Colin Devroe

Taking full advantage of the things you already own

23 October 2006

Most of us like nice, new things. Whenever something new comes out we ogle at its features, wonder at how we could use them to our advantage, and then eventually buy the product. But how many of us take full advantage of the things we already own?

I'm sure some of you out there do a fantastic job of utilizing each and every feature of everything you own - but I know that I don't - and I'd like to start trying. Here is a few examples of products that I think go under utilized by many people.

Oh, by the way, I'll be staying away from the obvious one, your computer. Nearly everyone I know with a computer uses it for "email and eBay". The computer is the most under-utilized product of all time. But, I said I wasn't going to mention that.

Here is another big one. Your digital camera. At the time of this writing we have two digital cameras in our household, one for taking stills or landscapes, another for quick shots on the go.

If your digital cameras are anything like mine they come with a fairly extensive user-manual that I've almost never fully examined. If there was a button on the camera that I failed to recognized, I'd take out the manual and look it up - but that would be the extent of my reading of the manual. Digital cameras have tons of great features to help you the best possible photos in any given situation. Obviously many digital cameras ship with a few superfluous features like automatically adding cute little frames to your photos, etc. - but more often than not - your digital camera has some great features that you are simply not utilizing. Myself included.

Another under utilized tool would be your Tivo, if you have one. At least in my case, I rarely use Tivo for anything other than recording the shows I really like. Most of the time, if I really like the show, I watch it live and I have the Tivo in place for watching the same show twice. Eliza uses the Tivo much more efficiently than I do since she records more shows and her favorite football games each week - but what about the other 23 hours in the day that the Tivo sits there doing almost nothing? Could it be recording a few cooking shows to use as a guide for dinner that evening? The do-it-yourself painting show to let you know how to paint your kitchen? Or even the special on moths indigenous to the northeastern United States? Ok, maybe I won't find that program - but you get the point.

Living room electronics, although not as common as things like digital cameras, also go under-utilized by many. What I mean by living room electronics is the combination of your television, DVD players, and surround sound systems. Thanks to retail stores like Best Buy and Circuit City a fair amount of people do have surround-sound systems in their living rooms. Most of them consist of 1-price packages like a "Sony setup" or a "Bose-system", most of which are crap - but yet they put out a far better quality sound than the two speakers in your TV.

Most of these speaker systems come with detailed instructions on how to setup them up for proper acoustics in your home. Many of them have presets for specific media like DVDs, music on CD, and the sound coming through your TV. But yet most people simply plug everything in, turn the volume up to 11, and listen to a severely distorted version of the T-Rex getting running in Jurassic Park. At least that is what I do. Maybe what I should be doing is carefully setting the system up to get the best, and clearest, quality sound from what I've spent so much money on.

I suppose my point is this. If you've paid money, any amount of money, for a product - maybe it'd be worth spending some time getting the most use out of it, before you replace it with a bigger, better version with more features you won't end up using. I'm going to try to do the same.

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