WHY I DON’T WANT A SMART PHONE, TABLET, or eREADER



There’s a plethora of writing about how more stuff leads to more work. Get something new, first figure out how it works, then maintain it, and finally, fix it when it breaks.

Who wants more work?

In a previous article I wrote a controversial piece about Why I Don’t Want an IPad. In that article, I compared the

MORE TECHNOLOGY PLEASE?

functionality of my laptop with an IPad and proved how superior the laptop is for my purposes.

MY CONFESSION:

My phone is a cheap old LG model. My plan, a $20.00 per month, no annual contract, Virgin bare bones with 400 minutes per month. And guess what, I use my phone to make and receive calls and an occasional text. That’s it. No internet surfing, game playing, movie watching etc. In fact, my work and blogging requires an inordinate amount of time on-line. For blogging, portfolio management, and everything else, I have a laptop and a desktop. Additionally, I’ve got video and digital cameras. And that’s enough for me.

RECENT VISIT TO BIG BOX ELECTRONICS RETAILER

In preparation for a conference call with Jason, of LiveRealNow, I purchased a webcam and speakers for my “bottom of the line” desktop computer. While in the store, I decided to get behind the buzz on the Amazon Fire eReader and the tablet computers. I was toying with the idea of putting one on my holiday gift list.

Here’s my Synopsis

The Amazon Fire is reasonably priced and good if you want an eReader that can also surf the net. With no USB port or word processing software, it’s of no use to me as I wanted a tool to do a bit of online writing and editing. Additionally, I’m so old shool, I read actual magazines and books!

On to the tablet computers. I checked out an Acer, due to the low price and recommendation of the sales person. What do you expect from a personal finance geek? It had a USB port and the availability to do some word processing along with all the other content viewing, game playing, and internet surfing options. But when I went to type on the keyboard, the sales person said you really need to type with only one or two fingers. Now that’s some slow typing.

The games I play are usually actual games like scrabble, rummykub, and trivial pursuit! I watch a real television. My computer work is done on computers. And, I don’t need access to any more technology when I’m out and about.

I actually try to experience life through real not virtual experiences!

I don’t need to be on-line with my phone either. I don’t need to check my email when I’m away from the computer. NOTHING IS THAT IMPORTANT!

This is one area where I’m going to be behind the curve.

TIME VERSUS MONEY

Look, I like technology as much as the next; can you say 2 Facebook pages (please LIKE me), twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, and all the other social media accounts. But when it comes down to my time and money, I weigh my options.

TIME-As I said before, I’m online too much as it is. Don’t need a phone, eReader, or tablet for that!

MONEY-Why should I pay upwards of $75.00 a month or more for a phone service that isn’t ultimately of value to me? I don’t need to shell out several hundred bucks for one more electronic gadget, that won’t improve my life and may up my stress level.

What do you think? Am I just a dinosaur or am I missing something really valuable from the new technology offerings?

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41 Responses to WHY I DON’T WANT A SMART PHONE, TABLET, or eREADER
  1. Moneycone
    January 2, 2012 | 9:04 am

    We have something in common Barb! I don’t own a smartphone either! I don’t need to surf or check emails when I’m driving! Drivers around can thank me! :)

    Happy New Year Barb!

  2. Six Figure Investor
    January 2, 2012 | 9:39 am

    Here’s a summary of the efficiency of various devices.

    100% – what you can accomplish with desktop.
    98% – what you can accomplish with a laptop.
    95% – what you can accomplish with an iPad.
    93% – what you can accomplish with a smartphone.

    The smartphone has a few limitations, but gets you things that you can’t do with a PC easily. Such as Pandora, portable casual gaming, reading at the airport, built in support for tweeting anything, taking photos/putting them anywhere.

    Yes, you will have to pry my smartphone from my cold dead hands.

  3. Roshawn @ Watson Inc
    January 2, 2012 | 9:57 am

    I own a smart phone and love it, but MC and drivers will thank me because I am not a fan of texting and emailing while driving. I completely agree with your assessment regarding eReaders and tablets, but I need to make a distinction: I am a fan of tablet computers, but I am not a fan tablets as a dedicated media consumption device. Like you my time is precious. I do not want to suck resources, time and money, into that kind of device purely for media consumption. Fortunately, with netbooks and good deals on laptops, you can get much more bang for your buck!!!!

  4. krantcents
    January 2, 2012 | 10:53 am

    I am very comfortable being a dinosaur! I use my 4-5 year cell phone to make and receive calls only. No texting or internet. I am on the internet over 75-80 hours a week as it is, I do not need more! I will need a compelling reason to change, so far I do not have one.

  5. Barb
    January 2, 2012 | 11:22 am

    @Moneycone, @Kratcents- I am afraid to say that we are part of a shrinking minority! El carino has a smart phone, and I admit it’s not as “seamless” as you would imagine. There’s a learning curve there too.
    @Six figure, Although I am definitely a “self promoter” I don’t want pictures of my private life all over the place. As a telecommuter, I’m rarely far from my desktop or laptop.
    @Roshawn- I also think synching all the devices, as I create a lot of content, seems like a pain. But the netbooks do look really cute!

  6. Eduardo
    January 2, 2012 | 12:14 pm

    I think it’s a personal choice and you have your valid reasons not to buy any of these toys. My experience is quite different. I bought a Kindle (the normal e-reader, not the Fire) a few years ago when I had to travel abroad for a few months for work. I couldn’t carry any books, so it was my only choice…
    In terms of the tablet, I don’t have one, but bought one for my wife as a gift one month ago. She is an internet heavy user and her laptop, with almost 4 years with us, had already deteriorated. We’re happy. Of course, I bought one of the cheap ones that could offer the surfing experience without much more, given the use it would have.
    Not having any of them wasn’t an issue for us… however, the situation might change and push you to taking the decision…

  7. 20's Finances
    January 2, 2012 | 1:31 pm

    I recently got an IPAD. I love the weight for traveling, but my efficiency decreases slightly. If I had to choose (while at home), I would choose the laptop over the IPAD, but it’s weight beats it out any time for traveling.

  8. Barb
    January 2, 2012 | 2:19 pm

    @Eduardo, Excellent evaluation of making the choices that fit your family. That’s all about the “personal” in personal finance.
    @20′s, I completely understand. I do feel the weight of my laptop as I travel, but I overlook the weight because I prefer working on the laptop for it’s functionality.

  9. Andrea @SoOverDebt
    January 2, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    I’m a little bit of a technology addict – I’m never far from my iPhone or iPad (or both). My productivity increases tremendously when I have more options – for example, I’ve written posts on my phone while waiting in the line of cars to pick up my son from school. For me, the benefits far outweigh the costs. That said, I understand that the way I do things doesn’t work for everyone. And I don’t get upset when someone prefers not to tether themselves to a device all day. But I DO encourage devices when someone is complaining about things that could be solved with a smartphone or tablet!

    For example, my mom refuses to use a computer. She finds them intimidating and is terrified of “breaking something,” yet she wanted to be able to send emails, look up recipes, and shop online. So we got her an iPad last year for Mother’s Day and she’s hooked. For the things she wants to do, it’s perfect.

    People can be very defensive about their devices, to the point of cramming the need for them down others’ throats. I just don’t get excited – if people need them and can afford them, get them. If not, don’t.

  10. Barb
    January 2, 2012 | 5:10 pm

    @Andrea- So well put! My mom loves the telephone. I mean talking on a land line. She stopped using her computer because she is tied to face to face and voice to voice communication!! To each their own.
    The idea of writing a post on your phone seems kind of tough with the tiny keyboards, but you make a compelling point.

  11. Robert @ The College Investor
    January 3, 2012 | 2:18 am

    I’m also a diehard iPhone user! It does so much to keep me organized, I just couldn’t give it up!

  12. Jackie
    January 3, 2012 | 7:44 am

    I’d give up a lot of other things before I’d give up my iPhone. It just has so many things, that all fit right in my pocket no matter where I’m going. (In fact, I’m probably going to sell my video camera.)

  13. Greg
    January 3, 2012 | 9:05 am

    Im reading your article on my phone now.

  14. retirebyforty
    January 3, 2012 | 3:50 pm

    Hahaha, I’m exactly like you. I don’t understand this whole app phenomenon. If I need to work, then I’d sit down with my computer. I don’t think an ipad will really increase my production much.

  15. Amanda L Grossman
    January 3, 2012 | 5:27 pm

    I like that you are taking a stand!

    I used to think “No way” to smartphones as well, but I must admit, my blogging business is growing because of it. After being at FINCON and seeing how I was at a disadvantage from not having one, I gave in and I am not sorry. That’s how I was able to get on Anderson Cooper–even though I was at a Yoga Retreat in the middle of nowhere I got his producer’s email! What an opportunity loss that would have been (though I was only on for five seconds or so:)).

  16. Barb
    January 4, 2012 | 12:14 am

    @Robert, Greg, and Jackie-Wow, you guys are really persuasive!
    @Greg-Well, I must say, that is an excellent use of the iphone! Actually, you are definitely shooting my article up :)
    @Retire-whew, one more in the dinosaur camp. I’m feeling less alone.
    @Amanda-Wow, a yoga reatreat, how relaxing is that!! You definitely made the right decision about the phone. You’re on to bigger and better, I’m sure.

  17. Evan
    January 5, 2012 | 12:09 am

    I actually don’t “get” the tablet craze right now (although I freaking love my smart phone). A tablet just seems like an annoying laptop that is just big enough for me not to be productive on and just play angry birds.

    GET A SMART PHONE! I actually get annoyed when I don’t receive an email back right away from people (especially professionals) b/c I just assume that everyone is connected to their email and read it (I guess this is a pro and con)

  18. Tushar@EverythingFinance
    January 5, 2012 | 9:32 am

    Can’t function without my iPhone. I get my work emails as well as my online business emails on it, so that I can respond quickly. I’m one of those guys, who gets the latest iphone on the first day. :) But at this time I can afford it, so why not :)

  19. Barb
    January 5, 2012 | 12:39 pm

    @Evan, The smart phone discussion here is really compelling. In fact, it definitely has me thinking….
    @Tushar-Great comment because, it’s not only about the money. I can afford the phone, but do I want or need it. As I telecommute, I’m rarely far from one of my computers!

  20. Totally Money Blog Carnival #49 |
    January 9, 2012 | 6:12 am

    [...] How going against the electronic consumerism trend is practical. Barbara Friedberg explains Why I Don’t Want a Smart Phone, Tablet, or eReader. [...]

  21. American Debt Project
    January 9, 2012 | 5:28 pm

    I was 100% on the same page as you until about 2 months ago. We were vacationing in Costa Rica and my boyfriend’s iPhone was our only internet connection for two weeks. I used it to transfer funds, pay bills, check my eBay listings, and I was hooked. I’m planning on getting a smartphone in a few months. I never want to be on my phone all day long or accessible 100% of the time, but the apps, convenience and usefulness have finally tipped the scale. Come to me iPhone!

  22. Barb
    January 9, 2012 | 8:38 pm

    @American, The smart phones are certainly screaming out!! You make another compelling case. 2 weeks without internet is a long long long time:)

  23. Lyka Ricks
    January 11, 2012 | 5:58 am

    I definitely agree with your thoughts. It’s more on personal and practical reasons.

  24. Kylie Ofiu
    January 11, 2012 | 8:21 pm

    I had a smartphone and I loved it. It died recently and I went back to my old Nokia. To be honest in many ways I prefer it. I am not connected all the time now and when I am places I am more focused on where I am instead of what is happening online.

    I used to want a tablet, but after playing with them a bit and comparing, I much prefer my laptop.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. Barb
    January 12, 2012 | 2:10 pm

    Hi Kylie, I really need the discipline to live “off line” as well. Having an old phone, makes it that much easier. I thought your input from both sides of the issue was quite instructive.

  26. Modest Money
    February 15, 2012 | 11:54 pm

    I admit I’m pretty old school with my mobile technology. I’m more comfortable doing online work on my laptop. Still, I am considering getting a smart phone to be a little more productive and also get out of the apartment more. Also I might ask for an eReader for my bday for the ability to read on the go more conveniently. I can see why people might want to avoid the extra technology when they are outside. It can keep you somewhat disconnected from the outside world.

  27. Barb Friedberg
    February 16, 2012 | 4:15 pm

    The pull for the latest and greatest is huge. I’m always reevaluating my tech decisions. For now, I think I’ll stick with what I have.

  28. FBarajas21
    March 28, 2012 | 1:27 pm

    Having a Laptop and a smarphone (whether be an iPhone or an Android) I don’t really need anything else (not a tablet nor an ereader) I can do pretty much anything on my smartphone as I can on my laptop, is just that I prefer my laptop at home when working on a project. And my smarphone when I am on the go, well more like waiting in line.
    Also if I have to check a price on ebay, or amazon, and even at an online retail store I prefer to check it on my phone.
    As well when I have to make a reference to someone in whatever we might be arguing on, I could always pull my phone out go online to prove him/her wrong (or see if he/she was making a valid point)
    Other useful thing one could do on a smartphone are; read ebooks, manage bank accounts, make quick online payments, listen to music, watch videos/movies…well, as I said before pretty much anything I/you can do in a laptop is just at the palm of your hand and literally wherever you go.
    One thing you could do is to give a try as some phone companies give about a week to a month to try it out, and if don’t like it you could always cancer it refunding your money back with no fees or penalties…

  29. Barb
    March 30, 2012 | 11:55 am

    @FB-You raise a valid point. Actually, my husband has an iphone. I intend to use it a bit more on the week ends to try it out when he’s around. You gave me something to think about :)

  30. FBarajas21
    March 30, 2012 | 1:34 pm

    Glad to help. And of course, I failed to mention a few more points.

  31. Usiere @Financial Freedom Inspiration
    April 9, 2012 | 1:21 am

    Dinosaur camp ha ha. I think I am a member. though I am trying to recant. I write posts on my phone when I find myself away from home without books and idle time on my hands. I have an iPad I am yet to use. Old habits die hard!I feel it has something to do with desire to change and upgrade (though catching up can be a factor). I’m afraid laptops may soon become obsolete, unless we have enough dinosaurs like us to create enough demand. I was in the market for a desktop for my study some weeks ago, and the store attendants practically laughed at me. No one uses desktops anymore, I was told. I needed one because my laptop had the annoying habit of always walking away and ending up in my 9year old son’s room

  32. Barb
    April 9, 2012 | 8:40 pm

    @U- I completely understand. I bought a new desktop for my office last fall, and there weren’t many to choose from in the store. I don’t like carrying sensitive financial data around on a laptop, even with password protection.

  33. Paul Quirk
    April 23, 2012 | 7:20 pm

    What exactly is “Old shool”?

  34. Barb
    April 23, 2012 | 8:16 pm

    Hi Paul, Old school means “old fashioned.”

  35. Ryan
    July 21, 2012 | 5:30 pm

    the kindle fire has a usb port btw… and how do you know that a smartphone wont improve your life if you don’t have one… you make ignorant assumptions based on your flawed views about the negatives and positives of smart phones… it’s stressful to not have one i can’t get lost if i have mine… they make life a lot better that is why everyone has one

    sorry but you annoy me

  36. Chris Martin
    October 7, 2012 | 7:05 pm

    We all are know that smartphone is very expensive to us but in our country many people use this phone. Because this phone have too much facilities and it is also very stylish to look. Now by using smartphone we can check our body which can save our money and time also. Though it have many restrictions I think smartphone is a part and parcel of our using technology. There have no reason which can break to buy and to use smartphone.

  37. Mellie
    December 23, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    AS a professional photographer and someone that doesn’t really think that everything always needs to be at my fingertips, I don’t own a smartphone and I have a desktop and a laptop that’s it. I don’t need a smartphone to make me less connected with the actual people around me, as most people spend just as much time playing with their phone over actually dealing with people. If someone needs to get ahold of me then they can text or call me on my phone, that’s it. I can do my work on my laptop or desktop and need the better screens for photos. Its fine to use a camera on your smartphone for photos and use smaller screens to editing unless you are pro, then you can seen the difference when they are blown up. Plus I have used ereaders and tablets, but then started having problems with my eyes, got floaters and blurred vision, when I went to the eye doctor she said that trying to use those things to read and such will damage your eyes over time, even if its just that you need glasses. But the floaters were what got me. I just couldn’t stand to risk my vision for the ease of reading, plus I love my old books, I don’t see why things always needs to be “easier” sometimes a little work or wait for something isn’t bad at all. Make you appreciate it even more.

  38. Barb
    December 23, 2012 | 5:08 pm

    @Mellie, Sounds like you’ve thought through the decision and made the one that works for you. In fact, that’s what personal finance is all about. Spending on those things that give you the most value. I appreciated your input on the impact on one’s eyes of reading on a computer, phone, tablet etc.

  39. […] shop as much as the next. I get swayed by advertisers too! In fact after swearing against buying an iPhone, iPad, or eReader I succumbed to a tablet for my holiday present. True confession; the Samsung Galaxy was on sale for […]

  40. […] these factors to decide whether to buy the phone or […]

  41. […] of my most popular articles of all time is entitled, “Why I Don’t Want a Smart Phone, Tablet, or eReader“, so it is with tail between my legs that I confess I requested a tablet for Chanukah last […]

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