Every year around the holidays, a plethora of new technology products hits the market, and each season, more and more of these devices use Internet connectivity to function. Now an inextricable part of our daily lives, a reliable, fast Internet connection is a must for the latest and greatest gadgets. Ever evolving, most of these devices began without Internet connectivity, but have shortly found themselves nearly useless without one. In my opinion, many of these devices are becoming “Internet dependent” and non-connection versions will soon become obsolete. Some examples are:
Online Video Games
Remember when being a gamer meant camping out alone in a damp basement for weeks on end, forgoing all social encounters or contact with the outside world? No more! Nowadays most gaming systems come with the ability to connect to vast gaming communities online, allowing players in Topeka to challenge worth opponents in Tokyo. We all know what video games WITHOUT Internet connectivity look like – Super Mario, anyone? While most have nostalgic memories of these practically prehistoric video games, the future of gaming is online.
Multi-player platforms are becoming the norm, and some of the most popular games around aren’t really all that much fun when played solo. While many of these systems function just fine using multiple players in the same room, the web-connected versions challenge gamers to become better and to compete against more like-skilled players. In the age of online gaming, new games only take a matter of hours to be mastered by someone in the network who then passes along their secrets and tips to minions of other players anxious to amp up their play. This, in turn, test the moxie of game developers to come up with the greatest, hardest feature out there – making gaming better for everyone.
Once upon a time, VHS tapes were slowly being converted to DVDs, and everyone was convinced that technology had gone as far as it could in terms of digital recording. Then came the inevitable rise of the Blu-ray player, specially designed to deliver unbelievable sound and picture quality and all at once, inching its way to the top of the “things I can no longer just "not be into." Today’s Blu-ray players take it a step further – did you know that most web-enabled players allow you to stream movies and radio station music at the push of a button? Well, they do.
We may not be at a point where no one remembers life without Internet connected Blu-ray players, but we will be soon. With the inevitable demise of brick-and-mortar video stores, our digital recording devices will soon be inextricably linked to the world wide web. Soon we’ll all be able to order any movie from our living rooms or even play the above mentioned video games without a gaming system. The future of home theater is Blu-ray, and the future of Blu-ray is the Internet.
A list of web-dependent devices just wouldn’t be complete without smart phones…the ultimate golden child of the interwebs. Gone are the days when phones merely made outgoing calls and, if you were lucky, took and stored photos (!) and in are the times of instant Internet access, anytime, anywhere. All the major carriers now produce phones with the intention of Internet use, as well as compatible data plans, forcing us all to enter the digital age. Want to find a good Thai restaurant nearby or update your Netflix queue? Just pull out your phone the size of a deck of cards and get to it – no excuses!
As the proud owner of a flip phone, I still don’t know the joys of instant Internet connectivity. While no, I cannot look up directions in the car and no, I can’t check my work email at dinner, I also don’t have to do these things for my companions. I won’t lie and say that it wouldn’t be nice to have Internet on-the-go, for me, having never had this luxury means I don’t miss it… yet. I figure there’s no turning back once I submit to the charms of the smart phone, but until then, ol’ Flippy and I will be hanging out, sending texts and using the 4 ringtones that he came with.
If you’re in the market for tech gadgets this holiday season, don’t forget to think about which devices will be their best with a wireless Internet connection. While all of the above mentioned products still come in non-web versions, they won’t for long, so take that into consideration when making a gift list. While some gadgets stand alone, some will require you to have a reliable at-home Internet connection, so determine which provider in your area has the fastest, most dependable service. The only thing worse than giving someone an archaic, web-disabled device is giving them the latest, greatest gadget with no Internet to connect it to.