Obsolescence is a measure of tech progress. That’s why the gadgets we couldn’t imagine living without ten years ago – that old Walkman, your black brick of a beeper, and camera with multiple rolls of film – are laughably out-of-date today. Yet oddly, some products which ought to be dead and buried are still being actively manufactured and sold as new. Believe it or not, you can still walk or log into a store and buy a new cassette boom box to use for your breakdancing routine.
Sprint’s Lenovo IdeaPad S205s WiMAX Mini Notebook
Sprint recently revealed it would be offering the Lenovo IdeaPad S205s WiMAX mini notebook for $199.99 on a two-year contract, the bizarre announcement that spurred this list. The company just affirmed weeks ago that it was done with WiMAX phones, but evidently it thinks WiMAX notebooks stand a whole class apart.
In case you’ve always wanted a subsidized notebook that uses an archaic wireless standard, or you fancy the idea of being stuck with the device for two years, here’s your chance. Hiding beneath the no-frills 11.6-inch (1366x768) display, a 1.33 GHz dual-core Intel U5600 processor runs the show, and the machine comes with 2GB of RAM and 250GB of storage onboard. You can grab the IdeaPad S205s right now, either in-store or at Sprint’s website.
Polaroid 300 Instant Camera
The problem with today's cameras is that they show you the photos as soon as you snap them. Remember back in the 1970s, when you snapped a Polaroid and then had to sit there and watch as it slowly developed over the course of 5 minutes? By the time that overexposed picture of your dad in his leisure suit finally appeared, you felt like you'd earned it.
Fear not, because Polaroid is still making instant film cameras in 2012. A testament to the delayed gratification shooter of old, this throwback Polaroid 300 employs four lighting settings and auto-flash to freeze any moment, reproducing a physical copy of the scene as quickly as you can take pleasure in it. Just make sure you’re ready to deal with refills—the camera only works with Polaroid 300 Instant Film, which isn’t included with the purchase. The camera is $69 from Polaroid’s official online store and comes in shades of red, blue and black.
USB 1.1 4-Port Pocket Hub
Never mind that USB 1.1 was released fourteen years ago, that USB 2.0 launched in the year 2000, and that the latest specification, USB 3.0, has been out for a few years. This plucky little USB Pocket Hub accessory from Belkin doesn’t care. It offers four whole Plug-and-Play ports in the outmoded USB 1.1 standard, two generations behind. If you must own this obsolete piece of hardware -- who knows, maybe you want to be ironic about it -- you’ll only have to toss away $10 at Belkin’s website.
56K Serial Controller Faxmodem
Feeling nostalgic for that late '90s modem sound you couldn't escape as you struggled to connect to the Internet? Or maybe you just miss being able to download data at a more sedate pace of 56,000 bits per second.
Today's your lucky day! For a paltry $89.95, you can grab a genuine 56K Faxmodem on US Robotic's official website, a gadget that's incomprehensibly still being produced by the company. In case 56 kbit/s still seems a bit jarring for you, note that this is only the modem's theoretical speed. FCC regulations limit receiving speeds to 53 Kbps, plus actual speeds vary depending on several other factors.
Now, once more, you'll be able to relive the glory days of downtempo Internet cruising -- before all this broadband nonsense cropped up. Plus this peripheral strays away from the modern-day USB standard, sticking to the all-but-extinct serial port instead. Perfect.
Bytecc USB External Floppy Disk Drive
Ah, the good ol' 3.5-inch floppy disk -- what a comforting sight, with its sturdy corners and flinty rectangular plastic coating. At just 1.44MB per disk, you can store one high-res photo on maybe three or four of these. Notebooks and desktops stopped coming with floppy drives years ago, but now you can backup files like it's 1986 again with the Bytecc USB external floppy disk drive, that's available at through NewEgg.
Coby CX-244 Portable AM/FM Cassette Player
It's gotten so difficult to plan a romantic gesture these days. Really, how are you supposed to pull off that boom box scene from "Say Anything" without any portable tape players still in production? Well, here’s a gadget that can come to your rescue: the Coby CX-244 Portable AM/FM Cassette Player. It even comes with a one-touch, automatic level recorder -- presumably to let you store that cheesy radio song to later blast under someone’s window. But first you’ll need to scrounge up a blank cassette tape. You've still got those lying around, right?
If saving your documents so you can edit and reproduce them later seems too futuristic for your 19th century brain, consider this typewriter series from Brother. Whether you're a technophobe or just a time traveler from the past, at least one of these models is bound to be your perfect machine. Unfortunately, they do use electricity.
Crosley Rotary-style Telephones
Here's a fun fact. Did you know they say you're "dialing" a phone, because phones used to have rotary dials? These push-button, rotary-style telephones from Crosley might be replicas and not exactly the real thing, but the fact that they pay homage to some of the most recognizable designs in history is pretty neat. The roster of products includes Princess Phones, Candlesticks, desk phones and pay phones, and the devices cost about $50 to $70 apiece.
AT&T Adjunct Answering Machine
Sure, you’ve probably got voicemail on your smartphone, but don't you miss having a separate machine to take your messages? Now you too can live like Jim Rockford from the Rockford Files with this dedicated answering machine from AT&T’s online store.
Toshiba DVD/VCR Player
Remember the days when you had to rent movies on VHS and rewind them before hauling them back to the video store? It was always a blast to know that if you didn't get back to the store by 9 pm to drop your video in the slot, you'd be hit with a huge late fee. If you desperately want to resurrect that era, Toshiba's got you covered. Available for $120 online, this VCR boasts one-touch recording and that classically ugly black boxy look to make all your friends and family wonder if they’ve been transported back to the mid-90s when they spot this irrelevant relic of a gadget displayed in your media room.