You might say I’m addicted to gadgets. I spend more money on gadgets and other electronics per year than I do on virtually anything else. Some of it can be attributed to my work reviewing these little gizmos, but for the most part, it boils down to my passion for things that light up and make life easier.
Unfortunately, not every gadget is worth buying. No matter how useful they might look during an overnight infomercial or splattered across the Sunday edition with a giant red SALE sign, these gadgets just don’t live up to expectations.
In this article, I’ll outline a few types of gadgets that typically don’t pan out in terms of long-term usefulness.
Knock-off products typically don’t carry over the same build quality and efficiency as the original product. You need only look at the knock-off cellphone market to see just how terrible imitation products can be when they attempt to replicate the look and feel of the original.
I’m not talking about gadgets that share features or have a similar user experience, but ones that are intentionally designed to trick the buyer into thinking they’re getting “pretty much the same thing” as the product after which they’re modeled.
You find these gadgets a lot in discount electronics stores. They cost a fraction of the price of the product they mimic, and the cheap injection molding and subpar construction is evident even through the packaging.
So you bought a garlic peeler. Congratulations, you have a gadget that is basically useful for one thing and one thing only. Pizza sheers, cordless wine openers, ice cream makers, and juicers fall into this category.
Don’t get me wrong; there are exceptions. If you’re really, truly dedicated to juicing and cleaning your juicer every day, then it might not be a bad deal for you. If you’re not, it’s a giant waste of money that will fill your kitchen cabinets faster than just about anything else. Meanwhile, there are products that juice, blend, and chop just fine.
I’m even leery of buying clocks and watches that don’t do something other than tell time. These days, there are plenty of great multipurpose watches and clocks that will do everything from giving you the temperature to reading tweets to you while you get ready in the morning. I’ve even found plenty of watches that double as step counters to help you get into shape. Spend top dollar on a piece of technology that has all but been replaced by my phone? Not for me.
Every once in a while, I get a wild notion that I’m going to start “really” working on a side project that I’ve had on the back-burner for months (if not years). I’ll go out and buy gadgets and/or other electronics to support that project only to set them aside and never really accomplish much more than dragging supplies out of my closet. These impulse buys cost money and usually don’t become wise long-term investments.
Likewise, those gadgets being pushed at stores near the checkout area are typically pretty useless. Yes, I said it. How many cigarette lighter flashlights do you really need? When did pocket calculators and flashing tire lights become a necessity? They’re impulse buys and they’re there to get you to spend a few more dollars before leaving the store.
I’ll call a store out on this. Fry’s Electronics is a master of the impulse buy. Before you can get to a register, you have to walk through what feels like a football field length of candy and $10-or-less headphones, flash drives, and screen protectors. Once you finally do make it to the register, there’s another stack of items that you know you’ll never use sitting right there, begging you to take them home. Curse you Fry’s, curse you.