The Line Between Cool and Useful
Columnist Toni Kistner says there's a big difference between admiring a technology and investing in it.
Home Networking
March 28, 2007 by Toni Kistner

My advice last week to not buy networking gear “based solely on price or emotion” prompted some fairly charged responses. One reader in particular summed up the mood of the room: “EH praises upcoming technologies that haven’t lasted any test of time.”

That’s not entirely fair, guys. You read EH to find out what’s new and cool in part because it’s entertaining. Praising something new because it’s cool isn’t the same as recommending you buy it, right?

If I only filled this space with stories about standards and working groups you’d boo me off stage. Look, when vendors turn me on to new stuff they’re working on, I can’t wait to share it with you. Talking about new products and technologies is fun, gives you something apolitical to discuss at work, and teaches you to trend spot over time.   

Buying is another matter. If I think something’s stable or useful enough to buy, I’ll say so. If it’s so cool I know some readers won’t be able to resist, I’ll include the proper warning labels. Some consumers can afford to make buying mistakes, others can’t. (I fall into the latter category.) 

Even so, nobody wants to buy stupid. And when it comes to networking gear, buying stupid almost always means buying too early. 

In the CE world, pretty much anything you buy will work. But networking products depend on different devices working together –- pieces you might not have much control over. That’s why the work of the Digital Living Network Alliance is so important. More on them next week.

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Toni Kistner - Contributing Writer
Toni Kistner is a technology writer living in Cambridge, Mass. Her main focus is networking and wireless technology.

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