Tech Mistakes I Made in 2013 I Won’t Repeat in 2014 (Probably)

1) I’ll never by a locked cell phone again

If you buy a cell phone through most of the major providers in the US, you get it at a discount presuming you agree to a contract, usually for terms of about a year. This phone is generally locked, in that you can’t run with it to another provider. In some cases, you can’t even put in a different sim card if you travel.

For reasons I can’t logically explain, I’ve been a Sprint customer since I first got a cell phone. The coverage is fine, and for pretty much unlimited everything it’s quite cheap. However, their international support is infuriating. Every time I traveled in 2013 to someplace where I had a funny accent, Sprint screwed up something. No text messages one time, no service at all another, culminating in a promise they had unlocked my phone (so I could use a different sim card) when they hadn’t.

The hours and hours and hours I spent with them on the phone in November and December could have paid my mortgage had I been able to bill for it. I don’t feel like going into the details, but the short version is: I no longer want to be trapped by a company I pay money to. I’d rather buy the phone outright, and allow them to let me pay them. This is how most other countries do it, and since I only get a new phone every few years anyway, it’s not a problem.

2) I love OLED, but it proves the “nothing’s perfect” adage

Al loved OLED. I also reviewed the Samsung KN55S9C and loved it. It’s awesome. Easily the best TV I’ve ever seen, and… wait a second… WTF it has MOTION BLUR.

Yep, catching me off guard completely, both the LG and Samsung OLEDs have motion blur. This is likely do to them using sample and hold to create an image (like LCD). OLED has much faster response time than LCD, but response time hasn’t been a major factor in TV motion blur in years.

No real lesson to be learned here, other than to retain skepticism regardless of enthusiasm, which I already knew.

3) Stop using “Accurate” as a descriptor in headphone reviews

This: Who's to Say What "Accurate" Is?

4) Always have backup headphones

I’d always thought bringing two pairs of headphones with me on every trip was overkill. Nope. Had my favorite pair die on me mid-trip in November.

Since you can find great headphones for as little as $12, this shouldn't be much of an issue.

5) Cheap laptops are awesome, but slightly less cheap laptops are definitely better.

I am a proud and vocal proponent of cheap little laptops. My Asus netbook cost $250, is the size and weight of an iPad, has 12+ hours of battery life, and has USB connectors to charge my other gear.

It’s also is excruciatingly slow. I love it but wouldn't wish it on an enemy. Also, whoever designed the keyboard should be ashamed.

Last week I replaced it with a $400 Asus T100 “2-in-1,” a new category of laptop where the screen detaches and works as a tablet. It’s lighter than my netbook, a little thinner, lasts about the same, has a processor fast enough that it’s a “real” computer, and has a MUCH better keyboard (which despite the bold is still an understatement, like saying not being on fire is better than being on fire).

The coolest part? It recharges via USB. So I can connect it to a USB battery pack and get even longer life out of it, sans outlet. I didn’t think I’d care about the works-as-a-tablet functionality, but that’s cool too, for use on the couch while watching TV.

We’ll see how it does at CES next month, but right now I adore it.

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