Dumb Tech You Don't Need

A complete list of some of the dumbest tech you don't need and shouldn't pay for.

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Matt Anderson's Take
We live in a world filled with technology and some of it can actually make our lives better. Unfortunately, manufacturers have to constantly push out new tech to replace the devices we just purchased to keep making ridiculous amounts of money. So, how are you to know what tech is worth upgrading or paying extra for and what is simply modern day snake oil? Follow along as we list the dumbest ideas in tech.

The Latest iThing


We officially live in a world of $1,000 iPhones. But do you really need the latest iThing? Of course not! Why spend hundreds more simply because it's the newest thing. Consider buying a device that's 1 or even 2 generations (often years) behind the most cutting edge model. You'll save a bundle and it will still do everything you need. This is also a good way to save money and live beneath your means (see Financial Wisdom: Live Beneath Your Means). Don't be an iSheep!

Fancy Phone Designs


It's amazing how the biggest news in new phones is often the design. As if one design of any given phone is really much different from the next. They're all rectangular bricks, people! Don't be fulled by the media and tech sites that claim the latest phone design is cutting edge and different because it has a different bezel that's a millimeter smaller than the last model. Considering you're going to put a case on your phone anyhow, the design really makes absolutely no difference! And this logic really applies to more than phones. Does it really matter what the device (phone, laptop, tablet, desktop computer, router, etc) looks like? Nope.

Big Mega Pixel Cameras


Remember when digital cameras first came out? Back then, going from a 1 to 2 megapixel camera was a big deal. Even jumps into the 5, 8, and maybe even 10 megapixel range were important advances for photographers. While megapixel counts still keep growing, we've hit a wall in their usefulness. An 8 megapixel camera is a good resolution for most people with 10 megapixels often being plenty for even higher end photographers. Once you get above 10 (or, especially 12) things get pretty pointless. You don't need an 18 megapixel camera because the average user doesn't need the extra resolution. Besides, it won't help with all of those crappy selfies you post anyhow.

High Resolution Phone Screens


This is another level of insanity. Remember the "Retina Display" which was Apple's fancy way of saying they had a high resolution display? Well, pretty much all phones have a high resolution display but offering anything above HD resolution (1920x1080 pixels or so) is pointless for most people. We certainly don't need 4K phone screens. Think about it, if you have an HD TV that's 40-70 inches in size it works just fine at 1920x1080, right? Now scale all those pixels down to a 5 inch screen and things still look great. Why on earth would you need more pixels? It's just marketing hype so don't pay extra for a high resolution phone screen over one with a more normal, HD resolution.

The Thinnest Devices


This was another big marketing ploy by the big phone makers as they battle over how thin their phones are. Often, the battles were a difference of a millimeter or fractions of a millimeter. Considering you're putting a case on your phone and adding back several millimeters of thickness anyhow, why would you care if the new phone is 0.3mm thinner? Besides, the thinner the phone the weaker it is likely to be and thus more likely to bend when in your pocket.

Rounded Phone Displays


Remember that famous Jurassic Park quote, "our scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." That seems to have applied to phone engineers as well when they came up with curved screens. The most common curved screen being those that round over the sides of the phone. Companies like Samsung are really trying to convince you that you need this extra screen real estate but you don't. Skip it.

Smart Appliances


Smart appliances have been all the rage for years now and while they are becoming more mainstream we can't help but wonder why. Do you really need a refrigerator that connects to your wifi? Sure, you can change the temperature inside via your phone or get alerts if the door is left open but will you ever use those features? I have a "smart" refrigerator and I can tell you those features get turned off quickly because they're pointless.

This doesn't mean all appliances should remain dumb. For example, the Nest Thermostat is a great example of a device that can benefit from being smart. Just note that the Nest is the exception, not the rule. You won't need a smart dishwasher, microwave, oven, or washer and dryer.

LED Filled Peripherals


Ever walk through a tech store and noticed all of the items with fun lights and displays on them? Maybe it's a computer mouse that lights up in a zillion colors. Maybe it's a router that has an color, touchscreen display on it. Certainly these items are better than what you have? Well, that's what the manufacturers want you to believe but they're basically the same. Don't pay extra for lights and displays you'll only use once. In most cases, those lights will be more annoying than fun in the long run.

Curved TVs


This is another fad that started not too long ago, the curved TV. Considering the original TVs (tube style) were highly curved and we were all so excited to have "flat screens" it's sort of ironic that curved is back in. It's the circle of life in action. There might be a case for a curved TV, if they were absolutely huge (100 inches and up). But they're not, they're usually 40-60 inches and having a curve at that size doesn't create the immersive experiences manufacturers will have you believe. Besides, they look terrible hanging on flat walls. For more on this topic be sure to read Curved TVs: To Buy Or Not To Buy.

8K TVs


You've heard of HD, that's the typical 1920x1080 pixel count that most of our TVs have today. You've probably even heard of 4K which is the same as taking 4 HD TVs (in terms of pixel count) and stacking them 2 across and 2 down. Well, now we have 8K TVs which is the same as, you guessed it, putting 8 HD TVs togher (4 across, 4 down). It makes for a very high resolution display with an amazing picture.

So what's the problem? Simple, there is no 8K content. While you won't be running to buy an 8K TV any time soon (they're insanely expensive) this is one to not even worry about years down the road. Why you ask? Because 4K has been around for a while now and there is very little 4K content to actually watch on your TV. Sure, you can get some movies on Blu Ray in 4K and even streaming services like YouTube and Netflix offer some 4K content. But the bulk of stuff we all watch is still in HD. It will take many more years for 4K to truly become the new standard in broadcast / cable / satellite / streaming which means 8K won't be popular for many years after that.

Smartwatches & Wearables


A friend got an Apple Watch when they came out. He was so excited to show it off and all that it could do. First up was making a phone call on the watch rather than the phone (though the phone had to be nearby of course). Turns out, the audio quality (both ways) was terrible. We tried many calls in many different areas and they all sucked. But then he told me how great it was to be able to just look at his wrist to see the time, rather than pulling out his watch. Well, a $2 Casio does that. Oh, but he can also get his alerts and emails but had to find those reading glasses to see the tiny screen. But he can swim with it because it's waterproof and it will record distances and laps. Only, it's so expensive he's afraid to take it in the water.

Other wearables aren't as expensive as Apple Watches but they're all pointless. Why do you need to constantly monitor how many steps you take, how many laps you swim, or check your heart rate while plowing through a bag of spicy Doritos while watching Netflix on your couch? It's silly and unnecessary. Skip this fad.
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