8 Tech Turkeys To Avoid As Gifts - InformationWeek

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11/25/2014
08:36 AM
Doug Henschen
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8 Tech Turkeys To Avoid As Gifts

Is your holiday shopping list full of smartphones, robots, and drones? Here's our advice on what gadgets not to buy.
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It's that consumerist time of year again. Halloween was barely over before we started seeing TV commercials with Santa shilling everything from toys to luxury automobiles. As always, tech gear will be high on plenty of shopping lists this holiday season. But before you go online or head off to the mall or big-box store, pause to think about the message your gift will send.

Thinking about buying your loved one of these hot fitness wearables? What you're really saying is, "You've really let yourself go." The not-so-secret truth about these sensor-based devices is that users will soon sense boredom as they log largely the same data and behavior patterns, day after day and week after week. It may take a week or it may take a month, but sooner or later, that fob or wristband is going to end up in a drawer. Not to rain on the wearables parade, but anybody with a tad of self-awareness knows when they've been sitting on their butt too long and when they've been eating too much.

At the other extreme are those (mostly youthful) sports enthusiasts and adventurers. But if you really love them, don't give them one of those sports and action cameras. That's just an invitation to injury. Before you know it they'll take up rock climbing or try a skateboard trick that will send them straight to the hospital.

Wish lists seem to get longer each year, but don't try to save money by buying no-name-brand copies of Bluetooth speakers or low-cost versions of high-demand toys such as drones or robots. What you're really saying is, "I don't care about you enough to buy the best." Then there are the electronics that will end up on a shelf and, later, a table at the next garage sale. Digital picture frames and docking devices are high on this list, obviated by smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth connectivity, and always-changing device-connection and charger standards.

What do some of these gift choices say about you? It could be that you have a callous disregard for other people's feelings, that you're a penny pincher, or that you failed to learn that sometimes it's best to buy fewer-but-better presents. If the high-quality drone or Bluetooth speaker is just too expensive, just say no rather than buying a cheap knockoff that will only disappoint.

Our best advice is to shop local when you can, buy quality, and don't spend too much time online or in malls stockpiling presents. Make do with gadgets that are more than adequate, and donate some of the bucks you save to charity. When you do replace and retire old electronics, sell them online or recycle them if they're no longer worth anything.

Read on for our advice on what presents not to buy, and we'll save your reputation as a sensitive spouse, a wise parent, and a good buddy.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and do yourself a favor: Spend more time with family and friends than shopping carts this season.

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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12/1/2014 | 10:08:01 AM
The Numbers Are In

"Even as more stores opened their doors on Thanksgiving, hoping for a jump start to the holiday season, an initial reading suggested that combined sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell 0.5 percent from the same period last year.

"Online sales on Thanksgiving Day increased 14.3 percent, while sales on Black Friday were up 9.5 percent. Sales from mobile devices jumped over 25 percent on both days, the company said. People logging onto shopping sites from their smartphones or tablets accounted for over half of all online traffic on Thursday, and almost half of traffic on Friday, IBM said." - New York Times, November 30, 2014

 

 

 

Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
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11/30/2014 | 6:44:21 PM
Re: The themes on how to buy
Every one of my family members needs to see this summary, Doug. Especially #2.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
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11/30/2014 | 6:41:39 PM
Digital picture frame
I have one still sitting in my basement from several years ago that I still can't get myself to regift. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
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11/26/2014 | 11:00:44 AM
Re: Good advice, Doug
Alison, I did the same in the military. However, nursing is a 24/7/365 profession for a good reason. No one HAS to shop for TVs or sweaters on Thanksgiving. I can see having a pharmacy open in case someone needs medication. But beyond that, retailers are just prioritizing greed over their employees' personal lives.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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11/26/2014 | 10:40:29 AM
Re: Good advice, Doug
When I was in my 20s, a single nurse friend always volunteered to work Thanksgiving and Christmas -- and in return, she got New Year's Eve and New Year's Day off. She didn't mind giving up the family-oriented holidays so her married-with-children colleagues could enjoy those days with their spouses and kids, but she wanted to go out and party til the wee hours on Dec. 31 -- then spend the next day recuperating. It apparently worked well for her, since she did it for years, until she too became a married-with-children nurse!
impactnow
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impactnow,
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11/25/2014 | 12:50:17 PM
Re: Good advice, Doug
Most animals agree that opening on Thanksgiving does not impact the bottom line of retailers . It simply results in sharing potential customers on Thursday and Friday . That said true shopping aficionados realize the best bargains are not on Black Friday but several weeks into the holiday season so sit tight enjoy your turkey and leave the fighting those who don't know any better . Get your best buys weekend before Christmas . I do love you vice about the types of gadgets though so many become dated so quickly and not worth the investment . What appears to be the best today becomes outdated within the year so I go for something that is good but not the best knowing that it will also be on the shelf in a short period of time .
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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11/25/2014 | 11:54:45 AM
Re: Good advice, Doug
I bartended through college and, while I took off Christmas because I traveled to see my family, I always worked on Thanksgiving (Thursdays - Saturdays were my regular nights) and I loved it. People were usually in a great mood; they'd spent time with family or friends -- and had broken free to bend an elbow -- so typically tipped really well! That's a bit different from retail in that nobody was waiting on line for hours in search of a particular bargain, but it still meant employees tore themselves away from Thanksgiving tables to wait on other people. Everyone who worked the holidays did so voluntarily, although nobody got time-and-a-half because we all worked for tips.

I've been asking retail employees whether they're happy to work on Thanksgiving. Most have said they are because they're working shorter shifts and/or getting paid extra. I went to Target last Thanksgiving because of a great deal they offered and the mood - among employees and customers - was kinda fun; this year I won't, because we have family in town. It will be interesting to see the sales figures for the day. The proof will definitely be in the receipts -- or they won't. If sales are healthy, then expect to see more stores open in 2015. If they're not, then the number of those declining to open on Thanksgiving 2015 will expand, but not necessarily because they find the concept morally reprehensible. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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11/25/2014 | 11:14:02 AM
Re: Good advice, Doug
I don't believe most people want to shop on the holiday. Emergency workers have always had to work yes, and we should be grateful that they do. But lots of people get caught in this open on the holiday trend...from older workers to teenagers, they will be told they will lose their retail jobs if they don't work on the holiday. And I am tired of hearing today's teens should be "grateful" for putting up with being treated like crap. They have pressures we never faced. Vote with your wallets, folks.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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11/25/2014 | 10:29:10 AM
Re: One Digital Frame Exception
@BearOmaha, interesting. who makes that frame? Also here's a plea: Don't tell grandparents your kids want a tech item for the holiday unless you are specific. The techies in your family will be called in for a consult. I am currently trying to convince someone NOT to buy cheap bluetooth headphones.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2014 | 10:21:39 AM
Re: What does this say about me?
That's a good investment, Doug. Sonos speakers rock.
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