There are plenty of outdated gadgets and technologies that are already obsolete. Many of them have been around for decades, like landline phones, video game consoles, remote controls, and point-and-shoot cameras. But there are plenty of products that have been introduced or popularized in the past five years that are already obsolete, too. Read on to check out eight tech products that have been popular in the past years, but are already obsolete.
1. Android tablets
The Android operating system has never done a particularly good job of supporting the things you want in a tablet, like multitasking support or a robust ecosystem of tablet-optimized apps. So it makes sense that Android Central’s Jerry Hildenbrand thinks Google’s decision to support the Google Play Store on Chromebooks could make Android tablets obsolete. Adding support for Android apps means that you can access more than a million titles on a Chromebook, which is a much more versatile piece of hardware than a tablet, with a big screen, a physical keyboard, and in most cases an impressive battery. Running Android apps on a Chromebook will often provide a better experience than running those apps on a tablet, and you’ll be able to mix and match Android and Chrome apps to customize the experience far more than you’d be able to on a (now obsolete) Android tablet.
Based on how much time you spend with your smartphone on a daily basis, it may be difficult to imagine a future in which smartphones are obsolete and we’ve all moved on to some other indispensable gadget. But that’s exactly what many consumers envision, according to an Ericsson survey of 100,000 people in 40 countries. According to a CNBC survey in late 2015, one in two smartphone users who responded to the survey think that smartphones will be a thing of the past in as few as five years, and will be replaced by artificial intelligence that will “enable interaction with objects without the need for a smartphone screen.” From wearable devices to household appliances, AI could take over many common activities, and enable users to talk to an assistant to receive information and complete tasks.
3. Set-top boxes
Evan Dashevsky reports for PC Mag that set-top boxes — whether the Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV — are all “makeshift solutions used to upgrade dumb TVs into smart sets.” They’ll become less necessary as consumers replace their existing televisions with increasingly-affordable smart TVs, a process that’s slow because consumers can go for years without replacing their televisions. The cost of smart TVs is falling and the number of smart TV households in the U.S. is rising. So while set-top boxes are a convenient solution if you don’t want to spend the money to upgrade your TV just yet, your Chromecast or Apple TV is going to be obsolete the next time you purchase a new television.
4. Google Glass-style smart glasses
The first iteration of Google Glass wasn’t exactly a success due to some flaws in Google’s execution and communication about the project, but smart glasses in general may already be obsolete. As Philip Bates reports for MakeUseOf, smart contact lenses, like the one Google has been working on since 2014, could make smart glasses “old news.” Such a contact lens could display information, and could even assist in the management of chronic conditions like diabetes. If you can get all of that functionality without wearing an obtrusive pair of smart glasses, why wouldn’t you opt for the contact lens?
5. 3D glasses (and 3D TVs)
Avram Piltch reports for Laptop Mag that consumers have put up with 3D glasses ever since the first 3D films made it to theaters in the 1950s. But it wasn’t until recently that you could buy a television for your home that could play 3D content — and came with 3D glasses that you’d need to wear to do so. Glasses-free solutions are already becoming available on computers and smartphones, and in the near future, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need 3D glasses to watch a 3D movie on your home TV. And that’s if you even think that 3D TV is going to remain a “thing,” since plenty of people, including CNET’s David Katzmeier, think that 3D TV is “doomed.”
6. 4K TVs
We’ve already voiced our opinions about why would-be 4K TV buyers should hold off for a few more years, and you may or may not be convinced. But what if we told you that chances are good that the 4K TV you buy today may be obsolete within the next few years? As Chris Boylan reports for Big Picture Big Sound, the standards for things like HDR — the high dynamic range technology to which The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen attributes the major differences in picture quality between a 4K TV and an HD TV — aren’t yet set. Boylan explains that “there is no universal standard yet for how to master content for an HDR version of a film nor how to deliver it to a display. If you master HDR content for a set with a particular profile or max brightness level, that content will look significantly different on another set with a different HDR profile.” David Katzmaier reports for CNET that HDR is “TV’s next big format war,” with HDR10 and Dolby Vision competing for dominance, and there are plenty of 4K TVs that are going to be on the losing side when the dust settles.
7. Curved TVs
You may be sensing a theme, but we promise that we’re not just picking on the TV industry. You’ve probably seen a curved TV at your local electronics retailer or a warehouse store, and wondered whether this is the future of televisions. We can assure you that it’s not. CNET’s David Katzmaier reports that the curve is largely cosmetic, and doesn’t significantly improve the viewing experience. If you want a more immersive television-viewing experience, you’re probably better off upgrading to a bigger TV rather than purchasing a curved one, since the curve doesn’t improve immersion and can even create subtle geometric distortions.
8. Blu-ray and DVD players
Despite Blu-ray players coming into vogue only recently, both Blu-ray players and DVD players are already obsolete. There are already better options for users who want the highest streaming quality, and there are also streaming options for those who want the best when it comes to convenience. Watching a Blu-ray still gives you better quality than streaming a movie via Netflix or another service, especially if you don’t have fast internet service. But if you’re like the average consumer, who’s more concerned about being able to watch the content you want whenever you want, the Blu-ray or DVD player sitting in your living room is already obsolete.