Posted by Matt Egan 05 January 2015
Why a smartphone is more important than a TV at Christmas
To those of you who work in a job in which you get a Chrismas break, it will seem a long time ago. And I do appreciate that not everyone is so fortunate. But many of us are today back at work having spent much of the past fortnight in a fug of cheese and chocolate. Hibernating on the couch, waiting out the holidays with family and friends.
There's a good reason for this, and it has little to do with faith. Every major civilisation in history has had some sort of big winter party. A celebration when nature is at its lowest ebb and daylight its most scarce. An opportunity to stop awhile in the toughest part of winter, to rest, take stock, fatten up and go again for the final stetch toward spring.
Which is great, right? But not without complications.
Because as wonderful as it is to get multiple generations of the family under the same roof - or simply to get away from it all - the time can hang heavy. And if you are fortunate to have a week or more away from work, with fewer daily distractions the nice break can become dull. Especially if you are expecting to be entertained by the TV.
Fortunately we are more connected, in more ways, than ever before. This can be a bad thing: it would make you sad to know the number of people trolling our websites on Christmas day. It can be difficult to switch off. But it can also make your Christmas break a more rich and entertaining experience, as well as allowing you to connect with love ones with whom you are not physically close. And none of it needs to take away from the restful nature of the break.
So we asked PC Advisor and Tech Advisor readers what connected device they needed the most over Christmas, and listing as many as we could think of as options. We also allowed them to opt out by proffering the option 'None of the above, I will spend time with my family'.
A healthy looking 18 percent of respondents selected that option. Good for them. I should say that I spent Christmas doing exactly that, and quite consciously laid aside my smartphone throughout, but I still needed and used my laptop for work, my smartphone for work and sharing the event with friends, and my tablet for reading and watching movies.
I wasn't alone.
The most popular device by far was smartphone, with 23 percent of the nearly 5,000 votes. This makes perfect sense to me. With a smartphone you can actively share via Facebook the events of your festive period. You can - yes - call (or video call) family and friends, and stay in touch via text and email. And a smartphone is also a connected entertainment device, allowing you to watch, listen, read and play wherever you are. And it is truly portable.
Your laptop (the next answer with 18 percent of the vote) can do all of the above with the exception of cellular voice calls and texts. So no surprises that it was so popular. It will also help out the workaholics, no doubt. I guess the same could be said of desktop PC (16 percent), albeit that those people aren't traveling over Christmas.
Perhaps more surprising is the relative lack of popularity of the final two choices. Tablet getting 12 percent of the vote makes sense in a way, given that it equates to around half the votes that went to smartphone. Tablets are, after all, smartphones with big screens. They are great, but nothing like as popular as their smaller cousins.
But the poor old TV was the answer for only 10 percent of respondents. Feel free to insert your own 'the BBC shows only repeats' gag in here, but it does seem that the role of the first screen in the front room is less important than it was. It would certainly have garnered more than 10 percent of votes five years ago.
In my house the TV never goes on, on Christmas Day, almost as a point of honour. But for many people traditionally a few hours in front of the box has been an important part of the Christmas break. There is little the TV can do that your smartphone, tablet or laptop cannnot, however. And those devices offer a host of other applications, as outlined above.
So the TV will continue to become less important, albeit with one killer app that the others can't replicate. Your TV is the only screen in the house that is used by many at the same time. So as odd as it may seem, the long-term future of the TV may be a good thing for your family gathering.