The Best Gadgets are the Ones You Actually Use

by TerriRexson

I'm an early adopter, I love my gadgets. But I've had a few that just gather dust. How can you make sure that you buy only the best gadgets, i.e. the ones you will actually use?

How to choose the right gadgets

Yes, I've bought gadgets that I thought I would use and then they sat in a cupboard until they became obsolete. 

But then I have other gadgets that I love and use everyday (like my beloved iPhone.) And other gadgets that come in and out of favor, but are brilliant at the times when I want to use them (like my Wii Fit balance board, wonderful when I manage to make the time.)

How can you make sure you buy the right gadgets? Here are a few tips that I've learned over years of gadget buying:

  • Imagine yourself using the gadget. Visualize when and where you would use it. Sometimes this make you realize a problem, or helps you come up with another use for a gadget. 
  • Ask people who know you well if they think you would use the gadget regularly. 
  • Read reviews of the gadget online. Does the reviewer seem to have the same outlook at you? This can be great for finding out answers to questions you never thought to ask. (Does it eat batteries like candy?)
  • Borrow the gadget from a friend and try it out. Do you still want it?

Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch

It's wonderful (but I'm not ...)
Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch
Wacom, Inc
$60.0  $174.5

My Wacom Bamboo

Why I don't use it

I have a Wacom Bamboo graphic tablet. It's beautiful and works brilliantly, just like all the reviews said. I thought I'd use it for work and hobbies, but I don't. 

Why? Because I'd ignored one important fact. I can't draw! I'm not at all artistic. I can sort of operate a graphics program and create things that are geometrical and visually pleasing. But freehand drawing. No. I tried a few times, but it was just too depressing. 

My Wacom Bamboo has been lent to friends who loved it. And I'm keeping it for my four year old son who luckily has inherited his drawing talent from his father! He absolutely loves drawing and is very technically minded - I think he will make good use of the Wacom in a year or two. So not a total loss. 


What I needed to make use of my Kindle
Kandle by Ozeri LED Book Light in White -- Designed for the Amazon ...
Only $11.87

The Kandle on a Kindle

The Kandle Light on a Kindle
The Kandle Light on a Kindle

My Kindle

A bad gadget purchase turned good

I asked for a Kindle as a Christmas gift when they first came out. I have a lot of physical books, they take up lots of space, but I can't seem to get rid of them, just in case I want to read them again. I love the idea of being able to build up a library of books that don't take up space and that I can access from anywhere. 

But, initially I didn't use my Kindle much. Oh I bought lots of eBooks and read them. But on my iPhone (which syncs wonderfully with the Kindle.) Why? Well at the time I had a small baby, most of my reading time was when I was settling him down to sleep (easy if I stayed in the room) or once I had gone to bed (baby in the room.) The room needed to be dark at these times and the Kindle doesn't have a light. So I used my small iPhone screen. I didn't find a good light that worked with the Kindle at the time. But since that time the Kandle has come out. Just what I needed to stop my Kindle gathering dust. The Kandle clips neatly on top of a Kindle. Now I can read more comfortably on my Kindle in a dark room - great for not disturbing my partner. 

What to do with unloved gadgets

OK, so with the best intentions sometimes you will end up with a gadget that you don't love. It might be a gift of a mistake. What should you do?

Unless you have a good reason to think that you'll make good use of the gadget fairly soon when something changes in your life (e.g. changing job or moving home) then don't put the gadget at the back of a cupboard. 

You could:

  • Sell the gadget on eBay. You should do this sooner rather than later as most gadgets lose value over time. This is actually a good backup option. You can buy a gadget and use it for the initial fun period and then if the shine wears off you can sell it and it has only cost you the difference between purchase and sale prices. 
  • Give it to a friend or family member who will appreciate it. Most people won't mind getting a slightly used gadget as a gift, especially if it's a more generous gift than you would normally give. This is our preferred way of disposing of gadgets when we've moved on to a newer version. 
  • Donate it to a charity (check first what they are able to accept.) We've recently been able to pass on some used items to raise money for our local preschool. 
  • Decide that you want to keep it afterall. Maybe the idea of getting rid of the gadget will remind you why you bought it in the first place and you'll start using it again. Maybe you can think of a way of fixing what is preventing you from using it. Don't kid yourself though, if you don't actually use it, get rid of it. 

Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board

My current favorite gadget
Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board
Only $79.99

Have you bought a gadget and not used it

Updated: 08/06/2011, TerriRexson
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TerriRexson on 08/02/2011

@Jimmie, yes you got it right. I've added a picture to show the Kandle in use.

sidther on 07/31/2011

I am the home where gadgets are donated because all of my friends and family know that they will definitely be used! I have a handful of favorites, and only have had one or two gadgets that I was not that thrilled with- although they have all been repurposed. Right now, the favorite is the Wii, and my no touch can opener (you put it on top of the can and the little gadget spins around the top- not the kid that has a stand). I am a bit disappointed with my old febreeze scent stories machine as all of the stores have stopped carrying the refill disks so it is now gathering dust. I really want one of those drawing tablets!

Jimmie on 07/28/2011

I don't understand the Kandle. Does it clip onto the Kindle? I used mine a lot abroad, but now that we're back in USA and have such access to English books, I've not used it as much. But I do love loading free ebooks onto it to read. It's much easier than reading from the computer screen.

The gadgets I've not used have been gifts. I normally know if something will be used or not.

sheilamarie on 07/27/2011

I like your solutions for getting rid of unused gadgets. Someone else may be amazed at your generosity, as buying something like that is way beyond his or her budget.

mivvy on 07/26/2011

I love your title. I have quite few I don't use, or keep telling myself: I will start using it next week (and of course never do). Should have thought about that before buying them.

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