Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Some upgrades are subjective -- like moving from pen and paper to a digital note-taker. Other upgrades, however, change the way you use technology, and make it impossible to go back to the inferior choice. Here are 10 of those things.

Title photo remixed from Oleksiy Mark (Shuterstock), dencg (Shutterstock) and Marcio Jose Bastos Silva (Shutterstock)

The main idea of this list is to find options that are objectively better than their lower-quality counterparts -- the kinds of choices the vast majority of people would not give up afterwards. That means most of these products tend to be more expensive, but we've added recommendations for the budget-conscious where we can, in case you want to get a big upgrade for a small price.

10. A Quality Pair Of Headphones

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

High-end headphones are something you don't think you need until you've been spoiled by them (warning: ignorance is bliss). Not only are you likely to find headphones that are more comfortable and last longer, but the sound will just be unlike anything you've heard before -- and you'll never be able to go back to those cheap Apple earbuds (or Beats). Photo by Hiroyuki Takeda

9. A Mechanical Keyboard

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Membrane keyboards are fine, but mechanical keyboards -- like the keyboards of yore -- are still kings in terms of durability, feel, and usability (not to mention ergonomics). You'll still be able to use membrane keyboards after trying a mechanical . . . but you won't want to. Check out our guide to how they work and our list of the five best to find one that's right for you.

8. Better Third-Party Apps

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Some "default" apps will never be overthrown, but in a lot of cases, you'll get more features and nicer design with a good third-party app. We've made a huge list of the best third-party apps here.

7. A Solid-State Drive

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

A solid-state drive (or SSD) is essentially a hard drive that is much faster than traditional spinning platter drives. It is the best upgrade you can make to your computer. Seriously. Check out our complete guide to SSDs for everything you need to know about using one. If you're on a tight budget: SSDs are significantly more expensive than their hard drive counterparts. You could buy a budget-focused SSD (which may not be quite as fast as the fastest, but still good), or you could get a small SSD that holds just your operating system and apps -- while keeping your other data on a traditional hard drive. You'll spend a lot less, and reap most of the benefits.

6. Voice Control

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Unlike the other items on this list, you probably already have this one: you just might not be using it to its full potential. Not everything is better with voice, but complicated tasks like setting reminders, converting units, and even performing simple searches are much, much faster with Google Now (or Siri). And if you have a complicated task Google doesn't support, you can create your own custom command. Once you get used to talking to your phone, you'll realise how awesome it is -- and never make reminders the old way again.

5. A Quality Bag

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

A bag may not be "technology" in the strictest sense, but it can make lugging your gadgets around a heck of a lot easier, so we'll cheat a bit with this one. Bags are one area in which you definitely get what you pay for: a truly quality bag will not only come with convenient features but will also last you a lifetime.

4. USB 3.0

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Because it's really, really fast. It's 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Once you've used it for some of those bigger file transfers, USB 2.0 will just feel like molasses.

3. A DSLR Or MILC Camera

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

The best camera is the one you have with you -- but the second best camera is a real, quality DSLR. You'll be shocked at how much better your pictures are, even without manual controls -- and if you know what you're doing, there's no picture you can't snap. After using one, going back to a point-and-shoot will feel like using the camera on your old Motorola RAZR. Alternatively, you can get a smaller, cheaper, but still really great mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. If you're on a tight budget: The mirrorless cameras are significantly cheaper than DSLRs, but are still substantially better than point-and-shoots. However, they're still fairly costly, so if you're on a real budget, you can at least make the best of your point-and-shoot with custom firmware.

2. Inexpensive Cables

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

OK, so you probably know about this one, and it's sort of the opposite of the rest of this list: instead of paying more for higher quality, you can pay less for exactly the same. Overpriced cables at Harvey Norman are a waste of your money -- head to eBay and save a fortune.

1. A Desktop PC

Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From

Now, I know this may be a controversial selection, but hear me out: Desktop PCs do almost everything better than laptops, except travel. A mouse is better than a trackpad, a real keyboard is better than a condensed chiclet keyboard, you can get more powerful parts, use bigger monitors, and benefit from better ergonomics -- all at a lower price. So if you have the room in your house, it's well worth the investment, and hard to give up once you've gotten used to it.


Comments

    I agree with all of these, unless you need long-run cables. The cheap ebay 15m HDMI cables all seem to fail after a few months, I eventually optioned up and got a high quality HDMI cable made by a cable manufacturer in Sydney and it has been running perfectly for over a year now.

      I bought a 15m hdmi cable off eBay about 5 yeArs ago - worked perfectly.

        Have to agree with Dan on this one. I got a cheap eBay 15m cable a few years back and it's still going strong.
        I don't doubt that you're bound to find duds every now and then, but to rule them all out because of one bad one is just silly.

      I can recommend HDMI cables from EZYHD (both long and short lenghts). Great quality at a good price. I am not associated with them in any way (just a happy customer). Mods, if this type of recommendation is not allowed, please delete and excuse my ignorance.

      Replacing a $5 cable you might need to replace after 3 months is better than paying $200 for a cable.

        not if you need to run it through a wall or roof space.

        a $200 cable with a lifetime replacement guarantee, That $5 can add up.

      If you need long HDMI cables make sure they're 'active' or 'amplified'. Longer cables degrade quality so it's best to look for this feature.

    I don't know about the DSLR one... I've got a DSLR and I'm about to buy a point-and-shoot to replace it. It's just too bulky, I want something I can put in my pocket, anything with an external lens fails that test (unless you get the uber expensive pancake lenses, that don't even have zoom).

    Also, if I saw anyone talking to their phone to get it to set a reminder, I'd push them down a flight of stairs. It's about 1 step below the ultimate douchebaggery of technology usage.

      I guess its user experienced based. I've never wasted money on expensive HDMI cables, nor have any of my friends. We've never had problems with them. Please readers, don't buy expensive HDMI cables. It's such a scam and keeps places like Harvey Norman selling them to customers who don't know any better.

      Do yourself a favour and get an olympus OMD or something of the like. It weighs next to nothing, is half the size of a DSLR and with the right lens takes amazing photos.

        OMD is not pocketable. Sony has some very sexy compact cameras on the market right now.

        Those still aren't small enough to slip into your pocket. The lenses on them, especially the zoom lenses, protrude quite far. I'm talking about point-and-shoots like the high end Canon's and Sony's, as a comparison here, where they're actually small enough to put in your pocket to take with your while travelling.

      Yeah I think most photography hobbyists would eventually tool up with a DSLR and a PoS.

      In terms of quality and what you can do with the camera, the DSLR makes using anything else feel like repeatedly punching yourself in the face with a pin hole camera.

      ...which I believe is actually the current trend in hipster photography.

    Dont know about the cheap cables, they fail a lot, and if you spend 800 on a phone, why not spend more for a cable! or 1000 on a surround sound why not spend 50 on a HDMI.

      With HDMI the signals are digital. It will either work or not work. If the cheap ones didn't work, they couldn't be legally sold.

      The flakiest HDMI cable I've ever had was a chunky expensive one. These days I only use the cheap $5-10 jobs. They work perfectly, and if they screw up I can buy another three and still be ahead. (Noting here that I don't spring for the absolute cheapest cables I can find. I look for cheapish cables with apparently good build quality.)

      Now if you're using analogue - for example the cabling out to your speakers - a more expensive cable may be justifiable.

        It's not that it's digital, hdmi has error checking and correction.

      'They fail a lot.'

      They absolutely do not, this is just misinformation and it's shocking that people still believe this, let alone people who read LH. HDMI cables transmit digital signal, it's 0 or 100%. There is nothing that differentiates a $50 cable from a $5 one from eBay outside packaging and durability of sheathes (debatable).

      'if you spend 800 on a phone, why not spend more for a cable! or 1000 on a surround sound why not spend 50 on a HDMI.'

      Because while spending more on a phone or other well-researched product might get me more 'back' through appreciable improvements, I don't need to spend a single cent more on an HDMI cable to improve the sound and image.

        Except that you do.
        YMMV but there's dozens of articles you can read on how it's not a case of "it's digital, it either works or it doesn't".
        There's even different HDMI Categories to help reduce the effects (Categories, not Versions).

          That's just like saying USB 3.0 is different from USB 2.0. Yes there are different classes, but within, they're virtually identical. You can nothing by paying a 1000% markup for Monster cables, vs 'cheap' ones, i.e. what that user was implying.

    Desktop computers are obsolete except for a few specialised use case scenarios. All the listed benefits such as external mice keyboards and monitors can be used with a laptop with the benefit of not losing context when you decide to undock and go mobile. It's not a lower price when you go and buy both.

      Mmm mmm gotta love overheating and unable to replace / upgrade most parts yourself. That said, I do have a micro laptop for uni but I find using it a pretty frustrating experience in general.

      Last edited 24/08/14 1:07 pm

        Laptops are pretty much obsolete these days, my sub 1500 dollar desktop is faster than ANY laptop on the market today and the traditional uses for a laptop (Travel, Internet in bed/on the toilet) have all been replaced by tablets and smart phones.

          I agree that laptops are mostly obsolete now, but I still prefer a Laptop for work, where I need mobility of a tablet, but also need desktop peripherals (mouse/keyboard/monitor) since my eyes are too old and my fingers too sausage-like.

          I use PC for gaming and high resource utilization. Tablet for travel/browsing/remote control/toilet breaks.

            When tablets support Dvorak keyboards, and several apps open and visible at once on a screen, then maybe laptops are obsolete. Heck, I need two 21 inch (why do we still use inches for screen, BTW...a bit obsolete) screens on my desk to keep Outlook, Excel, Access and corporate databases open. Similar if I travel for work.

              Surface Pro and all the third party Windows 8 tablets do.

          Except laptops won't ever become truly obsolete until accessory support becomes more varied and doesn't just stick to Apple and the occasional Samsung tab.

          I use my laptop for freelance writing nearly every day (when I'm not near my desktop) because of the keyboard. Trying to write anything of length on a tablet is damn near impossible unless you get a keyboard case. And trying to find those for most tablets can be expensive.

            I use an asus transformer tablet, has a full keyboard with full sized USB ports and a track pad. runs android. I use it mostly to remote desktop to my main pc.

        Yes but for most people a notebook won't require parts to be replaced or upgraded. Even if you buy a super cheap notebook you get 4gb RAM, which isn't at all bad. And replacing RAMS pretty easy in a notebook. Replacing a hard drive won't cost much at your local corner shop IT store either.

          Not when they RAM is soldered to the board. There are quite a few slimmer laptops (mostly ultrabooks) that have soldered RAM because it saves space.

            Do people really expect to be able to upgrade an ultrabook.

      Where are you when you use your computer? If the answer to this question is "at home, at the computer desk," then you should get a desktop. People seem to have visions of themselves sitting on the back verandah in the sun typing flirty emails to their rich boyfriend/girlfriend, but mostly end up single and using the computer in the same place all the time. So if you don't need it to be mobile, compare the price of a laptop and desktop with equivalent specs and spend the remainder on a tablet, or a holiday, or an RSVP membership.

        Let's see. I have a desktop, almost never use it. Where do I use my computer? My desk, the couch, kitchen table, kitchen bench (recipes), at work, in the airport Lounge, on the airplane, in hotel rooms, on the train, when visiting parents over the holidays, (when I was a student: at university). A desktop is just not mobile enough, nigh damn impossible to take on a plane. A tablet and a phone can't replace what I use my computer for when I'm away from my home desk. If all you do is compose e-mail then think about the raw materials required to make a desktop vs. a laptop, and the amount of power required to run a desktop, and the laptop comes out in front by a country mile. I made a mistake of spending $1200 on a desktop, sat in a box for months almost immediately after buying due to work commitments. Now I couldn't imagine why anyone would buy one anymore. Even for gaming, it's easy to check-in a PS3 or Xbox, and all hotels now have TVs with HDMI. The difference in price wouldn't even get close to paying for a holiday.

          "I use my desktop/laptop [like this], and this pattern is completely unusable if I don't have [preferred form factor], therefore the [not preferred form factor] is doomed."

          Both formats have their advantages. Desktops typically have better ergonomics, better support for multiple monitors and a decent sound system, and are easier to upgrade. Laptops are far more portable, use less power, and with a bit of wrangling can be set up in such a way that the ergonomics are close to on par with a desktop. Price is now about the same; it used to be that a laptop demanded a 50-100% premium, but that premium is now much lower.

          Really, both have their place. It depends on how you use your PC. If you do most of your work in one place a desktop PC is perfectly usable.

          There are times when being unable to take your work with you is a feature, not a bug.

      Obsolete? Sure the popularity of Desktops may not be what they once were amongst the masses, but they wont ever become obsolete. The sheer ease of being able to replace parts, part prices, and the easy DIY replacement, along with the power for gamers, and those in the media/entertainment/gaming industries will ensure that desktops will never go the way of the dodo. I have never owned a laptop, and now that I have a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard, I never will. Desktop FTW.

    Ummm, I'm pretty sure that you can also use a keyboard and mouse with a notebook. Bigger monitor? Is this fact, or a nonsense statement? And cheaper is questionable. Whnn i've researched desktop vs notebook, notebook wins - has done for the last 8 years or so.

      If you compare high end gaming laptop vs desktop there can be considerable price difference. Top end gaming laptops can be a couple of grand more than a desktop with very similar specs.

      Take away the gaming (or video editing?) requirement, and a laptop will almost certainly be cheaper.

        Yeah that's my experience too. I was surprised that notebooks were better value than desktops.

    At the start of the year I dropped 170 on a corsair K70 (blue keys). Went back to my apple bluetooth keyboard after 3 months. I just didn't like it.

    I think the headphones should be number 1... there really is no going back after you feel the quality

    I agree about the mechanical keyboard... Ended up providing my own at work as just couldn't stand using something that wasn't mechanical!

    I read and post to LH exclusively on my phone. The internet is changing and so are websites... Hail portability.

    A quality mouse should be on that list.
    I bought myself a Logitech MX something for home and work.
    When ever I use someone else's mouse at work I am like -
    what is this mouse?! a mouse for small hands?! for ants?!
    I pity your hands that have to hold this stock crappy mouse for hours on end....

    Fair warning with with cheap HDMI cables. you are bound to run into HDCP issues with a lot of devices. I don't know why but its just personal experience.

    Last edited 26/08/14 8:53 am

    An SSD should have been number one - why was it so far down at 7? Those things are life-changing in everyday usage and productivity IMO.

    I disagree about the desktop being in there at all really. In fact, like myself many people have gone the other way. I used desktops exclusively for the first 20 years or so of my computing life but now for most of the last decade have gone to high-end laptops that suit my current "on-the-move" lifestyle better. Plus, I still get most of the features mentioned as pros - I use an external mechanical keyboard and great mouse while at home (and could use a large monitor if I wished as well), so I don't miss out on those and have both an mSATA and mechanical storage drive so it is still just as fast as a desktop with plenty of storage for games.

    Sure I don't get the luxury of easy-ish upgrades, but I can just buy another new generation laptop if this one starts falling behind.

    Last edited 26/08/14 5:18 pm

    Love the fact the first picture of headphones are AKG Q701's, I'm absolutely in love with mine :P

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