Is it true love, or are we crazy about our gadgets?
Byline: Dana Bartholomew
With their high-def TV and
houseful of gizmos, the Mojicas are more plugged in than a blockful of Christmas
lights -- and hungry for the hottest in holiday digitalia.
"My sons are gadget heads. They want everything that comes out -- and I pay for
it, depending on their grades," said Rosa Mojica, 34, of Winnetka, shopping for
two $300 iPod Videos at Best Buy. "We have to keep up to date with all the new
The Mojicas are not alone. Millions of Americans have turned into high-tech
junkies, according to a poll on gadgets released Wednesday. They gab on smart
phones. Saunter with iPods. Surf on laptops. And slay monsters -- and their
friends -- on the latest digital gaming devices.
Nearly half of personal computer owners say they can't imagine life without
them, while almost the same number of cell-phone users wouldn't dream of going
mobile without ring tones.
The plugged-in habit doesn't come cheap: more than one-third of the nation's
households report spending more than $200 a month for cell phone, Internet and
The coast-to-coast poll, conducted last week by Associated Press-Ipsos,
suggested a marriage between Americans and their digital machines.
"It's true, there is a love affair with digital technology in this country,"
said Jenny Pareti , a spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics Association, host
of the blockbuster International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next
"We are now looking at future trends in robotics ... refrigerators that order
your food online and stoves that turn on 15 minutes before you get home."
The average American owns 25 consumer electronic gadgets, from MP3 music players
to digital cameras to desktop PCs to flat-panel TVs.
This holiday season, revenues from electronic devices are expected to jump 9
percent, according to CEA estimates, with $17 billion in factory sales.
While MP3 players such as Apple iPods top holiday wish lists, digital cameras
and video-game consoles are right behind.
For many families, it's the kids who pry their parents' purses.
"It's crazy, they don't even want any clothes any more, they just want gadgets
-- anything that's hip," said Sonia Quiroz , 33, of Orange, shopping for a $400
Xbox360 game station and a $1,000 laptop for two teens.
While Quiroz discussed prices on a cell phone, her 4-year-old son gunned down
soldiers on a nearby Xbox. "You need a part-time job just to keep up with the
gadgets," she said.
Among the AP poll findings:
--Between 75 percent and 88 percent of U.S. households contain at least one VCR,
CD and DVD player, cell phone and personal computer.
--Roughly one in three households have an electronic game console, portable game
device and a high-definition TV.
--One in four own an MP3 player and a DVR recorder such as TIVO. Fourteen
percent subscribe to satellite radio.
While 61 percent had high-speed Internet connections, 46 percent said they
couldn't imagine living without their personal computer.
"I couldn't live without my PC," said Jay Kang , 19, of Reseda, shopping for an
iPod to play tunes in his car. "The research, the music, the contact with
Analysts say consumers are hotter than ever before to chuck their gadgets for
the latest gizmos. Many would rather die, they say, before being seen with a
5-year-old video recorder.
"We are replacing devices at three to five times the rate of old radios and
TVs," said Richard Doherty , an analyst of consumer gadget trends for the
Envisioneering Group in New York. "Mostly, we get more bang for the buck -- the
performance doubles every 18 months.
"We have definitely become a throwaway-gadget society."
For Mojica, it means paying between $600 and $700 a month to pay for her cell
phone, cable and Internet connections, she said. But it's worth it, especially
the 61-inch high definition TV.
"I couldn't live without it," she said. "I couldn't live without my TV."
Some, however, are growing weary of the hassle.
"I sometimes say, I've just had it with all these gadgets 'cause you have to
learn about them, read the manuals," said Allison Sullivan, 59, of Woodland
Hills. "Sometimes it's just too much."