and in the way that is required. The function is not always obvious, some folks don't realize a device doesn't work until they actually try it.

A gadget can be disqualified by one person for something as simple as a pet peeve. I recently spoke to a person who couldn't stand tablets that had a bezel bigger than a certain size. The pet peeve was so strong that this person couldn't fathom owning a tablet with a bezel that is too big. If I was making a recommendation for a tablet that served this person's needs perfectly but had a bezel that violated his feelings I would be in error and this user would be unhappy with my choice.

Not only does the type of work to be performed with a gadget factor into which one may be acceptable, how and where the work must be done is also significant. A device that seems perfect for an individual is inappropriate if size or sometimes even shape makes it less than ideal for how it might be used.

There are too many criteria factoring into an individual's needs for a gadget for me to ever hit a home run with a recommendation. I am not trying to avoid being wrong to protect my ego, I want to make sure that folks don't spend hard-earned money on a solution that is not adequate for their needs. This is why I prefer to cover devices from a hands-on perspective, explaining how I use them and how well they perform under defined conditions. The reader can hopefully make an informed decision whether the gadget being covered is appropriate for them given their unique situation, or if it falls short.

Mobile gadgets are personal on many levels, and each individual must determine if each one meets all of his/her needs, and in the way that it will be used. The user must be comfortable with a device on every level, and only he/she can know that. It would be presumptuous of me to step in and say that only gadget X meets those needs.

Related:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

39 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    Building on top of what you've laid out here, it seems that users are often blinded from what they actually need or would enjoy by what they think they need or would not enjoy.<br><br>I am an android phone user and have been primarily because I thought I couldn't stand to be part of such a controlled environment as apples app store. But I decided to get an iPad 2 because I could clearly see the devices superiority to the Xoom, the only other worthwhile tablet at the time. I then realized that the quality achieved by apples methods far outweighed the feel-good nature of androids lawless app store.<br><br>Corresponingly, this person who says they can't stand a large bezel will probably end up using a product that is truly deficient to their purpose because of a silly cosmetic hang up. All of this makes suggesting technology to people nearly impossible because not only do you not know what they want, but very commonly we don't know what we want.
    Jhsizemore
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @Jhsizemore Agreed. I have also heard from folks (plural) that can't stand black tablets. It's white or nothing for these folks, a real limiter IMHO.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

        @JamesKendrick

        "I like white tablets. White tablets are cool." Doctor Who
        kenosha77a
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @Jhsizemore And see, I'm the other way around. I started with some iOS devices and thought they were the bee's knees. Then I grabbed an Android phone (as I already had an iPod Touch and iPad 2) and can't imagine how I ever liked the Apple stuff.
      Aerowind
      • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

        @Aerowind To each their own. There are going to be people moving from each to the other. The good thing is that we have choices.
        non-biased
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @Jhsizemore
      I've been recommending gadgets or computers to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances for many years. What I usually do is explain the advantages of three fairly different but top-rated products and let them make the final choice. That gets me off the hook for what they actually choose and by recommending the best three, I'm making sure they are choosing from the least disappointing devices.
      BillDem
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @Jhsizemore
      I couldn't stand to be part of such a controlled environment as apples app store?? WHAT exactly are you missing out on???
      Hasam1991
      • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

        @Hasam1991 I could be mistaken, but I don't think he stated that to be challenged for it. Get over it...
        Joe Davola
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    James you should consider it a compliment to be asked! Your "real world" working out in the field with your tech is so important in making a choice. Choosing the "right" device is so hard today, your readers (including me) are looking for all the help they can get.
    Having said that, I agree with your position.
    willginn
  • Yeah...what HE said...

    So nice to hear someone say something that makes sense instead of the constant "iPhone Killer" or "Android Killer" falderal. No device is perfect for everyone, and it's so much nicer to have personal opinions left out in favor of real specifications and pros/cons.

    Thanks, James!
    JonathanPDX
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    Too bad that you can't rent one for a week or two! You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, would you??
    glen@...
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @glen@...

      In California you have 30 days to return a cell phone for a full refund. It's pretty sweet. However, we have to put up with roads in disrepair, terrible public schools, and a huge state budget deficit, but I guess you can't have it all!
      lippidp
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    Here Here! IMHO, form must follow the function(s) desired and/or required by the user. This may explain why RIM devices are still relevant for many of us that need reliable voice, text and email.
    msl9999
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    Well said. Since I am in the tech industry and so many of my friends are not, they ask me what gadgets, computers, phones, etc that I recommend. I always tell them that they first need to sit down and seriously think about what they want to do with that tool. Unfortunately, most non-technical people I know seem to concentrate on the cool things they might be able to do, rather than the critical things they actually WILL do and end up getting something that does not best satisfy their needs.
    anne.sullivan@...
  • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

    Sensible, very sensible. To each his own tech gadget.

    My wife bought me an iPad for my birthday, and I love it to death and wouldn't be without it. My friend Julie has a cheap Windows 7 tablet, and loves that to death. I've tried her tablet and hate it with a deep and visceral loathing. She has tried mine, and clearly says it is not for her. So am I wrong? Is she wrong? Are we both wrong for not going for an Android tablet? Should we both have got a laptop instead? NO. We are both right, because we have the device that suits US. End of.
    bargeemike
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      ...oh, and I've got this great cover for it. It has the advantage of being slightly cheaper than anything fron the Applestore and has "Don't Panic" printed on the front in big friendly letters.
      bargeemike
      • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

        @bargeemike Oooooooooh, I love it! Where can I get one?
        Dcarm
  • This is exactly what Apple understands

    Apple essentially gives you nothing for an OS. Its a bunch of squares. Other than a few email groupings (which they wouldn't have if it wasn't so populr with Android), there is nothing complicated about the system. It does nothing. Therefore, there is nothing to complain about. It doesn't do anything bad because it just runs other people's programs. Got a problem with a program? That's not the IPad's fault. So the less-is-more works. That should give every product designer a big clue. If you want to make a generation 1 of anything, make it do almost nothing and hype it to the world. I'm not critical of this technique, it works, and its the truth. If you promise or deliver too much, there will be more to complain about. Also, don't say anything about the product until a few deays before launch, so people won't have time to realize what they don't get. Its marketing genius.
    A Gray
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @A Gray
      Say what you want but the iPad is perfect, Apple got it right... and the squares you're thinking of is WP7... Yup ugly lol
      Hasam1991
    • RE: The personal nature of mobile tech: Why I will not recommend any gadget

      @A Gray A very open minded article about one size (device) doesn't fit all and personal preferences are the key yet you have to post your small minded drivel, nice job :-(
      non-biased