I am a technophile. There, I’ve said it. But I don’t need a twelve-step program. I embrace what I am and I’m proud of it. My wife is also a technophile, and for that matter, so are our children. We love technology and new gadgets; in fact, we’re what you’d call “early adopters” of new technology. Assuming that the technology is something we can afford. Since we’re not wealthy we will not be among those that pay a large premium for the newest and most wonderful new bit of high tech. On the other hand, we’re far away from being the last people on the block to get the new gadget.
In our house, you’ll find the latest high definition television and DVR in the living room, as part of a home theater that I built and installed myself. One key to being able to live as a technophile is to either be independently wealthy, or to be willing and able to figure out how to build, repair, upgrade and maintain things on your own. I follow this latter route since I have avoided becoming wealthy. The advantage of my path is that when one of my friend’s gadgets break and he or she buys new ones, sometimes my friend will give me the older broken one, which usually turns out to be easily fixable, at least when you know what you’re doing. That’s the way I got first an X-Box and then the new and improved X-Box 360. I may be a technophile, but I hate spending money, even on those occasions when I happen to have money. With a wife and three teenage daughters that happens about as often as you might imagine.
Same with computers. I have learned to repair and upgrade them myself. I can take a bunch of cast off parts from broken machines and turn them into something that works. So each of my daughters, my wife and I have our own desktop computers, all networked together and with access to broadband internet. We think of the duct tape and bailing wire as a fashion statement.
With our telephones, I went the voice over internet protocol route because I could save significantly over what our local phone company could offer. Now I can call anywhere in the United States and most places in Europe for one low fee. This worked out great for me when I got the book deal a couple of years ago from the publisher in Great Britain. Calling and faxing my London editor costs me nothing extra. I like that.
I must admit, however, that sometimes getting technology when it is new or cutting edge is not the best choice. For instance, with part of our tax refund about ten or more years ago, we replaced an old TV with a High Definition TV. We did this for two reasons. Back in 1996, our television was a 25 inch Montgomery Ward model that we had purchased about two years after we had gotten married. This was way back when Ronald Reagan was still president. It had stopped working and so the time was right to buy a new one. We’d been reading about High Definition television for awhile and we thought we should embrace the new rather than sticking with the cheaper old, and so, when we found a good deal on a 47 inch projection TV that also happened to be High Definition, we purchased it.
On the surface this was perhaps an odd choice: our cable company at the time offered no high definition channels at all. In fact, high definition channels on any system, satellite or cable, were hard to come by. But we knew high definition was the coming thing. So, for the first two or three years we had the new TV, we had no high definition signals to give it. Our friends most likely were laughing at us, but we were embracing the future. We knew our day would come.
And it finally did, but about then we added a DVR to our entertainment mix –specifically a TiVo given to us by my inlaws. The DVR could not handle high definition signals, so if we wanted to use the DVR, we couldn’t watch the high def broadcasts. Using our TV became very complicated, involving multiple remote controls and several cable switches. But we like fiddling with gadgets, so it worked for us.
Another problem with being an early adopter soon showed itself, however. The technology for high definition made some important improvements in the intervening years. High def got better—better than what our TV would be able to resolve; worse, the preferred way of hooking high def to a TV and other audio video equipment became the HDMI cable—something our first generation high def TV simply didn’t have.
About three years ago, we finally upgraded to the current generation of equipment and passed on our old high def television to my sister-in-law. We’d like to believe that our new setup will last us for awhile. So far, so good.
Although I’m starting to read now about fancy 3-D high definition systems.
Which illustrates the other problem with being an early adopter and a technophile. You never arrive at the end. There’s always something newer and better on the way—and usually, it turns out to cost half what you just paid for what you thought was the latest and greatest.