An ode to the gadgets you can't give up

Posted: March 28, 2014

ARE YOU A compulsive gadget hoarder?

Do you have items gathering dust because you've lost interest or shelved them for a newer, better version?

As this is National Cleaning Week, it's a good time to, uh, come clean and consider letting go of the old - especially if you've already replaced it with the new. I know it's not easy, which is why I'd love you to share your experience with the Daily News. (See below to learn how.)

For sure, Gizmo Guy is part of the problem, among the 68 percent of U.S. residents who qualify as gadget hoarders for "keeping a device for more than two years without using it."

Gotta take that definition and survey with a grain of salt, though. It comes from the used electronics marketplace, uSell.com.

Their findings also suggest it's time to start moving out merch if you haven't touched it in the past three months. Apparently, 70 percent of Americans have "multiple old gadgets at home" snubbed in such fashion.

Yes, decade-old computers no longer supported with software enhancements are deserving of a dump. (Come April 1, Microsoft ends security upgrades for the Windows XP OS.)

But some gizmos are seasonal in application. And Gizmo Guy would argue that other gadgets have enduring sentimental or historic value. Take please (but not away) these treasures I've dug up (and not trashed) this week. Each has a story. How about yours?

Nikkormat 35mm SLR camera: As a photo-taking youth, I coveted an all-mechanical, manually focused Nikon single lens reflex film camera. This sibling, equally sturdy and sharp shooting, was bought cheaper in Montego Bay, Jamaica, circa 1978.

Today this weighty thing is never used. You can't beat a good digital camera or sharp shootin' smartphone for portability, instant gratification and low cost of use.

Sony Walkman TPS-L2 Cassette Player and TC-55 Tapecorder: When the first cassette-based Walkman headphone stereo player was delivered to then -Daily News editor Gil Spencer, he brought it to my desk, saying, ""I don't have a clue what this is, but maybe you can write about it."

Thus began (in 1979) my career as a tech columnist, and my love affair with tiny, high performance, entertaining electronics. The similar era TC-55 was Sony's first serious, compact cassette recorder.

I used it for aeons to capture interviews - up to the last, 1993 album-touting ("Code Red") press visit of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.

When I couldn't get the TC-55 going, Will Smith said, "I know what's wrong, my dad has this same recorder." He opened up the battery compartment and, with a Four Seasons Hotel-supplied silver knife, scraped encrusted battery acid off the terminals.

Sony Betamax SL-7200: Yeah, there's a trend here. 'Twas a long spell when Sony was responsible for most innovations in consumer tech.

Launched in New York City in '76, this first "time shifting" Beta videocassette recorder was a bear to haul home and ridiculously expensive to use, with one-hour tapes priced at $16 a pop.

Betamax lost the VCR war because of hubris. Sony designers wouldn't heed RCA's demand for a two-hour minimum record capacity, so RCA backed JVC's rival VHS format.

Motorola RAZR V3 Flip Phone: In the early 2000s, it was the coolest, slimmest cellphone. Moto sold 130 million of 'em. Still a thing of industrial-design beauty. And doesn't take up much drawer space.

ColecoVision Video Game System and Samsung GXE-1395 TV: The first game system to achieve arcade-quality, cartoon-smooth and fast imagery, this spiffy, early-1980s game system came packed with Nintendo's "Donkey Kong," knocking Atari and Mattel for a loop and giving Nintendo big ambitions. Coleco's downfall was trying to adapt the game console into a full computer.

A decade later, Samsung hinted of "cutting edge" video aspirations with the GXE TV, a weighty, gamer-oriented 13-inch set with super impactful sound, pumping through stereo speakers built inside both flip-open doors, plus an over-the-top subwoofer.

It's useless with today's digital TV signals and HDMI-connected game systems. But another piece of CE history I'm unwilling (sigh) to give up.


SEND US a photo of you and that one old gadget you just can't trash, along with a brief (50-word) description of why it's your favorite. We'll publish a selection of reader responses in the Daily News, and those readers will be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate for iTunes. Send your entries to takiffj@phillynews.com. Or mail to: Gizmo Guy, Philadelphia Daily News, 801 Market St., Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Send us a photo of you and that one old gadget you just can't trash, along with a brief (50-word) description of why it's your favorite. 

We'll publish a selection of reader responses in the Daily News, and those readers will be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate for iTunes.

Send your entries to takiffj@phillynews.com. Or mail to: Gizmo Guy, Philadelphia Daily News, 801 Market St., Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Blog: philly.com/GizmoGuy

Online: ph.ly/Tech

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