Top 5 gadgets from the early 21st century

Technology writer and drone expert Adam Juniper joined me to discuss machines that go bleep.

Adam Juniper spent many years editing and publishing books on photography, which over the years has become more about technology than chemicals.

Adam and I discussed the fun and frustration that can be had when delving into the world of smart home tech, and you can read more of Adam’s thoughts on this — and other desirable tech — on his Tech Yearning blog.

Like my, Adam had a Game Gear, which you can hear discussed in episode 1 of this very podcast.

We also discussed the “Privacy: It’s a Crime” campaign:


As a listening note: we do talk about the Amazon Echo devices and the lady that lives inside them, but rest assured, thanks to the ingenious editing technique of cutting out a bit of the word Alea*, your costly egg timer won’t be set off.

Adam’s picks

In order of discussion:

Apple iPhone

Although Adam labelled this the gadget that killed all other gadgets (and most tech pundits agree that the iPhone 4 is the peak of Apple’s design), the first-generation iPhone from 2007 was an indisputably magical device. Not so magical for iJustine, who recorded a video unboxing her first post-iPhone AT&T bill.


USB flash drive

It’s such a humble gadget that many of us don’t think about it, but the USB flash drive, USB stick, USB “key” (it’s not a key) or “jump drive” (if you’re Griffin McElroy from 20012) is ubiquitous, and astonishingly

Parrot AR drone

Most boys wanted a remote-controlled car when they were growing up, but now 21st-century children get to want tiny helicopters that can be controlled with a smartphone. Adam was captivated by the Parrot drone when he saw one at a trade show, and has vastly upped his drone game in the intervening years.

Jaguar I-Pace

Adam picked this model, but wanted to submit electric cars in general. He likes the full-on gadgetiness of an electric car, and is also pleased to be able to talk about one that isn’t a Tesla.

Smart speaker

Adam has tested all the major smart speaker brands, and prefers the Apple HomePod, which is less of a smart speaker and more of… well, a really good-sounding speaker. But whether it’s an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, smart speakers are wonderfully useful gadgets for controlling your home and reminding you to take the chicken out of the oven.

My picks

In order of discussion:

Apple iPad

I picked the device that, incidentally was in design before the iPhone, but wouldn’t come out for another three years. This tablet has gone through a number of design iterations and is now available in a multitude of sizes, and is now firmly one of my everyday carries (as the tech writers would have it). I especially love the 2018 Pro.

Flip Video

I was given a Flip camera as a parting gift after leaving a job in 2008, and it has remained one of my favourite gadgets of old. It was incredibly relevant for a very short period of time, before it was superseded by that dratted iPhone. The revelation was not only its point-and-shoot simplicity or its in-built storage, but the ease of transfer to a computer, compared with a MiniDV camera from the same era.

Nintendo Switch

Although I grew up without the joy of consoles as an everyday part of my life, I always identified as a Sega fan. And yes, like everyone else in the early 2000s I had a Nintendo Wii, but it wouldn’t be until the first ad for the Switch in 2016 that I’d begin my love affair with this powerful, portable and flexible games console. And I can still play Sonic on it.

Apple AirPods

Our third Apple device is something I picked without apology, as it’s a marvel in miniaturised tech. These wireless earbuds have been oft-copied, but they do “just work”, in Apple parlance (and given that I’ve some Sony wireless earbuds to compare them to, that phrase is more than just marketing.)

Gadgets that went under the wire

Because they’re a little too old, but deserve a nod:

  • GSM phones
  • DVD player
  • MiniDisc
  • Dial-up modems
  • Apple iBook
  • Virtual reality

Honourable mentions

More of Adam Juniper

As well as Adam’s blog, you can also buy his books on Amazon, follow him on Instagram and on Twitter, listen to the Photographer Podcast and That Option No Longer Exists, and ask him about publishing.

Add your response

Privacy policy