What is seriously Life-Changing Hardware? For me, it was the smallest of modern inconveniences. The ubiquity of the digital, portable phone? Yeah, almost commonplace, now. The counter-worker at the what-a-burger has a phone sticking out of her back pocket — not out of place.
They are everywhere, the “smart” phones. Not what this is about. The first, Life-Changing Hardware wasn’t the phone itself, but an accessory. That add-on, for me?
Wireless earphones with built in mic.
And volume control!
The original, Life-Changing Hardware has to be the wireless headsets. Now, just earbuds, but at one time, it was a headset. Or, for me, it was a pair of earbuds connected by wire, with a mic (and volume control) built-in. Changed it all.
There was certain freedom that came with that first, cheap wireless set. Maybe a gateway drug? At around $20?
What was life changing about that? The right price, the right hardware, and the right usage. Freedom. I could walk, talk, and wave my arms about. Not like this is a new observation, but a recent sales list was pushing an out-dated model, with the same plug, “life changing hardware.” Gave me pause. I reflected, briefly, and yes, that was a piece of life-changing hardware, the first Bluetooth headset.
What changed, and it changed everything, was the ability to listen to podcasts, or music, or converse with clients, with freedom to move about. More important, in a succession of rent cars, the handy — wireless — earbuds didn’t require convoluted sync and pairing. The hands-free worked — and that’s when this became Live-Changing Hardware.
My frequently infrequent commute to Austin is a perfect example. Maybe 45 minutes to get to South Austin and then another 45 minutes to get downtown — on a good day. That’s almost one whole Shakespeare play, or a decent lecture about the occult symbolism in Shakespeare’s Scottish Play. Or other topics.
What changed was the freedom. What the smart phone promised? Those cheap ear-buds delivered.