I started my 19 days of tech adventure in Asia hell-bent on mastering the art of selfie sticks. With their long arms and stabilizing bases, they would be the perfect tools for shooting photos and video while solo-traveling, so long as I got over my embarrassment and actually used the darn things.
Why two? I had the inexpensive, but technically more advanced one I bought before my trip for about $15 (about £10 or AU$20) from a Walgreen's convenience store, and a dirt-cheap variety I picked up for $1 from a tiny stall in an open-air market in Shanghai.
Each one has its pros and cons. The Polaroid-branded stick I got in San Francisco connects through Bluetooth and requires a charge to work. It's got rotating vertical and horizontal clamps to help keep the device in place and angled how you want it. And it can unscrew the phone mount to screw in an action camera.
But the plastic parts kept loosening and a non-essential extra to help secure the phone kept falling off. The charging cable looked warped and corrupted, and since it's proprietary, I couldn't charge the stick with any other cable.
This Polaroid stick also runs out of battery fast if you forget to turn Bluetooth off. When it works, just pressing a button on the stem triggers the phone's camera shutter. I'm not sure why it stopped working with the paired phone, but it did, and no amount of recharging or repairing fixed it.
So then, the cheap selfie stick. Dead-simple, this design uses a cable you plug into the headphone jack. Pro: It'll work instantly with any phone. Con: The cable will eventually stretch too far and stop working. When fully extended, this selfie stick bent more than the other under the phone's weight.
I'm not sure why this one stopped working either, but it did coincide with my taking it into the pool. Wrapped with a rubber grip, I figured the metal extender arm would be fine if I held it a couple inches underwater to take a gloaty, "in the pool, b****es" type photo. It worked...and then later that night it didn't.
I haven't lost a fortune on malperforming tech, but I'm not much closer to loving selfie sticks than I did before. Now I'm just irked I had to take too-close selfies at the elephant park without one.