iGeneration gadget groove: 10 things to avoid on Cyber Monday
Product: Online paywalled news subscription
Main downfall: Pay to access widely reported free news? Pah.
Reason to avoid: There really is no point in getting news somewhere through a paid, subscription and paywalled service when you can get it elsewhere. Really. I know some people are clingy to their news sources, just as I am, but I would never pay money to essentially fund my own views and opinions from news I can get elsewhere, impartially and written with at least a shred of decency. I'm talking about you, News Corporation.
Product: E-reader and iPad
Main downfall: Not enough academic books available in e-book format
Reason to avoid: It's not that I hate the iPad per se, but it really does not seem to be a hit with students and the Generation Y in general, really. Plus, considering that the Generation Y are not exactly famed for its literary skills as far to say that most people of my generation do not read books all that much. But on the occasion that they do, it'll be for university and studying, and there is still a very limited number of books out there for the iPad, let alone the academic books. Your best bet is to immerse yourself in the library and go from there.
Product: Zune HD
Main downfall: It's not an iPod, and having one will be socially awkward
Reason to avoid: The Zune never really took off outside of the Microsoft campus, to be honest. Ask yourself: have you ever actually seen one in use, in the hands of a fellow citizen consumer? If you have, ask yourself if you have ever seen more than say, two in your life? The digital-rights management has been a stuff up from the start, and downloading music just isn't as fun as using iTunes. Plus, you don't have access to all the cool academic downloads on iTunes U if you use the Zune software.
Product: Any desktop monitorless than 19" in size
Main downfall: It's less than 19" in size
Reason to avoid: Unless you're living in a room the size of a West 38th St. newspaper vendor, then there is absolutely no point in getting a monitor this small. If anything, it would be counter productive. Even if you are plugging it into a netbook as an external display, you can still get much more out of it. You'll want something which can support at least 720p if not 1080i, which is significantly more than a 19" monitor. At least go for something at 21-22" from corner to corner for a big span of desktop space.
Product: Paying for pre-installed bloatware anti-virus
Main downfall: It's disproportionately expensive and on the most part, useless
Reason to avoid: Would you ever trust bloatware? An anti-virus solution pre-installed on your desktop or laptop which says that it's protecting your computer (or not, they vary) but either way, it says that you need to stump up even more money than you've already spent, just to get it going? It's crazy. Uninstall it and forget about it. Push it to the very back of your mind and quash it down as if it never even happened. Think about a free anti-virus solution, because in many cases they're a lot better than the paid, subscription alternative.
Think about getting: a free anti-virus solution, because sometimes they're better than the paid versions.
Product: Cloud storage
Main downfall: Vulnerable to home and potentially foreign counter-terrorism and surveillance laws
Reason to avoid: There are plenty of reasons to avoid cloud storage. You could by accident breach the terms and conditions of the site rendering your account lost and useless. Another reason is that the data is out of your control, unlike an external backup drive. You can never be one hundred percent sure what's going on with your data, how secure it is or who it may be accessible to (such as the US Government, for example). Plus, you could end up paying through your nose for bandwidth costs, as download speeds are usually not bad but uploading stuff will cost a fair bit if you go over your allotted bandwidth.
Think about getting: a fully-fledged external backup drive instead.
Main downfall: Energy costs can be huge; noisy, pointless.
Reason to avoid: It is tempting, I will give you that. But even though in some cases they may not cost that much to buy or even run during the year, but with the state of cheap electronics in the United States (I've been there, I can judge) then the chances are you'll get an energy guzzler. Not only this, but they're noisy too - because a friend of mine had one in my first year of college and I could hear it from down the hall. Turn it off during the night? Yeah, if you want your beer to go cold. You could be spending your money on something more useful; like actual beer, in an actual bar, where there are actual people. A beer fridge just makes you unsociable.
Product: Blunt-object sized laptop
Main downfall: They're huge, clunky, and can be used to kill people with
Reason to avoid: You must have seen those people around campus, or even around town with those huge, chunky laptops which whirr, look tacky and feel flimsy. They're the worst kind of laptops and they should be eradicated from existance. They're mass produced, cheap and nasty and in this picture here, that's Hugh Laurie in 1:1 ratio. That's his actual size in proportion to the laptop next to him is too. Think about getting something which doesn't feel like it's half hollow or about to break at any given opportunity.
Think about getting: a nice, little, compact netbook instead.
Product: Subscription television (like DirecTV or Sky+)
Main downfall: It costs; get television online instead.
Reason to avoid: On-demand television has been the way of the world for quite some time, and I'm surprised at you if you were thinking of getting a set-top box to record television on. Of course it's great watching recorded telly in the comfort of your living room, but for that you should just download the media you want (or watch on-demand through a plug-in) and watch it over your broadband through a media extender. Again with the money: overall it'll probably cost you more, and unless you are plugged into the set-top box like the matrix, you will end up paying more than you should.
Product: USB flash memory drives
Main downfall: Get lost, easy to steal, disproportionally expensive still
Reason to avoid: If you look at how much an external backup drive costs in regards to its memory, compared to a much smaller USB drive with a fraction of the available space, you'll find that USB sticks on the whole are incredibly expensive still for what they do. You end up with a tonne of them, and you forget which drive holds what exactly, and then you'll end up losing the most important one. Unless you have one, massive, expensive one with thumbprint encryption on it or something, then there's just no point. Oh, and you'll have to pay almost triple the cost just for that luxury.
Think about getting: a fully-fledged external backup drive instead.