Jeeyeon Oh from South Korea shows a picture taken of her and a friend on the Polaroid Socialmatic instant print camera at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Jan. 6, 2015. (EPA Photo/Michael Nelson)
Six Gadgets You Thought Were Dead Are New Again at CES
JANUARY 09, 2015
The Consumer Electronics Show is the technology industry’s annual celebration of what’s new. Walk the show floor in Las Vegas this week and you’ll find rows of curved phones, curved televisions and curved virtual-reality goggles. Why curved? Because we can.
Caught up in the rush to create the future, technology companies often dip into the past for inspiration. This approach has led to breakthroughs, including Nintendo’s NES, Microsoft’s Windows and just about everything Apple has created in recent history. But some of these new things can feel old and irrelevant even before they’re available in stores.
This year’s CES has served as the comeback event for several technologies and brands that probably should have stayed in the past. For example, did you know that Palm is coming back thanks to China’s TCL? The company didn’t say what products it will sell. (Hopefully a personal digital assistant!) In the meantime, here are six products at CES that refuse to die.
Sony spent a portion of its press conference on the Walkman NW-ZX2. The company, which basically created the portable music market with the Walkman in 1979, is making a push behind this dedicated device focused on high-quality audio.
“Sony has been offering the broadest lineup of high-res audio products in the industry,” Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer at Sony Electronics, said at the event.
When just about everyone has music on their phones and are flocking to streaming services, a gadget that just plays music seems like a tough sell. (By the way, it’s going to cost $1,200.) Even Apple isn’t selling as many iPods as it used to. As our digital editor Josh Topolsky tweeted, “Hey Sony made an iPod. Congrats Sony.”
One of the first products Samsung Electronics introduced at its CES press conference was the Portable SSD T1. It’s a flash drive that’s smaller than a business card with a lot of memory and really fast transfer speed.
“Uploading and downloading takes time away from the user experience,” said Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer at Samsung Electronics America.
Video or photo professionals might really dig this, but c’mon, a consumer flash drive? It’s all about Dropbox, Drive, Box and iCloud now.
InMotion Technologies’s R2 isn’t as expensive as the Segway and doesn’t use fancy gyroscopes, but you’ll still look like a nerd riding one. It’s a personal transport vehicle with handlebars like the Segway that moves based on how you lean. The Segway may not have revolutionized transportation the way we were promised, but the idea may never die. Don’t forget your helmet.
Vinyl has been making a comeback in the last few years, with album sales climbing 52 percent in 2014, according to market researcher Nielsen Music. Hipsters who crave that nostalgic vibe and still want to pair their music players to wireless speakers over Bluetooth can head over to Ion Audio’s booth in the east hall. The new turntable also has a USB port — and RCA inputs for you olds out there.
Polaroid instant cameras
The company that helped catalyze consumer photography thanks to its instant-film cameras has been mostly nonexistent from the iPhone era. Polaroid’s big effort at CES this year is a total throwback.
The company will try to sell Snapchat-addicted millennials on the promises of physical pictures. The Socialmatic resembles an old Polaroid instant film camera — or ask a kid, and she’ll tell you it looks like Facebook’s Instagram logo — but it has a photo printer built in. Polaroid is also selling wireless printers to quickly spit out pictures taken with a smartphone. As my colleague Belinda Lanks writes, the paper — like the old film — isn’t cheap. Zink paper costs about $30 for a pack of 100.
This would have been rad in the 1980s: A pair of Skechers with the light-up memory game Simon built in. While CES attendees didn’t seem to take it seriously as a technology product, no doubt they’re the perfect shoes for stepping back in time.