Press-Republican

FYI...

November 22, 2012

Tech gift guide: Pick your gadget path carefully

Remember this as you shop for the must-have gadgets of the season: You're buying far more than a box of circuit boards when you pick up a smartphone or tablet. You're picking a set path through the digital world — and turning back could be painful.

As the tablet and smartphone markets grow more competitive, companies are stepping up the range of content they offer exclusively to customers as a way to stand out in the marketplace. Apple offers a bevy of quality apps and music through its iTunes Store. Amazon touts access to its enormous online marketplace. Google offers seamless integration with its mail and documents system. But what people often don't realize is that each 99-cent app or $2 song sinks them deeper into a lasting relationship with the company that sells stuff to run on their gadgets.

"I don't think it's something that everyone considers, but it's something that they should," said Carl Howe, an analyst with Yankee Group. "Particularly with mobile devices, there can be as much investment in the content in the device as with the device itself."

In other words, over the course of a year or two people can spend hundreds of dollars on songs, movies, apps and books that they often can't transfer to another brand of smartphone or tablet.

If you pick an iPhone this Christmas, do it with the knowledge that a lot could get stuck there if you switch to a different smartphone down the line. Even apps made by the same companies won't transfer between devices. Buying Angry Birds on your Kindle Fire will never make it show up on your iPhone — you'll have to buy it twice.

This lock-in is becoming even more pronounced as companies introduce families of devices that share app stores and information. Apple, Google and Microsoft all point to this cloud storage capability as a major selling point as they hawk their lines of smartphones, tablets and, at least for Apple and Microsoft, computers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014

  • wheat1.jpg Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters

    The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • The science of shyness

    Shy people have quite a bit to contend with - not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To "shy away" from something implies avoidance; to "shy" can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to "be shy of" something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

    July 8, 2014