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April 25, 2011


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I can see laptops and pads gradually taking the place of desktops. But I don't see smartphones ever giving the keyboard experience needed for a blog post or any other serious function like spreadsheets.

I would put cable/sat tv in that same category. Who wants to watch even the largest smartphone screen for more than a few minutes.

And visualizing a family of four holding their smartphones watching IDOL together..... Just doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.

In addition to the above gadgets it replaces, my smartphone helps me consistently in stores to know whether the store has the best prices on items I'm considering. $ saved.

p.s. The link in the article didn't work for me, but found it at

Desktop computer: Lose it. -- HAHA! I don't think so. Besides being a programmer, I can't stand watching videos on smart phones. We do often watch videos on my 17 inch laptop screen. When I work on digital videos my Intel i7 processor is essentially maxed out, I couldn't stand waiting as long as a smart phone would take.

Point-and-shoot camera: Lose it. -- I have a 5MP camera on my phone and it doesn't come close to having as good of pictures. Light sensitivity and lens quality are the main issues, I think.

Camcorder: Lose it. -- SO SHAKY! For quick clips a phone is fine, but not for bday parties etc.

USB thumb drive: Lose it. -- Almost. I do frequently use a card-reader and an SD card to move stuff around.

Digital music player: Lose it (probably). -- We keep about 60 Gigs of MP3s on our Classic iPod. That capacity in a smart phone is currently much too expensive.
Books: Keep them.

As with all electronic gadgets, I let the geeks first buy it, companies perfect it, then purchase it after all the initial R&D expenses have been paid and the price is low enough to where I would purchase it. Other than that I do with out and go with the old stand by. You know the list above.

I don't think that a smartphone takes the place of a desktop computer. I can live with not having all of the other things that the article says to lose. Also, I don't see a smart phone ever taking the place of cable and tv.

There is one major problem it that list...

People had it all way before smartphones era. No savings in this case.

If one never owned any of those things in the first place, sure. But if it's simply a replacement for them? Not exactly.

That said, my iPhone HAS replaced most of the things on that list, with the exception of internet access at home and cable TV.

I use it as my alarm clock, day planner, data storage device, MP3 player, camera, camcorder and GPS unit on almost a daily basis. It's also good for reading books (via the kindle app) when stranded in bouts of severe boredom, as well as watching TV shows and movies while on long-haul flights.

So while it hasn't exactly "saved" me money, it HAS enriched my life in ways that are important TO ME, which means it's been worth every penny.

@Cam thanks for posting the link.

FMF, I'd say that smartphones can be money savers. Say you buy an iPhone with a two-year contract. $200.
That replaces:
-Point & shoot: $100-300
-GPS: $75-100
-Camcorder: $300-700
-iPod: $49-250

You also don't need to buy a Kindle or other e-reader (the apps are free). Now, if you already have all of these things, then, no, buying a smartphone doesn't save you money. But if you buy a smartphone instead of upgrading these things, or instead of buying them in the first place, then yes, it can save you money. This, of course, doesn't factor in the higher monthly costs of the smartphone plan, so there's that. If you wouldn't otherwise buy a smartphone, then buying one to replace these things is not a cost saver when you add up the additional costs of the monthly plan.

Also, the article isn't saying that you don't need a computer; it's just saying you don't need a desktop because a laptop can handle your needs.

You could also replace a host of power tools with a swiss army knife... but it wouldn't be a good idea.

•Desktop computer: Lose it.

Depends on the use- there is a lot of value to having a good kb/mouse/monitor if you are working on a system all day.

Desktop systems are still the cheapest way to get the most computer power so if you are doing anything performance intensive (including graphically demanding games) you will want to stick with a desktop.

•Point-and-shoot camera: Lose it.

Not if you care about image quality- the smaller the sensor the worse the image quality will be. It's basic physics because larger sensors collect more light. The lens is also a big factor- easpcially if it has image stabilization. Not to mention you don't get a zoom lens with a smart phone.

•GPS unit: Lose it.

I think the larger display and having it mounted in the CAR make it worth having a separate unit. Does anyone like holding a smart phone and looking at a small screen while driving?


I own or use nearly every device and service listed independently of my iPhone. I wouldn't consider my phone to be an adequate replacement for any of them, but it is convenient when I don't want to carry additional items or don't have them available.

It all comes down to how much quality and functionality you want to sacrifice for the convenience of having the listed devices in one unit.

If I had to ditch one of the items listed, it would be the GPS. The maps on my GPS were starting to get out-of-date, and many of the POI businesses (particularly restaurants) in its database are now out-of-business. I am using the Mapquest and Google Maps apps on my phone as substitutes for GPS functionality and POI lookups in lieu of paying $100 for a GPS update that's already largely out-of-date fresh out of the box. The Mapquest functionality on my iPhone is adequate, but not nearly as powerful or convenient to use as my 5-year-old Garmin.

Ultimately it's having the mobile data service that saves money, through apps like GasBuddy.

No way any sort of device with a monthly service fee saves you money. Say you buy an iPhone 4: initial cost, $200 + tax. Then, you'll pay $75+ for the next 24 months. Total cost of owning an iPhone 4 >= $2000. Buy a cheap prepaid and you'll spend ~$200 a year on the phone and service.

So why would you buy the iPhone (or Droid, or Windows Phone 7)? Because you value what it does and you're willing to pay for it. Buy it to save money--no way.

Hmm, I would argue that the smart phone has added value to my life that's worth the cost, though I spend more on the iPhone + service than I would if I just had a basic phone (and lived without the extra values). Here's my breakdown:

I stopped watching TV completely until recently, but now I use my iPhone + netflix as my personal TV... $8/month (that I share with 2 other friends) vs whatever cable costs these days, and I can watch whatever I want (within limits, but I don't need to watch the latest shows). The best part is that it's commercial free, and I can see all the episodes in a row. I also use my iPhone to watch action videos while I do cardio at the gym, which motivates me to get much better workouts than before. That alone is a major value to my health!

The more advanced alarm clock features have saved me a couple hundred dollars in parking tickets... I usually work from home on Fridays in an area that has 4-hour parking, so I need to move my car once per day. Solution: an alarm set to go off every Friday at 1PM. I haven't gotten a ticket since, though I have seen the meter mafia driving up as I was moving my car!

I never had a GPS before, and happy with my iPhone for that... I don't ever get lost anymore, or waste time trying to find directions ahead of time. The only mistake was the one time I used it in Canada and paid nearly $100 to briefly look up a map 3 times (and immediately turned off data as soon as the map was loaded). I did the math... it costs 35,000 (THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND) times more to use data roaming in Canada than the US! So my smart phone is useless internationally thanks to AT&T's/Rodger's exorbitant rates.

I gave up having multiple work/home desktops for a single laptop years ago, and I would never give up my laptop for a smart phone... typing is much faster. iPhone is great for email, facebook, and internet on-the-go though -- another priceless value-add to my life.

I still like the paper version of books so no savings there.

My iPhone is great (and more convenient) for daily Facebook pictures (and it's made my Facebook persona a lot more interesting), but I use a better camera when I travel. But I'm still on iPhone 3, so that would change once I get a phone with a better quality camera.

Wait, they say get rid of the Computer, but keep the High Speed Internet? If you get rid of the computer, what's the internet for? And why in the world would you keep the TV? (I can't read the actual article, since FMF's link is defunct)

I don't know about them, but I NEED my computer because it's my sole source of income right now. I do NOT need a TV that does nothing to earn its keep. Really, that's more or less my bottom line for most of the items in my room. If it makes money somehow, I keep it. If it doesn't make money, I seriously have to really love whatever it is and use it a lot, or else it GOES. (As you can imagine, I don't keep very many things that do not make money).

If a Smartphone could really save me money or make me money, then I'd have one. But I've never used or needed a GPS, I already have a $5 alarm clock, I don't need a camcorder ever, and I already have a camera (that makes me money), and a digital music player (a small iPod shuffle a family member gave me as a gift over 8 years ago).
So no, I personally wouldn't need a Smartphone, nor would it save me money or make me money. I suppose everyone would have to answer those questions for themselves.

The only things on the list that my iPhone has replaced is digital music player, alarm clock and GPS unit. Though I still prefer my standalone golf GPS unit compared to using my phone.

Desktop computer is the last thing I will lose as a programmer. Things I'd need are the internet, the books, USB, camcorder and the camera.

I'd lose everything everything else on that list.

To everyone commenting that a smartphone can't replace your desktop computer: click the link and read the freaking article already! "Assuming you are not a hardcore gamer or a video editor, laptops have all the necessary computing power the average user needs." I replaced my desktop with a laptop computer (OK, technically it's called a "notebook" since you're not supposed to hold it on your lap...) seven years ago and haven't looked back.

Of the "smart" functions of my smartphone, the one I use the most is the calendar/appointment function that is linked to my work Outlook calendar and my personal Google calendar (that has all my kids' functions and after school activities on it). I check it dozens of times each day and it helps me be where I have to be when I need to. Nice to not have to carry around a big paper planner anymore, plus my appointments are all automatically updated when my secretary changes something on Outlook even if I haven't been at my office of any of my computers all day. The other app I use a lot is websurfing to read the news when I have an odd moment here and there.

The mp3 app on my android is awful and the storage space is limited--so I'll keep my high capacity ipod, thanks. Also my digital camera is way better than the camera on my phone. I only get cable TV for my kids and no, they don't have smartphones and I don't want them always wanting to use my phone to watch TV. Of course I'll keep my high speed internet at home--surfing on my phone is painfully slow.

Desktop? Are you kidding?I replaced all my desktops (except 1) 5 years ago. Now I have one laptop at home for personal use, one desktop at home for my kids, one laptop in my office at work, and 5 laptops for researchers in my lab. Desktops take up an insane amount of space and can't be moved to where the work is. My kids have a desktop set up in the family room mainly because I want to keep track of what they're doing online.

What we do. We have a laptop for home. It is for everyone to use. We share it for watching movies, doing taxes etc... Desktop went away years ago..
Cable TV? Trying to figure out why one would have this? After matching the switch to Hulu and Netflix. Total cost is $18 per month vs. $65+ for Cable/Dish? Get a Roku.
So if you have a Roku and a Laptop/Netbook you will need High Speed Internet for a Family.

Camera's hmmm Camera's are a hobby/sideline for me so that is out of bounds. I will say that my backup for my big SLR is my camera phone
USB thumb drive: Keep it no matter what. Perfect for moving files around

Ipod/MP3 player - Yeah I use my android phone for playing Pandora. It is awesome or the Roku for the house.
Alarm clock. Actually I took the plunge years ago to make myself get enough sleep and got completely rid of the alarm. My mood is so much better and my health is better. They best thing you can do for your life is to get enough sleep and to be regular about getting the sleep you need.
GPS - Don't need it if you have smart phone
Books. It depends. Some books are fine being read on phone/netbook/Tablet/laptop. Others. Well you just need to hold some books.

All in all is the smart phone a savings. NO!. Does it enrich my life. Resounding yes.

One more note. If I was single I would get rid of home internet access. My phone tethers to my lappy and gives me pretty darn good speed. I would drop that cost as well.

I guess I wouldn't even count the costs. I am old enough to be set in my ways (used to doing it my way) and keep what I have - desktop, home phone, cell with no added features, nook on my pc, hi speed internet, GPS, alarm clock (when needed) and music on my PC and car radio. I don't have cable, camera or camcorder, USB. And, I would never give up my books.

I only use Nook because I downloaded it to my pc which has a 19" monitor. The idea of reading off a cell phone of some type sounds absolutely gruesome. I want an actual book or a large reading surface.

I agree with the comment that a monthly charge does away with a lot of savings. I gave up cable because I can watch most of what I love on the PC or get a dvd and watch it on my old tv. I only have a cell to make my kids feel better when I travel a lot.

I love being old. It gives me the advantage of wanting fewer expensive items and being satisfied with my old stuff. My most expensive item is traveling to see my kids.

I forgot - when my GPS gets old, I'll just use Mapquest and print out directions on where to get to new places. Much cheaper.

I would say my phone already replaced an MP3 player effectively. Its close to replacing a point and shoot camera but not quite. My next phone upgrade may be good enough so I don't need a separate camera any longer. Everything else on that list phones don't do well enough yet as far as I'm concerned.

But every generation of new smart phones they get more and more powerful. I could see in 5-10 years that a smart phone can do all this stuff as well or better than the basic quality stand alone items.

I do think that if you don't already have a smart phone then I wouldn't go get one just to replace other stuff. Smarthones require monthly fees that are generally higher than simple phones so you're carrying monthly phone bills.

@cmadler: How are you clicking the link and reading the article? When I click the link, Yahoo gives me a "Not Found" page.

BD --

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