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Ten tech items you won't be needing anymore

December 17, 2011 |  8:03 am

 

 

  • 1. The Flip Cam: We will fondly remember this slim little $100 digital camcorder for its prevalence in newsrooms in the late 2000s, as print reporters morphed into "multi-platform journalists." Then came the smartphones with video capabilities and the Flip Cam became so obsolete that Cisco announced it would stop making it in April of this year. Photo: The Paul Smith-designed Flip Cam. Credit: Paul Smith
  • 2. The portable DVD player: The portable DVD player, that savior on long airplane rides, dazzled us with its long battery life and swivel screen. But if you're already traveling with a laptop or one of the increasingly ubiquitous tablets that allow you to watch downloaded movies, you're probably not going to lug this additional device in your carry on. Photo: Portable DVD player.
  • 3. Flash drives: Not so long ago, the flash drive felt like a symbol of our incredible technological progress -- dozens of hi-res photos or scores of documents stored on a little device you could hang on your key chain. But thanks to the rise of cloud computing and the ease of giant file sending, the two inch flash drive has come to seem almost clunky. Photo: Flash drive. Credit: Business Wire
  • 4. GPS devices for your car: For those of us with no sense of direction, the Garmin was a game changer. Gone was the anxiety that we missed the exit, even if that exit was still 15 miles away. The interface was simple as could be, the woman's voice only occasionally irritating as she "recalculated." Getting our directions via iPhone is a significantly worse user experience, but we've always got our iPhone on us, and it's always charged. Photo: Garmin Nuvi 660.
  • 5. The (small) digital camera: We are not heralding the demise of the digital camera. Actually, we've noticed enormous, professional grade, safari ready cameras popping up on playgrounds and at winter concerts with alarming regularity. But that point-and-shoot you bought to throw in your pocket or purse in case a too-good-to-miss photo op arose? You've got your smartphone now. Photo: A digital camera released by Toshiba in 1998. Credit: AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno
  • 6. The fax machine: The ability to send printed documents through the phone line probably felt like magic back in the day, but it made that horrible screeching noise, never really worked consistently, and it takes up tons of space. We've long considered the fax machine our arch enemy, and are delighted to see it go.  Photo: Michael Tenzer with a fax machine hooked up to a cellphone in 1988. Credit: Los Angeles Times
  • 7. Netbooks: These pint-sized computers seemed all kind of useful circa 2008-09. Smaller, cheaper and lighter than the average laptop -- they were the precursor to the tablet. But now we've got tablets and portable keyboards, so -- so long! Photo: Inspiron Mini 10v netbook by Dell. Credit: Business Wire
  • 8. CD player: For those of us who spent the 90s and early part of the 2000s amassing CD collections that we were proud to display in our dorm rooms, the death of the CD player is still a little hard to stomach. But we get it -- CDs take up more room than MP3 files, and they don't have the cache of vinyl. We might be hanging on to our CD player, but you don't have to hang onto yours. Photo: Sony's first CD player came out in 1988. Credit: Sony
  • 9. Voice recorders: First came the giant cassette recorders that resembled Walkmans from the '80s, then came the slimmer micro-cassette recorder, and then came the even more minimal digital voice recorder. Then came the smart phone with recording technology built right into it, and everything else became obsolete. Photo: A collection of voice recorders. Credit: Deborah Netburn
  • 10. PDA: We have such fond memories of our Palm Pilot. That nice U-shape, the little stylus, the weird script you had to learn in order to put information into it. It was tactile and interactive and pleasant to hold in your hand. It makes no sense today, but if you've held onto yours, we tip our hat to you. Photo: A personal digital assistant. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times
10_palm_pilot

When researching this list of obsolete technology, we discovered that most of the devices we've deemed no longer necessary are actually very useful items that served us better than the smartphone functions that have come to replace them. They helped us navigate strange cities (GPS for the car), easily take video of our children (Flip Cam), and transport large files between our home and office computers (flash drive).

So why have they become obsolete? Because they did one thing and one thing only, and a person can carry only so many devices in their coat pockets or purses, no matter how small.

And so we suggest that in the coming year you bid a fond farewell to these 10 items, on the off chance that you haven't trashed them already.

1. The Flip cam: We will fondly remember this slim little $100 digital camcorder for its prevalence in newsrooms in the late 2000s, as print reporters morphed into "multi-platform journalists." Then came the smartphones with video capabilities, and the Flip cam became so obsolete that Cisco announced it would stop making it in April of this year.

2. The portable DVD player: That savior on long airplane rides dazzled us with its long battery life and swivel screen. But if you're already traveling with a laptop or one of the increasingly ubiquitous tablets that let you watch downloaded movies, you're probably not going to lug this additional device in your carry on.

3. Flash drives: Not so long ago, the flash drive felt like a symbol of our incredible technological progress -- dozens of high-resolution photos or scores of documents stored on a little device you could hang on your key chain. But thanks to the rise of cloud computing and the ease of sending giant files, the 2-inch flash drive has come to seem almost clunky.

4. GPS devices for your car: For those of us with no sense of direction, the Garmin was a game changer. Gone was the anxiety that we missed the exit, even if that exit was still 15 miles away. The interface was simple as could be, the woman's voice only occasionally irritating as she "recalculated." Getting our directions via iPhone is a significantly worse user experience, but we've always got our iPhone on us, and it's always charged.

5. The (small) digital camera: We are not heralding the demise of the digital camera. Actually, we've noticed enormous, professional-grade, safari-ready cameras popping up on playgrounds and at winter concerts with alarming regularity. But that point-and-shoot you bought to throw in your pocket or purse in case a too-good-to-miss photo op arose? You've got your smartphone now.

6. The fax machine: The ability to send printed documents through the phone line probably felt like magic back in the day, but it made that horrible screeching noise, never really worked consistently, and it takes up tons of space. We've long considered the fax machine our arch-enemy and are delighted to see it go. 

7. Netbooks: These pint-sized computers seemed all kind of useful circa 2008-09. Smaller, cheaper and lighter than the average laptop, they were the precursor to the tablet. But now we've got tablets and portable keyboards, so -- so long!

8. CD player: For those of us who spent the '90s and early part of the 2000s amassing CD collections that we were proud to display in our dorm rooms, the death of the CD player is still a little hard to stomach. But we get it -- CDs take up more room than MP3 files, and they don't have the cachet of vinyl. We might be hanging on to our CD player, but you don't have to hang on to yours.

9. Voice recorders: First came the giant cassette recorders that resembled Walkmans from the '80s, then came the slimmer micro-cassette recorder, and then came the even more minimal digital voice recorder. Then came the smartphone with built-in recording technology, and everything else became obsolete.

10. PDA: We have such fond memories of our Palm Pilot. That nice U shape, the little stylus, the weird script you had to learn in order to put information into it. It was tactile and interactive and pleasant to hold in your hand. It makes no sense today, but if you've held on to yours, we tip our hat to you.

And of course, we're sure you'll agree with all our observations.

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-- Deborah Netburn

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