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Christmas Electronics - Know What You’re Getting Into

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 7:26 AM in , , ,
The one thing that is sure to botch up Christmas morning is an electronic gift. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here. Everyone is a good mood opening presents delighted with the new laptop or cell phone or iPod and then the inevitable happens. It doesn’t work. It’s incompatible with your operating system or a part is missing or you were too tired to read the instructions properly so you messed up the installation. Electronic presents are an invitation to frayed tempers and general crankiness. Yet we keep on giving these because they’re flashy and they say that we care about the person enough to spend a lot of money on him or her.

It goes without saying that some of you who read this column will be swayed, as I am, by flashy television advertising and will be in the market for a cell phone, camera, iPod, etc. I know that I was fairly impressed with my American niece’s iPhone and started dropping a lot of hints to my long-suffering family…until I found out that hidden cost of the iPhone, The Plan.

I am a fairly light cell phone user. During the week, I hardly use it at all as I have a well functioning land line both at home and at work. I tend to turn it off. Teenagers and young adults do not understand this as they keep their cell phones perpetually on and forget to charge the battery. This is something that adults fail to understand when they try to call their children. It is an electronic generation gap.

The other part of the cell phone generation gap is cost. Neither of my adult children have a land line which is sensible because they are always on the go. So they are used to spending probably well over $70.00 a month for their phones. Given that my phone is usually turned off, $70.00 seems exorbitant but that’s what it will cost me to keep an iPhone alive, according to a column by the Globe & Mail and that’s just the minimum. It will cost more if I want to have voicemail on my phone (something that I like to have with a 90 year old father in New York City) and a reasonable texting plan which I need for my children who don’t live in the Townships anymore. Needless to say, I will be replacing my cell phone with something other than an iPhone though it saddens me as it is great to text with and you have easy access to the Internet everywhere with it - if that’s what you want.

In the camera area, I must say that I am very impressed with my little Canon Powershot. If you know someone who is about to go on a trip, it’s a great little camera. The photos are reasonably sharp and the camera is very easy to learn to use. I got it just before I went to India, played with it for one weekend, and was banging off pictures for the rest of the trip.

The small size is a real advantage. I have become accustomed to lugging heavy SLR cameras whenever I want to take pictures and though these give you amazing versatility and a wide range of options when you take pictures, they are huge and when you take a picture, you stick out like a sore thumb.
When I travel, I like to take candid pictures of people on the street. India was great for this. With a small camera, I was often able to take the shot quickly and slip the camera back in my purse. The Powershot is light weight and its automatic functions make it very easy to do this. It’s true that the folks who had a heavy Nike SLR came back with sharper photos of the Taj Mahal but the bonus for me was two weeks of comfortable travel without a sore shoulder. Besides, I got some very nice shots of the Taj Mahal too so I’m not complaining.

So if you must shop for electronics, I’d say that a digital camera is a safe bet for a more relaxed Christmas morning but be warned that cell phones are a gift that keeps on taking all year long and make sure that you know what you’re getting into.

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