Wednesday, 6 June 2012

My Top Three Essential Gadgets

I’ve been thinking a lot about technology recently. This has been inspired by my reluctant acceptance that the great BlackBerry renaissance is not going to come. There will be no killer app, or new software update that rescues the once-great gadget from the doldrums. So it was with a heavy heart that I accepted the inevitable switch to the iPhone. To be fair this sadness was ameliorated by the fact that the iPhone is really rather great and does things that the BlackBerry could only dream of – crazy things like looking at something on the internet.

Inspired by this I’ve been trying to think of the three essential pieces of equipment and gadgetry that I couldn’t live without and after much gnashing of teeth I think I’ve got it narrowed down.
In no particular order then…


The trade off when you start using a smartphone is to accept that it doesn’t do any of the individual tasks better than a dedicated machine – you’d still pick up a phone to call someone by choice, but it does more or less everything you need pretty well. Email, web, texts, calls – all handled by one device – that’s amazing. Then you factor in that with apps you can watch SkyGo and take pictures and video and the whole thing fits in your pocket. That’s really quite an incredible device that it feels like we're already starting to take for granted.

So I’m officially a convert to the iPhone and have even got an iPad coming. But the one thing that I have to accept is that they are delicate. I’ll retain some dignity by omitting to say how I smashed the back of my iPhone but it taught me to accept that it will almost certainly break and that if a smartphone is an essential gadget then that’s probably only with the addition of some sort of Kevlar-based case.


From high-tech to low-tech. Yes, the simple machine that raises the temperature of water to 100 oC and not a lot else, makes it into my top three. Why? Well, this is more for my day-to-day functioning than anything else. To say that I have a caffeine addiction is perhaps an over-statement but it has been said that at certain points of the day that I’m more espresso than man. I’ve always drunk coffee and frankly it can’t be strong enough. In a normal-sized mug I’ll have one and a half tablespoons of instant coffee. The true test of whether it’s strong enough is that if it’s a white mug, if you tilt the mug (away from you, I hasten to add) then the top of the coffee shouldn’t be transparent.

At home I’ve got a Miele built-in espresso maker and when I get up in the morning it's an act of magic to press a button and get freshly ground coffee delivered to you. I usually have what you’d describe as four single espressos before I leave the house, then I have at least four mugs of coffee during the day. The caffeine consumption stops when I leave work and I never touch the stuff in the evenings but I dread to think of a de-caffeinated existence. How do people do it?


Again, not something that you would necessarily characterise as a gadget, but it’s certainly a machine born of technology and it’s essential in so many ways to me that I thought I’d include it. Clearly, the car has a practical value in that it allows me to travel to and from work. This is especially important for me because I need to see the sea, I get jaded very quickly if I’m denied access to the sea so being able to commute into Sale is essential.

So why a car, why not the train? Well, on the few occasions I’ve got the train in I’ve found that the absolute lack of anything to do means that I’m not able to access that level of meditation that you need to do some really productive thinking. Whilst you have to concentrate when you’re driving, it only really requires a basic level of processing. It was the same when I used to spin. The act of doing something simple seems to enable me to concentrate more and I find my most valuable thinking time is when I’m driving.

So there it is – the three bits of technology that help me to exist – what about you? What three pieces of gadgetry or technology couldn’t you live without?


  1. I have to say that for me it's:

    1. The mobile phone - e-mail, twitter, calls and texts all on the one device.

    2. The laptop computer - the phone is great up to a point, but when you need to update a spreadsheet or do something just a little more complicated then you need the laptop... plus it allows me to work from home when I need to.

    3. The microwave - Not only can it heat my favourite caffiene based products, it also does a smashing hot chocolate and reheats food. A kettle is good, a microwave is more flexible.


  2. My three bits of technology that contribute to my life
    1) The ball point pen- nothing it like it for when you really need to get a thought down on paper
    2) Knitting needles (does this count?) a life saver to destress and clear my mind
    3) And finally the internet for keeping in touch at the press of a button!