Fingerprint magnets

If you’re researching a laptop or mobile phone purchase online, you’re probably ran into the term “fingerprint magnet”. This term is used to describe a piece of technology that for some reason or other displays the marks left by the oils and whatever other filthy stuff that you have on your hands visually, like in the photo below.

Evidence of the laptop not being a virgin

This, according to the reviews, is a Bad Thing, and can be listed in the pros and cons section of the review, which might look like this:


+ powerful enough to satisfy the computing needs of a medium-sized village

+ costs less than you spend on BBQ potato chips in a year

+ can fit in your bag


– Fingerprint magnet

Unless you are going to use the laptop as a murder weapon, and I don’t see why you should, I have a hard time understanding how this matters. But unless you really stop and think, you are going to unconsciously align with the the reviewer’s notion that it’s really bad if you can see where your laptop has been touched.

So why would the review mention it if it doesn’t matter in the slightest? Why isn’t the review focusing on the important stuff, like how the machine really works? Well that’s because it’s kinda hard to write original reviews on the laptop models that are coming out a dozen a minute, so you use what you usually use, and somehow the Fingerprint Issue has worked its way into the template.

Now, why is this important? Why should anyone care that there is stuff that nobody should care about in the online reviews? Because your pre-purchase research usually consists of reading spammy review sites that really only exist to collect some visitors to show adverts to. Or watching youtube, which is even worse. And while reading you don’t just get information on the features you think are important, you also get information on what features are important. And you expose yourself enough to teenagers raging about fingerprints, you start to believe that they really matter, and you start asking questions like “Yeah, well, but how’s it handle fingerprints?”. That’s how any poison works, get enough of it into your system and you are affected.

If this were only about the fingerprints, I wouldn’t mind, but stuff like this is how most of the constant upgrade cycle of stuff you’re sold is justified. 14% less fingerprints! That’s great because the fingerprints on my laptop are really holding back the book I’m writing! Now I can stop wiping it every time I touch it and just start typing!

Really, we’re at the point where most stuff, even old stuff, is pretty great. Cameras, computers, phones, bikes, what have you. Don’t search online for reasons to upgrade. You’ll notice when it doesn’t do what you need it to do, and by that time you also know what you need. I’m guessing fingerprint resistance isn’t on top of the list.


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