Over the years I’ve made a significant investment in home technology and gadgetry. While I’d like to think those purchases were mindfully made and fiscally conservative, the reality is some of them stand out above the rest, and some were downright regretful.
Below are my three best and worst gadget buying decisions based on a combination of cost and usefulness within my digital life.
Amazon Echo Dots
While the Echo Dot is now in its third generation, I have Dots from the first and second throughout various rooms in my house. I’ve never purchased one for full price as most were picked up at around $29 each during Black Friday, Prime Day, or various Amazon deals.
Besides their cost-effective nature, they may provide the most utility of any of the devices in my smart home ecosystem. Whether they turn on the lights, play music, or control my home automation equipment – they can do everything their bigger siblings can, and at a fraction of the cost.
Logitech Harmony Smart Control
The Logitech Harmony Smart Control shares the stage with the Echo Dot and makes this list for many of the same reasons. I’ve never paid full price for one, have multiple hubs throughout my home, can control nearly everything I need through the device.
Where the Echo Dots provide voice control, Logitech’s Harmony line provides physical control of any IR device via a physical remote that connects via RF to the hub. What this means is the remote doesn’t need to be pointed directly at a device for control.
Better yet, the hub’s devices and activities can be imported into Samsung’s SmartThings Hub, which in turn can be imported as devices and actions by your Amazon Echo / Alexa. This enables voice control of nearly every device in your home, including starting and stopping Logitech Harmony activities. I can tell Alexa to “Turn on the TV” to get things started, and then use the physical remote for more complex control.
Vizio M65-D2 TV
It’s now a few years old and I’m unlikely to buy (or even find) another, but when it showed up a few years ago at Nebraska Furniture Mart for $699 (a price mistake that was quickly corrected), I jumped on Vizio’s 65 inch M-Series 4K TV.
It’s not the least expensive TV I’ve ever purchased, but it is my main TV and provides decent black levels, great 4K images, and gets high utilization.
In a couple of years I may wind up upgrading to an OLED TV or a micro-LED set, but for now, it’s a great TV for day and nighttime viewing.
Amazon Dash Wand
My purchase of the Amazon Dash Wand hardly broke the bank. In fact, with the coupon that came with it, it was virtually free. Unfortunately, it also went virtually unused.
I thought the device would be a great way to bring Alexa into the kitchen and use its voice capabilities to fill out my weekly shopping list. Unfortunately, I never used the device for this, or anything for that matter.
The convenience of Alexa is her always-on nature, and clicking a button on the wand (or even remembering it exists) killed the convenience factor. Plus, when my first Echo Show arrived in my kitchen, it became even more unnecessary.
In the end, I wasted only a few bucks and a few batteries, but I would have been better off simply not purchasing it in the first place.
LG 60PB5600 TV
The LG 60PB5600 TV may be the best overall deal amongst all of my technology purchases. Unfortunately, a great deal does very little good if you simply don’t use the TV
LG’s 60PB5600 is a no-frills 60inch Plasma TV that has solid picture quality. I picked it up for $399 at MicroCenter in 2014, which was unheard of for a Plasma TV. Unfortunately, a TV is only valuable if it’s useful, and mine went virtually unused before I sold it earlier this year for $150.
You don’t have to be a math genius to realize losing $250 on a TV isn’t great if it never got used.
Amazon Echo Show (Original)
The first-gen Echo Show proved that voice control and a visual display could co-exist. The device ushered in a new era of video-based voice assistants. I love mine (both of them) and use them pretty consistently. In fact, one of them bumped the aforementioned Amazon Dash Wand out of my kitchen for good.
Then why did it make the list of my biggest regrets?
Because I paid nearly $200 each for them (after discount) and then watched as newer and cheaper versions were released that were even better. Since the first generation was released, Amazon opened the flood gates and let loose on the Echo Spot, Echo Show (Second Generation), and Echo Show 5. Not only are they more versatile and cheaper, but they look better too.
It just goes to show it takes both a great price and high usefulness to really make something a bargain.
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