Thursday, October 07, 2004

Peer pressure

Friends of The Cap'n and loyal readers of The Wisdom know I'm somebody who likes my toys. But I've found an interesting pattern over the years - I tend to buy pretty cool stuff that's somehow not quite the same thing everybody else has.

Examples include:

• The TiFaux - I think I was pretty smart to get the DishNetwork DVRs instead of TiVo. They cost less, had no monthly fee and had capabilities such as two tuners long before any TiVo box.

• DishNetwork - Solidly the No. 2 satellite TV provider; I picked them over DirecTV because their channel lineup was better and I didn't want to pay a premium to be able to buy NFL pay-per-view. And I'm happy with them after 5 years.

• Sirius Satellite Radio - Solidly the No. 2 satellite radio provider. They were 100% commercial free back when XM wasn't, so I went with Sirius. And now they'll get Howard Stern (not that I'll listen), which may make them the ultimate winner.

• Sony Clie - My Palm-powered PDA. Its features blew away Palm and others when I got it, but it was never a big seller.

• T-Mobile - I'm about the only person I know who doesn't use Verizon, Sprint, AT&T or Cingular, but they had the best plans and the best phones.

• The Santa Fe - Sure, now it's the trendy SUV, but it was an odd duck when we bought it 20 months ago.

• The PlayStation 2 - It was the hottest thing in the world when I got my first one (I got it on Amazon on Day 1, so I was among the first 250,000 people in the U.S. to get one), but all my friends now have XBox. Still, I replaced the old PS2 with a new PS2 when the first one died.

• The Kenwood home theater system - I hadn't owned a Kenwood component in 20 years, but their system had just the features (and price) I was looking for.

• The new LG DLP TV - You have no idea what any of that means, do you? Exactly.

My point here is that I chase the technology, not so much the trend. I think it's because my dad was a Betamax man.

And usually it doesn't really matter. I rarely have to explain that when I've "TiVoed" something, I've actually recorded it on my DishPlayer 721.

But now I'm on the verge of buying a hard-drive-based portable MP3 player. And I'm leaning toward iPod. I want to say it's because Apple's technology and design are better than Creative Labs, iRiver or any other competitors out there.

The sad truth, however, is that I'd feel kind of like a loser if I'm carrying around a non-iPod MP3 player, no matter how much better it may be. Because MP3 players are carried in public and because iPod is so damn ubiquitous, there's a lot of peer pressure here.

Sure, I could buy some white earbuds and a case to help disguise a black or grey device, but I think I'd feel the need to explain to everybody I met why I didn't buy an iPod.

I'm not used to this feeling, and I hate it.


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