I admit it – I’m a technology nerd who loves playing with the latest and greatest. But often that’s really all it is – playing. I’ll mess with something for a few hours, make a snap judgement, and move on.

Recently I started to wonder why I’m so quick to judge products. They all have nuances and subtleties. They all have real, dedicated, smart people behind them. There’s no way I can truly understand all of that in three hours.

On top of that, it’s kind of a waste of time. Spending a couple hours here and there without learning anything meaningful (or finding a great product) is a bummer.

So I’m trying something new. I’m going to experiment with fewer products for longer stretches of time. When I pick up some new tech, I’m going to live with it, all-in, for 30 days. I’ll completely switch from an existing product to a new one.

I’ll consider a variety of switch-related questions. Why am I dissatisfied with a current product? What’s exciting or interesting about the new product? How hard or easy was it to switch? And ultimately, was it good enough to keep me?

First up…

Windows Phone vs. iOS

I switched my Verizon service to a Nokia Lumia 928 for 30 days. I took all my calls on it, took pictures of my kids, logged into all my accounts, downloaded a bunch of apps, used Skydrive instead of Dropbox, and put my iPhone on the shelf.

It was eye-opening – Windows Phone is really good and deserves a look from everyone. In many ways it tops iOS with:

  • A dedicated camera button (especially handy if you have kids). Pressing and holding a dedicated button to launch the camera, then half-pressing it to focus the shutter is really great. And the photos themselves looked great too.
  • Great Skydrive integration. Any photos or videos you take are automatically uploaded via wifi as full resolution files. Dropbox on iOS does something similar when your location changes, but Skydrive worked better for me.
  • Apps that work together instead of being sandboxed. Open the music app, and you’ll see your last played songs from Spotify and Pandora. Open the camera app, and a variety of lenses and filters are available to you. Context to what you want to do (listen to music, for example) is given priority over specific apps.

And yet all that said, iOS still won out. Nitpicks and all, iOS has become extraordinarily mature over the last 6 years. It has a huge universe of great apps, incredibly useful services like iMessage and Airplay, and perfect hardware integration. So I didn’t end up switching, but I learned a ton about what Apple could be doing better.

A few others in the hopper…

Picturelife vs. Aperture/iCloud

Picturelife is a secure, online vault for all your photos. It syncs up a bunch of sources (Aperture, iPhoto, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) so you have a wonderfully consolidated view of all your photos that’s always accessible. Ever want to see a picture from 2001? It’s there. I’m about a week into it, and it looks really promising – especially because it’s so easy to find embarrassing old pictures of friends and family!

Twitter’s official client vs. Tweetbot

I’m a loyal Tweetbot user on both Mac and iOS. But the official Twitter clients are interesting – they’re clear, simple, and fast. They’re not as featured-packed as Tweetbot, but maybe that’s a good thing. They display ads, but maybe the new conversation view is worth it. This experiment starts today, so we’ll see.

Misfit Shine vs. Fitbit Zip

To be fair, circumstances forced this switch – I lost my Fitbit! But that’s a valid reason to consider a switch. If I was perfectly satisfied, I could have simply bought another Fitbit. The Misfit Shine started off as Kickstarter project to make a better wireless activity tracker, and it’s elegant and simple. That’s proven to be both good and bad early on. We’ll see how it goes for the next 30 days.

So these are just a few examples, but the idea is the same throughout – for me to really learn the good, bad, and ugly of a product, I have to spend a lot of time with it. Best case, I’ll find a really great product. Worst case, I’ll have learned a lot – and that’s time well spent.