Four Life-Changing Gadgets - GPS, iPod (MP3) and Tivo (DVR)
USA Today just published their 25 years of 'eureka' moments...their list of the 25 gadgets that changed people's lives. To be clear, these are gadgets, so we're not touting the creation of the MRI here, or the LifeStraw.
There was an article in PCWorld a while back called "The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years," after reading that article I realized that I might be an early adopter.
For me there's
three four devices that have changed my day to day life experience. I could live without cell phones and blackberries, as addictive as they are, but these devices all did one thing and did it well. They ultimately gave me time - the one thing we're all running out of. They say Real Estate is a good investment because "they're not making any more land" (Unless you live in Dubai, where they are actually making more land) but anything that gives me more time, or makes the time I have more useful and enjoyable is a good thing.
In no particular order:
GPS - Handheld Global Positioning Systems
I love my Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS. Love it. We use it all the time and have mounts in both cars and switch it between them. Even though I've lived in this city for 34 years, I don't know every nook and cranny - certainly not in the suburbs. Now, I never get lost. The Nuvi included one free Map Update so I was able to get 2006 v8 Maps for free via a download and automatic update. It has a slot for Add-On Maps (like Europe, or the US if you're in Europe) via SD Card. It speaks the street names, it's a photo viewer, MP3 player and Audible book reader. It even knows when I'm walking, notices, and suggests better routes on foot. All this and it's the size of a deck of cards. My wife loves it as well. All these devices have a high WAF. Even better that good GPS's are in almost all decent cell phones, including the Blackberry Pearl.
MP3 Players (iPod)
Seriously, hasn't your MP3 Player changed your life? While audiophiles with vacuum tubes (and Carl Franklin) are lamenting the death of the Hi-Fi and berating us for buying lossy-compresses "damaged" music I'm enjoying America's Next Top Model on a Video iPod at 30,000 feet. Try that with your RCA Victor. My entire CD collection - every CD I've ever owned - is inside my 80gig iPod, lovingly ripped by RipDigital.com (What? You rip CDs yourself? ;) That's so 2005.). An MP3 player is worth the cost of entry just for the Audiobooks.
Digital Video Recorders (DVR, ReplayTV, Tivo)
When is House on TV? I seriously don't know. It's on whenever I like at my house because I've got the "House Channel." Same with Grey's Anatomy, The Office and Heroes (Heroes Spoiler: Why didn't Peter just fly away himself? It would have saved Nathan the trouble).
Aside: Did you know you can watch FULL Hi-Res episodes of Heroes online for free, as well as download them in even Higher-Res with the Viiv Universal Player? Even MORE amazing, they've got Full Video Cast Commentary in a secondary window for each episode. Brilliant.
I watch them on my time. Sometimes I skip commercials, sometimes not. Sometimes I turn on the captions and watch them in double- or quadruple-speed. We've got the whole season of Signing Time (DVD's just remastered and rereleased and Rachel has a blog also) so my son can do American Sign Language anytime. We always watch the news, even though dinner is at a different time each day. DVRs fundamentally change how we watch TV (if you can get over the "Psychic Weight" of a full DVR and a whole season of Dexter to catch up on.)
Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Meter
I got the results of my blood tests yesterday. Diabetics should have their blood checked for a 3-month indicator of their blood sugar. Pricking your finger tells you your blood sugar at an instant, but the hA1C blood test gives you an idea of how the last three-months have been. You can kind of think of it (simplistically) as a measurement of a percentage of blood cells that are coated in sugar. My value was 5.8% which is at non-diabetic levels. You, Dear Reader, as a likely non-diabetic have an hA1C between 4 and 6. My value is now "high-normal" but still normal. To be clear, I'm VERY diabetic, but I'm managing it so closely that my blood test indicates I'm more or less successfully emulating my damaged pancreas with the insulin pump and continuous meter. I'd be lost without these devices. They've made my life better and allowed me to more easily travel the world.
What's your top four list look like?