10 Once-Popular Gadgets No One Wants to Buy Anymore
The consumer electronics world moves quickly. It seems like just yesterday that all we wanted in a cellphone was a cool flip phone, a good selection of ringtones, and the ability to store 100 or so of our favorite songs — all hallmarks of some of our favorite cellphones from the early 2000s. But now, we’re all learning how to shoot iPhone photos that are high-quality enough to end up on a billboard and looking forward to the prospect of Google’s (canceled) modular smartphones. Clearly, things change quickly.
That’s a good thing for the companies that can keep innovating and continue developing more advanced gadgets. But it’s not so great for the companies behind the gadgets that we’ve all left behind, and there are certainly a lot of those. Ahead, check out some of the gadgets that nobody wants to buy anymore. Some you may have forgotten about, and others may still be collecting dust in your junk drawer or on a forgotten shelf in your basement.
1. Smartphones without 4G
If you’ve ever searched for cheap smartphones (hint: the best ones are right here), you’ve probably realized that there are plenty of phones still on the market that don’t support 4G. But if you think it’s worth skipping 4G to get a super-cheap phone, you’re mistaken. The mobile internet is already slow and annoying to use thanks to the intrusion of ads onto just about every website you want to browse. You don’t need to make it any worse on yourself by intentionally choosing a phone that doesn’t support the fastest connection speeds. If you like to browse the internet, stream video, or upload photos, 3G is going to feel too slow.
2. Mobile hotspots
There was a time when purchasing a mobile hotspot made sense, and enabled you to use all of your gadgets, not just your smartphone, when you were on the road. But most of today’s smartphones offer a mobile hotspot mode without the help of another device you need to purchase and then keep track of. Purchasing a mobile hotspot and adding it to your plan with one of the major carriers will just mean that you’ll be paying extra fees every month. They may be worth it if you need to use the functionality frequently and consistently. But the average user can get by using their phone as a mobile hotspot.
3. MP3 players
If you’re going to be carrying your phone with you everywhere — and, let’s face it, just about everyone does — then there’s no reason to purchase an MP3 player, too. There was a time when they made sense. These little devices enabled you to carry thousands of your favorite songs with you, something that your cellphone probably wasn’t able to do. But ever since smartphones and their bigger storage capacity came along, MP3 players have been largely unnecessary. And if you’ve made the switch from an MP3 library to a streaming service, as many music fans have, then you really, really don’t need an MP3 player. Aside from a few consumers who buy them for their kids or hold onto them to wear while working out, these little gadgets are largely obsolete. (Don’t even get us started on the companies that are still trying to sell you a portable CD player.)
4. GPS units
Another device that’s largely been replaced by the smartphone is the GPS unit. Though we love to complain about the annoying interfaces or roundabout directions offered by our navigation app of choice, those apps have gotten remarkably reliable. Whether you’re driving around an unfamiliar city, road-tripping across the country, or checking a public transit route in your own city, your smartphone is more than capable of helping you find your way. If you’re going to buy a gadget to put in your car, you’re probably better off buying a car charger and perhaps a stand for your smartphone. That way, you’ll be able to use your phone’s navigation app without worrying about the device falling onto the floor or slipping into a cupholder.
5. USB flash drives
In college, you probably had several USB flash drives. They were great for making sure that you always had your notes with you, or for carrying around the final draft of that important project or senior thesis. But cloud storage services have made this little gadget — which will still show up at Black Friday sales — pretty obsolete. After all, you can log into Dropbox or Google Drive from any of your devices, and you can even save important documents offline in case you need them when you’re away from Wi-Fi (or a mobile hotspot). That could be the reason why you never see people with flash drives anymore. That and the fact that they’re way too easy to lose or to put through the washer and dryer.
6. BlackBerry phones
BlackBerry still has its devotees, many of whom just don’t want to be without a physical keyboard on their smartphones. But for the most part, the mobile phone world has moved on, and the most compelling options for a new smartphone are Android phones and iPhones, not BlackBerrys. Sure, BlackBerry still sells phones if you’re a diehard fan and just can’t see yourself picking a phone from any other manufacturer. But as the company’s slice of the smartphone market pie grows ever slimmer, it’s likely just a matter of time until BlackBerry makes an exit from the smartphone business altogether.
7. Digital point-and-shoot cameras
The DSLR, the mirrorless system, and various other high-performing types of digital cameras are all still very useful tools for photographers, amateur and professional alike. But nobody wants to buy a digital point-and-shoot camera anymore. That’s because they’re an unnecessary expense in a world where your smartphone is equipped with a camera that can take high-quality photos and even shoot 4K video. The only reason to buy a camera that’s separate from your smartphone is to get serious about photography, and you certainly won’t be doing that with one of the cheap point-and-shoots from your local Walmart or Best Buy.
8. 720p televisions
In a world where many people are asking themselves whether they should be buying a 4K television, there’s no reason to go with a 720p television instead of a 1080p set. More pixels means a sharper picture, so with the negligible price difference between 720p and 1080p, why would you opt for the lower resolution? We’re all for being skeptical about whether you really need the biggest, brightest, latest, or greatest technology, and thinking twice about whether the upgrade is actually worth the money. But trust us, if you’re buying a new TV, a 1080p television set is absolutely the minimal price increase over a 720p model.
9. DVD and Blu-ray players
Sure, plenty of people still use the DVD or Blu-ray players that we’ve already got in our homes. But who looks forward to replacing a worn-out DVD player or upgrading to the latest Blu-ray player? Nobody that we know. Frequent trips to the local DVD rental store or Redbox likely haven’t been part of your weekend routine for years. And while plenty of people still use Netflix’s DVD service, you probably aren’t one of them. If you’ve upgraded to a smart TV or you’ve installed a set-top box, you probably won’t need to replace your DVD player or Blu-ray player when it finally gives up the ghost. These players are pretty obsolete (though Blu-ray still has an edge on streamed HD content), and unless you’re working with a super-slow internet connection or are perfecting your ultra high-resolution setup, you probably don’t need to buy a new one anytime soon.
10. Landline phones
You may think fondly of landline phones thanks to childhood memories of calling up all your friends or having an awkward conversation with your crush, but landline phones are largely a thing of the past. Plenty of people don’t even have a landline connected in their home anymore. And most people, particularly the ones you talk to all day on iMessage or Snapchat, aren’t used to answering their home phone even if it is still connected. In most urban and suburban areas, mobile networks are reliable enough that it’s difficult to make the argument that you need a landline in case of emergency — especially since when the power goes out, you can still use your smartphone as long as you’ve got some charge or a power bank.