Particularly over the last decade, we have witnessed convergence of technology at any increasing rate. Ten years ago, mobile phones did little more than make and receive calls and SMS. MMS was later introduced while camera and video functionality started to appear as entry level features. Mobile phones have also turned into mobile broadband modems and even Wi-Fi hotspots as we now look towards Long Term Evolution (LTE) services on the horizon. GPS and location based services are fast becoming a staple in smartphones.
We’ve also seen a transition from dialup modems to broadband and Wi-Fi has become fairly commonplace. Many households would have a router modem, wireless router or wireless router modem to share their broadband connection. We have a great deal of other converged devices like clock radios, games consoles (which also play DVDs, Blu-ray in amongst general media centre functionality) and multifunction devices (MFDs that print, fax, scan and copy) with wired and wireless network connectivity.
I think it’s amazing how much functionality can be squeezed into one device these days. However, one has to question if converged devices are necessarily better than standalone ones?
In terms of benefits, converged devices may help you save space particularly for larger devices like printers and scanners. Also, depending on the converged device you are purchasing, you could potentially save money compared to buying devices to cover all of the composite functions. Otherwise, you could afford to pay for a converged device with higher specifications.
Unfortunately, the downside is if your converged device fails for whatever reason you will lose all of that converged functionality instead of one device with specific functionality. Furthermore, if a converged device fails outside of the warranty period, you could be up higher repair costs depending on the extent of failure. Another downside with some converged devices is that they attempt to be a jack of all trades but end up doing a really crumby job. As always, it pays to do your research on product reviews and even get a look at the device up close and personal at a major store (like Dick Smith or Officeworks here in Australia).
Personally, I favour converged devices where practical and I don’t hesitate to spend a little more to obtain the quality that I expect from my purchases. I will also spend a significant amount of time comparing specifications, reviews and price before I commit to a decision. To further protect the converged devices I do purchase I make sure they are surge protected (which I have covered in a prior blog) either by a surge protection power board or a UPS.
So there are positives and negatives in both cases but I hope I have given you some food for thought to help you make up your own mind.