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Sat, Dec. 07

Tech specs sound impressive, but focus on what gadgets do for you

The Apple iPhone 6, and the Apple Watch. (Courtesy)

The Apple iPhone 6, and the Apple Watch. (Courtesy)

I'm a geek when it comes to tech shows and product releases. For me, it's the equivalent of a kid finding out what his next Christmas present is going to be. I mark the dates on my calendar, get feeds for all the products and software I'm following and dream of all the things I can do with the latest and greatest products in my hands.

There are plenty of shows to fill my appetite, and as if governed by some cruel consumer god they have sprinkled them regularly throughout the entire year. My tithing at the alter of consumerism comes willingly and frequently, and as long as companies keep selling me on all the things I can do with their product, the donations will keep on flowing.

Apple keynotes are my Christmas Day, and nobody can sell the sizzle better than they can. They made keynotes popular and cool. Steve Job's "One more thing" could swing Apple stock, and their product reveals are always emulated but never truly replicated (I'm looking at you, Samsung).

So when I woke up on Tuesday morning to watch the iPhone 6 keynote I naturally anticipated what the tech giant could sell me next.

Bigger iPhone? Check. Faster processor? Check. New camera with optical stabilization? Check. Apple Pay? Cool, but are people too skeptical to use it?

Free U2 album? *crickets*

Wait ... I'm not excited for the new iPhone.

Who am I?

I had to remind myself why I love Apple.

I love Apple products not because I think they're stylish or cool. I love Apple products because, for what I need them to do, their products work. I live in Final Cut Pro. My Macbook Pro was rugged enough to handle all those trips overseas. I've never had a crash or even a stutter on my iPhone. The Apple ecosystem is reliable and, after years of working with their products, the technology disappears and lets me focus on why I use technology in the first place: to be more productive, to entertain, to create and to connect.

Lately, though, companies - including Apple in recent years - have placed more emphasis on entertaining and feeding products to the masses that demand marginal spec increases over technological advances. Increase speeds here. Add gimmicks like fingerprint scanners and side-bezel screens there. Keep it incremental enough and people will buy it as long as you sell it via product launches and tug the heartstrings in ads that challenge you to be and do better.

The product is now the focus, not what you can do with it.

I started to notice that obsession with specs in the photography world. I'd go to take pictures and people would ask what kind of camera I had. If my camera was better, they would ogle at it and were convinced that their photos would turn out so much better if they had one.

If their camera was better, they would often list off the specs of their gear like a skill section on a resume. (Just as an FYI, megapixels don't equate to better photos, and lenses are more important than the camera itself.)

At a certain point, like with my older Apple products, my camera gear became part of me and disappeared in my hands. Once you practiced enough and had a basic skill set to improve on, it didn't matter what was strapped around your neck.

My limits weren't gear-based, and dropping a couple thousand dollars every two years to become a better photographer and videographer isn't logical or feasible.

You can see that mentality in Kingman if you look close enough. Our community tends to be a step or two (or more) behind in keeping up with the latest and greatest tech. It's not that we don't know how to utilize it or that we're resistant as a community. Technology here tends to be less of a fashion statement and more of a tool to help us in our day-to-day lives.

It has to have a tangible benefit to validate the price tag, and you can see those benefits when nurses are dragging netbooks around to assist patients or merchants are using iPads as complete POS systems.

Brand loyalty here isn't as important as what you do with it.

That's the way technology needs to be used, and I think my tenure away from the city is rubbing off on me.

Seeing Apple's keynote on Tuesday was a very refreshing realization that I was finally breaking free from that consumer trap that most geeks fall into.

I didn't care about the new iPhone, and that's OK. The iPhone 6, or any new phone announced this season, offered nothing that could help me be more productive, entertain me more, help me create better work, or help me connect with the ones I love any better.

They all sold the sizzle, but I'm already full on steak.

The Apple Watch looks really cool, though. That's worth the $349, right?

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