What are the UK’s most popular gadgets?

Tech product ownership in the UK

Tech frenzied and a society obsessed with technology are just two of the labels I’ve regularly heard applied to the UK. We’ve certainly never been so passionate about our technology – just look at the almost religious devotion that a new Apple product brings out in its fans – not to mention the camping and queuing. For many, an uninterrupted broadband connection has come to be considered an essential utility in the same vein as water or gas. It certainly has for me.

How many gadgets do we really own?

But how many tech products do we really use? At Which? we always strive to test the products that are most relevant to consumers so it’s important we know what people are buying.

To find out we asked 996 Which? Members what tech products they regularly used, from laptops and phones to digital radios and tablets. There were 8 products to choose from.  You can see the results below, as well as quotes from our own tech experts on their product ownership. We also asked Stephen Fry just how many gadgets he really has at his fingertips. You can find out the answer on May 29th in our technology podcast.

Tech ownership in the UK

We asked 996 Which? Members which products they use regularly

Most of the results confirm suspicions that we are having a love affair with technology; particularly our mobile phones which are an almost permanent fixture on our ears – or these days our fingertips.

But there are some surprises; despite all the fireworks and fanfare around tablets, ownership in the UK is still relatively low and in stark comparison to the nearly 7 in 10 of us who regularly use a laptop. On the death of the paperback; it does seem like we have taken to ebook readers, with one in five of us using a device which is almost solely dedicated to reading books.

More encouraging is that nearly 50% of us who regularly use a digital radio – which suggests the imminent death of radio has been much exaggerated. The handheld camcorder, on the other hand, looks like it will soon be just a memory – one probably associated with dodgy 1980s You’ve Been Framed clips.

Which? Tech experts and which gadgets they couldn’t live without

In light of the results of our survey we had a quick straw poll of the members of the Which? Tech team to find out how they compared against the UK population. Just how many products do our tech researchers use on a regular basis and what couldn’t they live without.

Rich Parris: Deputy Editor Which? Computing
Products regularly used 4; mobile phone, digital camera, digital radio, laptop

Rich Parris on the trail of better viewfindersI’m struggling to remember how I ever lived without a smartphone, so that would definitely top my list!  I’m none too happy with the camera on my smartphone, however, which is why I still don’t want to live without my DSLR.  I’d also struggle to live without my laptop, it’s years old but lovingly refurbished. And last up?  My internet radio.  Love it.  Forget DAB, I happily skipped ahead to the next-gen with a radio that can access thousands upon thousands of global radio channels and stream podcasts.

Katie Waller:
Camera expert
Products regularly used 5; mobile phone, digital camera, digital radio, laptop, ebook reader

I surprise myself that it’s as many as five, but I’m sure I could give a couple of them up if I had to! I’ve always consumed radio daily – all of my radios at home are now digital so I listen on digital by default, but I reckon I could go back to FM easily enough. When it comes to books I switch between paper, ereader and my phone, but I’m riding the ereader wave right now. It’s a toss up between my phone and laptop as to which I really couldn’t be without.


Catherine West: Laptop expert
Products regularly used 3; mobile phone, laptop, digital radio

Of the three products on the list my mobile phone is miles ahead as the gadget I couldn’t possibly live without. I use it for email, social networking, reading, playing games and as a camera (and of course phone calls!). In many ways it has replaced a lot of the love I used to have for my laptop as there’s not so much left to do on there by the time I get home.


Andrew Vandervell: Deputy Editor Technology
Products regularly used 5; mobile phone, laptop, digital camera, ebook reader, tablet

It should come as no surprise that I use a lot of technology – it’s my job. If I had to choose just three I’d choose my laptop, tablet and smartphone. They do all the things most of my other tech possessions do – I can watch TV on all three, for instance. But I also have a Kindle, which I love and use everyday, and I’d probably be a bit lost without a TV and games console, the latter of which I use more for watching TV than games these days. I have a netbook collecting dust in a drawer somewhere – any takers?


Katie Hill: Senior Investigations Expert
Products regularly used 2; Mobile phone, digital radio

Katie HillI use my mobile for most things to save lugging extra gadgets round in my bag; the camera quality’s good enough for everyday shots and lots of my music is on there.  But while I use my mobile every day, I could definitely live without it and enjoy the rare moments of lost reception or a dead battery. I would, however, be truly stuck without a good digital radio.


Christopher Christoforou: Tablet expert
Products regularly used 5; mobile phone, digital camera, laptop, tablet, MP3 player

Christopher ChristoforouWe have a new baby boy, so I’ve dusted off the old DSLR and am taking lots of pictures again. I know that a mobile phone won’t do the job, picture quality is imperative and I don’t mind carrying the extra weight. My mobile phone is always with me. I recently bought quite a good smartphone and I use it too much – I think I am addicted to Twitter! I use a netbook for working outside the home – to type a long email – whereas if I want to casually check something online, I’ll most often reach for my tablet – you can’t beat it for convenience.

How many gadgets does Stephen Fry use?

We also asked one more person how many tech products he used; Stephen Fry. We caught up with Stephen on a work day and asked him just how many products he was using – just on that single day.

Mr Fry himself will be revealing the answer in our technology podcast on Tuesday May 29th, when he’ll also be talking about whether we really couldn’t live without all our gadgets.

Does Mr Fry live up to his reputation as a gadget guru or did we catch him with a paperback book and a pen and paper? Give us your best guess on how many tech products Stephen Fry uses by leaving a guess in the comment box below.

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8 replies

  1. I reckon he talks a lot of gadgets but probably doesn’t use more than the rest of us on a daily basis – 3 – a phone, a laptop and a tablet. Oops, maybe 4 with a Kindle

  2. Trick question, trick question. It’s definitely going to be 0, or maybe 1 – just a phone. I think he was sitting at an oak desk writing with a quill of something equally Stephen Fryish. I’m going for one.

  3. From a single smartphone to a bagful of cables and hardware; the weekly tech podcast is live and you can finally find out exactly how many gadgets Stephen Fry was packing when we caught up with him.

    We’re also talking with digital data security firm Vigilante Bespoke about our online privacy as well as looking into the price hike for existing Three customers.

    Which? Tech podcast – http://www.which.co.uk/podcasts/technology/2012/05/29/

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