Device Round-Up and Tech Decisions



Apple released a new operating system update this week so it’s a good time to talk about iStuff! I bought an iPad Mini when they came out last November and I’m now a certified fanboy. Prior to that, I didn’t have a smartphone, an e-reader or a tablet, so it serves as an all-in-one for me.

Most people I know fall into one of three device camps. They have:

  • A top-of-the-line smartphone which they rely on for everything (Internet access, e-books, banking, photos)
  • A smartphone, an e-reader, a tablet, a laptop and a digital camera – selecting the best device for each purpose
  • A laptop, a digital camera and a basic phone for talk/text only. This counts as a low-tech profile these days!
My Nifty Devices

My Nifty Devices

I currently have just 3 devices: a laptop, the iPad Mini, and an iPod Classic. I recently gave up my work cell phone and now have to think about cell phone plans for the first time in 9 years! During that time I didn’t carry a personal cell phone since I was allowed to use my work phone for reasonable personal use.

Instead of focusing in on a new phone, I am evaluating my tech needs (i.e., wants!)

First of all, do I need Internet access everywhere I go? When I bought the iPad, I decided I didn’t. I got the wireless version and not the cell data version. I have Internet access at home, at work, and at wireless spots, so I decided that was enough. Therefore, I don’t need a data plan on a smartphone either.

Of course, in buying an iPad, I recognized that I wanted to have some personal computing capability with me everywhere I went.

My mobile phone needs are ridiculously low. Since I had a work-only phone for so many years, I didn’t share the number much, and everyone in my personal life was “trained” not to call me on it! As a result, I probably only send and receive about 10 texts a month and use about 10 minutes of air time. I doubt that my habits will change overnight or that I’ll start getting deluged with calls and texts.

I’ve decided to buy a used or cheap not-very-smartphone and use it with a SIM card and a pay-as-you-go plan for $10-20 a month. I don’t think I’ll get frustrated with the limitations of a basic phone, and I don’t think I’ll be tempted by cool apps because I can already get them on my iPad.

My laptop is 5 years old and has Windows Vista but I am in no hurry to “upgrade” to Windows 8 (scoff!) So I will definitely use it until it is completely dead and then panic about being forced to use Windows 8. I can’t see switching to a Mac because they seem so overpriced, but on the other hand, I have been thrilled with Apple’s other products, so I will keep an open mind.

My Cameras (photo taken with Rom's camera!)

My Cameras (photo taken with Rom’s camera!)

I have two digital cameras, a point-and-shoot and a DSLR, both from Canon. Yes, I feel the need to have a little portable one (bought long before the iPad) and a serious one. The big camera is outdated. Six is old in camera years!  I can no longer tolerate having to use the tiny eye-piece to take the photos, and I need to compose the photos on an LCD screen! I am planning to replace the camera body. Fortunately the lenses and accessories will all still be usable with the new one. I will continue with Canon for that reason. The controls and features on their whole line-up are so similar that I won’t have to re-learn anything. Always a perk!

Apple will be announcing its iPad Mini 2 next month, and it will certainly have the retina display. I won’t be upgrading my one-year-old device! I’ll probably hold out until I decide I need round-the-clock Internet access everywhere I go. That day will surely come. Then I’ll get a new iPad with a data plan. I might get the full-sized iPad because it can be used comfortably for more work and productivity – the Mini doesn’t quite cut it for documents and spreadsheets (or for composing lengthy blog posts like mine!)

I haven’t yet evolved (or devolved) into the kind of person who plays with their phone every time they are waiting or bored. At most, I read an e-book! But the times, they are a-changin’, and not-so-slowly, so am I.

What devices are essential for you? Are you planning any upgrades soon?

Note: Not a sponsored post; I just like this stuff )


  1. Jodi

    I have never owned a personal cell phone, but I had a work one until 3 years ago. I have a laptop and digital camera. This year I bought a kobo mini and it is just for reading e-books. I am happy to be a low tech person.

    • Jodi, can you direct me to any sites to help with setting up a Kobo Mini? One of my library customers has one and all of the staff are stumped by it and haven’t been able to get it going!

  2. I have a smart phone,given to me, that I pay $10 a month for. it has replaced paper calendars, paper reminder notes, camera, and most of the time my radio. The only other gadget I have is my notebook. I am pretty simple, and no desire to keep track of more gadgets.I have a kindle app on both devices, if I’m on the go it’s nice to know I have a book with me by having it on my phone.

    • I was out looking at phone options this afternoon and came back with a low-cost smartphone that I will be using on a $15/month pay-as-you-go plan.

      • Dar, $15 a month for a pay as you go is good! My one daughter-in-law just switched to one and pay $50 a month because she’s attached to her phone,big time. Seems crazy to me, you might as well have a land line, but then she can’t text on a land line.

        I am fortunate that my son works for a cell phone provider and as a store manager, his phone is free, after that he can add up to 5 lines with unlimited everything for $10 per month. So he signed me up, canceled my previous contract (which had poor reception) and handed me a used phone. When one goes bad he simply gives me an old one from him or his wife, or on the rare occasion one a customer gave back when upgrading. I love that I get used every time. 🙂

      • Wow, that’s one heckuva deal for you! Nice!

  3. Ok, I admit this is a tech-full house and I love the MacBook Pro and would not want to go back. Apple has a way of doing that to you. Insidious! My husband has a computer science background and technology is just a part of the package deal in this marriage 🙂

    • Haha, my spouse is an IT Guy too and we have a houseful of electronics; I only listed my personal portable stuff 🙂 Dare I ask you to tell me what you like about the MacBook Pro?

      • Sure… prior to this we had various Dell computers. Always got viruses, despite up to date anti-virus programs. No more viruses, or slow, cranking away hard drives. Just like the other Apple products, the MacBook always works as it should. Now my husband still gets to mess with his parents’ PCs, which also get viruses and strange problems all the time.

      • Mine is not fond of having to do tech support at home on a regular basis!

  4. Fiona

    I love the robots and the little sticker on your laptop! It is so much fun looking at new tech stuff. That sounds like a good plan with the phone – very economical but enough features, especially when combined with the iPad Mini. I have a $19 per month plan and I love it! It has as much “talk and text” as I need…I don’t feel like I have to scrimp and save or monitor usage but have never yet gone “over-allowance”. The phone plans seem to be getting a bit more generous than they were even 2 years ago.

    • I agree. Pay–as-you-go was slow to catch on in Canada because of the providers aggressively promoting 3-year contracts. I like the option because I don’t use the phone much, and hate overpaying for services I’m not using!

  5. I think of myself as not that into technology…but then I thought about what I own..hmm! Smartphone (because there was a £10 a month contract for a smartphone what was as good/better than previous contract) iPad (which I am typing on now), Kindle, laptop, Digital SLR!

    I like having the smartphone because of the apps- record calories, water intake, use WhatsApp to chat to my friends for free (phone is attached to the home wireless). I sometimes use the small data package to use the internet when out and about…I also use the camera on it a lot- it has essentially taken over the point and shoot role for me.

    I could probably do without the iPad and the Kindle- my Kindle is one of the basic ones that is just an e-reader, though, and is much nicer to read on than a backlit screen. I recently had to replace my old desktop (iPad doesn’t cut it for typing large amounts or downloading my photos from DSLR!) and got a laptop, on the basis that if the iPad subsequently ‘dies’, I won’t replace it, because both my laptop and phone give me the portability of the iPad.

    I am tempted by the Mac laptop option, although I am not 100% convinced that everything is always compatible with Macs… In any case, I won’t be replacing my laptop for years!

    • Funny, while I don’t have a lot of devices, I do consider myself into technology. I always want to know what’s new and how devices are improving and changing. I’m just slow to actually buy them. You’re right, one thing I didn’t think of is that a laptop is essential for downloading, editing and organizing DSLR photos! I am used to using apps on my iPad so we’ll see if I end up using the phone apps much as well.

  6. laura / move to portugal

    We’re not a very techy house! We have a basic pc and a basic laptop that’s falling apart. I do have an iphone 4S but will be changing to a Sim only plan at the end of the year. I love my phone but don’t need one with all the trimmings – no upgrade for me. Having said all that we’ll probably replace the laptop with an ipad very soon, but not the latest edition!
    Books? I still like the real kind :0)

    • Yep, I’ve decided a SIM plan is the way to go – for me, anyway. As Nicole mentioned, an iPad is not a full replacement for a laptop because it’s not great for doing a lot of typing or data entry, the document and spreadsheet handling is not as good, and it isn’t intended for photo downloads from another camera. I would say an iPad is more like a combination of a mobile phone (without the phone) and a netbook – great for apps and Internet browsing. Plus it would get you hooked on e-books! At the library I am careful not to refer to e-books as less “real” in case I insult any customers, so I refer to the old-fashioned kind as Print Books. Although I always have one e-book on the go, I still love print. Especially since e-books can’t really be shared with anyone else (at least outside your own household).

  7. EcoCatLady

    You’re making me feel like a dinosaur. I have a landline and a desktop. I can’t imagine trying to do meaningful work on a laptop, notebook or tablet. Maybe it’s because for me “meaningful work” means either graphic design/photo editing, for which a large monitor and graphics pad are essential, or it means writing – which I just can’t do without a full sized ergonomic keyboard.

    I still think of my cordless headset phone (for the landline) as groovy new technology, but maybe not. I do have an ancient cell phone (no camera, no nothin’ just an old flip phone that I got for free when my even older phone died) and I pay $10 every 3 months just to keep it active on it’s prepaid plan, but I’ve only used up that much once or twice when the landline was out. Other than that, I just carry it for emergencies. I couldn’t send a text message if my life depended on it!

    CatMan got me a tablet for my birthday this year, but it’s never left my house, and I have no intention of bringing it with me anywhere, unless something very out of character happens in my life. It’s fun for watching Netflix in bed, looking up words when CatMan and I are reading in Spanish, or quickly checking a recipe when I’m in the kitchen, but that’s about all I use it for. Perhaps the fact that I’m home all the time influences all of this.

    I never thought of my cameras as technology, since I use them primarily for work. I have both a DSLR and a small point and shoot (so I can photograph things I encounter while out on bike rides). To be honest, I HATE those LCD screens. They’re OK for indoor shots, but outside in the sunshine I can’t see a friggin’ thing! I literally feel like I’m shooting blind! Got any tips on that front?

    • I don’t have any tips on shooting using an LCD screen – I’ve just become used to it with the point-and-shoot camera. I find it a lot easier to compose and focus using the screen. It sounds like the technology you use makes sense for you – the point of all the new gadgets is that they’re portable, and if you are home-based, they would be largely unnecessary! I agree you absolutely need a desktop or laptop for the computer use you outlined. I use a laptop with a full-size keyboard plugged in because, like you, I do a lot of writing.

  8. Just this past December, I bought my own (used) laptop (my husband and I used to share one). It’s so nice to not have to wait my turn! haha We also share a point and shoot camera and I have a basic phone. I wrote about possibly jumping on the smartphone bandwagon here:
    but I’m just not sure. I don’t want to spend more time on an electronic device than I do now and that will be tough once I carry internet access around in my pocket.

    • Since I already carry an iPad Mini around with me, I knew that a smartphone wouldn’t cause me to become an anti-social tech head 🙂 I have to confess that I am vain. I looked at the free phones and $50 phones that weren’t smartphones and I just said nope, I will not carry a flip phone! So I paid for the least expensive smartphone which was a Nokia Windows 8 phone. I thought I would hate it because I am used to the Apple interface, but it’s actually really easy to use and I’m liking it fine. I don’t actually take my iPad everywhere I go, so it’s nice to have access to wireless on the phone when I’m out and about. I bought a SIM card and a pay-as-you-go plan (no contract) and no data plan. I think this set-up is going to work for me.

  9. The one thing I don’t have is a smart phone – Im cell phone resistant. 🙂 However, I do have the laptop, camera and ipad and love them all.

    • Have you had any social or family pressure to get your own cell phone, or have you ever wished you’d had one for an emergency? My very first cell phone was used for calling the daycare when I was running late due to evening traffic chaos.

      • I do have a phone, but it’s about 5 years out of date, always turned off and generally lying dead in the bottom of my purse. Most of the time I don’t want to be that reachable, but I suppose the day will come when I buckle under family pressure and get an updated phone and actually use it. I don’t know if I’d ever get enough use out of it to make up for the cost though.

      • Haha, that’s usually the condition my work cell phone was in! Coincidence?

  10. Lisa

    Low-techie here – verging on being left behind I sometimes fear. I have a laptop, which I plug into a monitor and keyboard a fair bit, and a basic digital camera. I had a basic cell phone when I worked. My husband’s laptop is 6 years old and we may think about replacing it when it dies with a tablet for portability…maybe. I am on the darn internet/computer enough without carrying it around with me too. I like print books and I wonder what all this ‘screen-time’ is doing to our eyes etc. so I have not gone to an e-reader. Added to all of this, is my frugal (ok, cheap) ways, and concerns about tech waste on the environment. Yep, I am the dinosaur!

    • I share your concerns about tech waste. I recycled my (non-functioning) desktop when I got the laptop. I have gone through two previous point-and-shoot digital cameras before the current one. If I upgrade my DSLR I may be able to sell the old one. I gave my work phone back to the office for someone else to continue using. I would have liked to buy a used personal cell phone, but there weren’t any reconditioned phones for sale that were compatible with provider plans I could tolerate. I decided not to buy a used phone on eBay or Kijiji in case I got a dud. So, I ended up with a new phone. I purposely bought a Nokia even though it’s a Windows phone because Nokia is the only company that ethically sources the rare metals in its phones. Finally, I suppose if I ever upgrade my iPad, someone will want to buy it for their child or senior parent 🙂

  11. I love my iPhone, but I don’t love the way I bought it on a plan! Luckily the two year contract will be up next month and instead of upgrading to an iPhone 5, like they keep suggesting I do, I will switch my phone over to another company that charges half what I’m paying now. Hopefully the phone will be good for another couple of years.

    I also have a laptop, kindle, tablet and SLR camera, so I guess I’m a bit of a tech-head 🙂 The laptop is essential for work (but is mine) and is over three years old now and getting slow. Between work and blogging, it’s usually on about 10 hours a day, so I am starting to think of getting a new one.

    Do you have a home phone? Most of my friends who are renting don’t have home phones, so we use our mobiles for all calls (although obviously you don’t NEED a smartphone for that!).

    • It’s hard to get an iPhone without a plan because it costs so much to buy the phone outright! It will be nice for you when you can switch plans. Yes, I have a home phone – I don’t talk on any kind of phone very much, but haven’t really considered giving it up. If you get a new laptop, will it be Windows 8 or a Mac?

  12. Juhli

    I’m in the minimal tech objects group at the moment – a pay as you go cellphone that can do internet and texting but those functions are clunky compared to an iphone. A basic Kindle just for reading and a desktop computer that is brand new out of necessity since the very old one died. I saw the iPad mini with cell service in action this weekend though and I am now in the severe wanting stage LOL.

    • Every once in a while I get cravings for Internet access everywhere I go, so I could check prices, reviews, directions, etc when not in a wireless zone. But the thought of the $45+ per month data plan quickly gets me over it!

  13. I love and hate technology in equal measure! I have the oldest phone – pay as you go and put about £20 on for the year! I think only my hubby and 2 daughters have the number anyway. We are having to get a new phone soon but it is a minefield out there when you have been used to something pretty basic. For some reason they just don’t interest me. Now an Apple computer / laptop would be something else – I could spend a day looking at those.

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