Gadget: The belittling word for 'tool'
And it somehow always seems like an insult though I'm not sure why. There is a tendency to think of gadget freaks and early-adopters as just adult-children in search of new toys. But this characterisation is wholly misleading, as it seeks to conflate two entirely separate groups.
There are those who display a compulsion to buy the latest Personalised Pot Noodle Vending Machine or HD DVR but somehow can't seem to figure out exactly how they work. These are the readers of Nuts, Loaded and (if you're lucky) Maxim; the lad equivalents of Chat, Take-a-Break and Marie Claire.
And then there are those practical types among us, who simply seek either to improve on current accessories, or to take advantage of new technologies to streamline common tasks.
For example, my apparently flashy phone is, to me, utterly functional. This means wi-fi (because normal data transfer rates are exorbitant), office capability (for scheduling work), and a touch-screen (because I used to carry a notebook all the time and the stylus is simply a continuation). So I looked at all the phones offering these and picked the handiest.
While, yes, I have a large LCD monitor, the computer it serves is more than five years old (I built it to last).
I don't own a conventional laptop (I use an ultra-portable). I don't have an MP3 player. Or a DVD player or a CD player or even a hi-fi system. Though these are all prime gadget units.
But none of these items would add anything to my existing lifestyle–gold-plated wiring or satellite capabilities notwithstanding. I don't need them so I didn't buy them.
Yet, when I produce an immensely useful little digital dictaphone (musician and blogger, he-llo!) some people will act as if I have just donned a wireless streaming head-mounted webcam.
Folks, try to remember that mobile phones were shunned up to about 12 years ago; texting only became popular in 2000; even old people are seeing value in Facebook and Wikipedia now. New stuff is not the work of Satan.
If all this seems a little too defensive and you 'think the lady doth protest too much,' don't worry it's all just a prelude to my introduction of this obviously ridiculous gadget which, though purely a novelty item, suggests exciting possibilities for the far distant future.
The Livescribe Pulse Pen speaks Spanish as you write in English. Now you must admit that's some pretty cool science fiction gadgetry right there.
And no I don't want one. Jeez, pay attention!