Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.
Whether it’s reunion tours of 80’s hair metal bands or favorite childhood games, people have a huge interest in the things they grew up with—even technology.
That might seem a little weird considering how disposable most of our gadgets are today. People keep smartphones for maybe two years before gleefully buying a newer model. But with a few tweaks, some tech companies have found ways to make old tech new again.
Here a few examples that are worth checking out.
During the 1960s and 70s, there was nothing cooler than being able to take photos and then immediately get prints of your shot. But today’s digital cameras mostly lack that ability. Polaroid was thought to be all but dead in 2008 when it filed for bankruptcy for a second time and temporarily quit producing cameras, but a wave of nostalgia (and the hiring of Lady Gaga as the brand’s face) brought it back. Today, the $70 Polaroid PIC-300 lets users take snapshots that they can print as business card sized photos within at least four seconds. You’ll need to use special Polaroid film, just like the cameras of old. A two-pack of that film that will take 20 pictures will run you $20.
The iconic 80s audio staple is back, thanks in large part to Monster Products. The $400 SuperStar Monster Blaster has been rethought for the current generation with an integrated subwoofer, giving it a deep, rich sound that’s designed to not only aim audio directly at users, but also bounce the sound off of walls to fill the room. It comes with a pair of different sound modes, a USB charging slot, and, a rechargeable battery. It will pair with smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, but it didn’t go so far as to add an old-school cassette or CD player.
Sony built its reputation with the first portable music player, but it then failed to innovate—opening the door for competitors and eventually smart phones to dominate the scene. There’s still power in the Walkman name, though, and Sony’s hoping to capitalize on it with the $420 NW-A37HN 64GB Walkman. Don’t let the alphabet soup product name put you on pause. The device offers high-resolution audio and a minimal design that lets you focus on the music.
Honestly, we don’t see a tremendous difference between Casio’s $15 CA53W Databank Watch and the models that were hot in the early 1980s. But they’re still popular with users. The eight-digit calculator lets you add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but that’s about it. It is a thinner, lighter model than its parent (or grandparent) and is water resistant. It may not have all the features of an Apple Watch, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the $269 to $1,299 those will run you.
The Super 8 camera has long been a favorite medium of filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams and was a standard for just about anyone who shot home movies in the 1970s. Last year at the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, Kodak turned a lot of heads when it announced plans to revive the long dormant brand, this time merging analog and digital. The product failed to ship on schedule, but this year Kodak showed off a working prototype that used film, but also had an LCD monitor, a SD recording slot (for audio only) and an HDMI port that let people watch the footage on a large monitor. There’s still no definitive date of availability, but the company has hinted that the first units, which will cost $2,000, will be out before summer. Later non-special edition models are expected to cost less.
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