It’s that time of the year again, when throngs of people head to either Suntec City or Singapore Expo.
This week and the next, we will be hit by a double whammy of tech and consumer electronics shows. The Consumer Electronics Exhibition 2016 will be held from 26 to 29 May at Suntec City Convention Centre, while PC Show 2016 will be on from 2 to 5 June at Singapore Expo Halls 5 and 6.
I myself am not immune to the zombie mind control that these events have on Singaporeans, though I don’t shop there unless a need arises.
With the rise of several online platforms for you to shop on, there has been a downward trend of shoppers buying consumer electronics in the flesh. Unlike clothing and fashion accessories, tech products are generally in the one size fits all category.
A rule of thumb I always tell those around me, however – these local tech shows don’t offer the best of prices for many things.
Yet people seem to still exit the halls with a purchase, or even ten! The buzz of the exhibitions just seem to attract people to buying things they want (at a point of time), but not need.
Let’s take a look at 10 items that many have been guilty of buying.
The Top 10 Things You Don’t Need
1 – USB Cables
How many cables does one really need?
Each device that you buy will definitely have come with one USB cable bundled in the box. To have a spare is understandable, but any more than that is just hoarding. Spare yourself from the convoluted mess that is bound to happen when you have a bunch of cables in a box.
I don’t know about you but personally, I’m moving away from a crazily wired desk.
2 – Power Banks
Being in a small but well connected country, our jostle for social media supremacy will definitely suck the battery out of our smartphones. The portable battery charger has become almost a necessity among the smartphone generation. Then again, one would think that people would stop at having a single ‘powerbank’, as many would call it.
You’d probably be wrong.
Frequently I see people crowd around vendors at tech shows to buy them. If I could ask them a question, it’d be, “Is your entire home powered by those?”
If your answer is no, then what I’d suggest is getting a good quality power bank from a reputable brand that can support multiple devices. If you’re only going to use it for your phone, most 5000mAh power banks are small enough to slip into your pocket and even charge your phones twice.
3 – Memory Cards
Yet another thing most people have too many of, especially photography enthusiasts. Be it SD cards, or micro SD cards, people are guilty of purchasing more than they require.
This is however not in regard to those that buy to upgrade, such as creative professionals, who, as technology progresses, need better cards to record higher resolution content. As phones are increasingly going in the direction of not having expandable storage, this problem has once again been isolated to those with a camera.
For the rest of us though, a good consumer level memory card will do just fine. You do not need ten SD cards for that trip to London! Just get your hands on one or two Class 10 SD cards with respectable reading and writing speeds. More often than not, you will find that you have trouble even filling up just a single 16GB SD card.
4 – Hard Disks
Why a regular person realistically needs more than one terabyte of storage space is beyond me.
While people will generally admit to hoarding of physical items, the same cannot be said of data. Digital hoarding is an actual thing, and depending on the person, can actually be as bad as its physical counterpart. It’s a healthy habit to purge your personal computers of unused and redundant data regularly. You do not need that entire folder of images from two years ago. Maybe just keep a few for your social media throwback purposes.
As with the memory cards, get a single reputable branded external hard drive for your archival needs, and you’ll be set for many years.
5 – Smartphone Accessories
The amount of vendors selling accessories at the four main tech shows in Singapore is borderline preposterous.
First up, phone cases, covers and screen protectors. Personally, I feel that these phone accessories take away the beauty of industrial design of the latest flagship phones. “It’s for protection,” some might argue – but what if I told you that phone you have in your hands right now isn’t as fragile as you perceive it to be?
Sure it’s not rugged, but the average smartphone can definitely take a beating from daily life.
As for everything else, you’re definitely better off without them.
How many selfie sticks will you need? No, you do not need that LED light attachment for better images in the dark either. Individually, all these items may not cost much, but once you lump them together, they do add up.
So save that money and put it to something more useful.
6 – GPS Driving Navigation
I’d think that with Singapore being a very small country, the use of GPS navigation shouldn’t be that popular, or even needed.
Apparently I was wrong, going by how little drivers (especially the younger ones) know about the road networks around Singapore.
Did you know that your smartphone is a very capable as a navigator in its own right? Modern smartphones have a navigation system (usually with both GPS and GLONASS), an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass built in. Android and iOS platforms work equally well.
This makes your phones as good as, if not better, than standalone navigation devices.
Speaking of Google and Apple, the fact that automotive manufacturers are adopting the software by these two tech giants is reason enough to start using your smartphone for navigation. With Android Auto and Apple Carplay getting more coverage at almost every major Auto Show, full integration of your phone and car isn’t that far off.
7 – Portable Speakers
I cannot really fathom a use case scenario for portable speakers, not daily in Singapore at least.
If the speakers are for use at home with, let’s say, your mobile phone, I can think of many computer or standalone speakers that one can consider. These speakers are loud, have good sound quality and bluetooth functions too. Best of all, just leave it plugged in a socket and you won’t need to worry about having to charge the battery.
If used for traveling and the outdoors, the search becomes a bit more tricky, because it would need to be able to withstand the elements. The problem with waterproofing and whatever-else-proofing a speaker is that it degrades the sound quality. At which point, the portable speaker will simply be a louder version of your phone speaker.
8 – Cameras
Many have been taken in by the apparent deals for cameras during tech shows. Camera vendors dangle freebies after freebies to attract customers to buy the latest cameras.
Disregarding brands and specifications, the fact is, you’d probably get a better deal from a reputable camera shop outside. These stores offer prices known as ‘street price’, which is cheaper than the recommended retail price (RRP) offered at tech shows. What’s more, you will probably also get the same, or similar freebies.
9 – Routers / Wireless Adapters / Powerline Adapters
First of all, I think the fundamental issue of this problem is that people do not understand their home network plans properly.
They tend to put the blame squarely on hardware, but in actual fact, the hardware is functioning as advertised. Some Internet Services Providers (ISP) are known to toggle your internet speeds under their fair use policies.
So when your internet is down to a crawl, it probably is because you’ve used too much bandwidth. You should then be considering either upgrading to a higher tier plan, or even changing your ISP altogether.
Secondly, users need to understand how to effectively expand network coverage in their homes instead of blindly buying unnecessary hardware.
For older homes, the use of power line adapters, commonly known as homeplugs, may deteriorate your experience due to the aged copper wiring in your home circuit.
For homes with multiple floors, or walls, a single access point is definitely a no go. Thus you will probably need to install repeaters at areas where the wireless signals can bounce off of.
Know your homes well so you won’t need to spend needlessly!
10 – Smartwatches
Watches are a disappearing commodity on people’s wrists. Smartwatches held a premise that people would want to communicate from their wrists as they do on their phones.
The thing is, smartwatches have just become another fashion accessory. With Android Wear and Apple Watch software still some way from actually being useful on a day-to-day perspective, smartwatches have a hard time going mainstream.
Perhaps with the maturity of both operating systems in the near future, will it be a viable communication tool. But as for right now, use that cash for a swanky new watch from a part of Europe that you’ve just heard of.