We’re entering the golden age of gadgets. Walking the aisles at Best Buy is an eye-opening experience – there’s already an overwhelming range of choices, innovations, and features at rapidly falling prices, and the pace is only increasing.

The level of complexity is rising even more quickly. It’s already virtually impossible to make an informed choice, and setup is becoming exponentially more difficult. The editor of a special Wired Magazine issue devoted to gadgets says:

“These days, my early experiences seem to hold true for every category of consumer electronics I dive into, from DV cams to laptops. I’ve now tested more devices in more variations than I care to recall. I’ve learned a lot, but in each case, making the right decision required hours of research, with no small amount of money wasted on missteps. . . . [A]long with the explosion of digital media, home theater and pocket gear has come equally unprecedented complexity and risk. It’s too hard to know what to buy – and that starts with a dearth of solid, trustworthy advice and hands-on experience.”

Manufacturers and distributors are frustrated by timid customers, but even more frustrated by customers returning nondefective items because the customers can’t make them work. Best Buy, Dell and Sony, among others, are experimenting with paid consulting to set up new devices. Here’s an article about the new home help squads. Good luck on the day after Christmas! Don’t let the gadgets get you down!

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