In the world of consumer technology, ‘retro’ tends to just mean ‘brown casing’, but there are plenty of old products that could and should be given a 21st-century makeover. Here’s our first five suggestions, with the rest following on tomorrow.
1. Apple Newton
We’re all getting carried away with iPhone excitement at the moment, but what about poor forgotten PDAs? Of course, Apple got in early with its Newton device. If we’re being sticklers for accuracy, its actual name was MessagePad, and it was as much a proto-tablet PC as a PDA.
Even so, imagine the splash Apple would make if it reintroduced an all-new Newton now – presumably as a full tablet PC rather than a PDA, since the iPhone is more than capable of handling the latter category’s features.
2. Commodore 64
Okay, so your views on which 8-bit games machine should be revived will depend on what you owned a couple of decades ago. Sorry Spectrum and Amstrad fans, the C64 is the recipient of my rose-tinted nostalgia. And besides, it was way better at the time anyway.
Happily, the C64 is being revived, in a number of guises. You can buy plug-in TV games in an old-skool joystick, while mobile games firm Kiloo has signed a deal to bring a bunch of retro C64 games to your phone.
Oh c’mon, this was the first ever clamshell mobile phone – wouldn’t it be cool if Motorola decided to release a 2007-edition. Well, it’d make a change from another slightly-changed RAZR anyway.
Alright, so they have knocked up this, but it isn’t the real StarTAC is it? And you can only get it in Korea. We’d like to see the full monty StarTAC, with added retro kudos if Motorola resist the temptation to include modern fripperies like games, video, and picture messaging. Not that anyone would realise picture messaging was missing.
You can probably still buy this drawing gadget for kids, obviously. But imagine how much fun could be provided by a ninja’d up version using, say, electronic ink like Polymer Vision’s Readius gadget.
You could put Wi-Fi in too, so kids could upload their scribblings to some kind of global community thingy, and download other people’s to colour in. And it could work as a webcam too. Or something. I admit, this one needs more thinking through.
Sony only sent its robo-pooch to the Great Dog Kennel In The Sky in January 2006, but I’m already missing him. Having seen the plethora of cool robots on show at the CES show this year, it’s hard not to wonder if Sony gave up on consumer robotics just as it got interesting.
Yes, AIBO was pricey, and a niche product for gadgeteers – whatever Sony said about the bot being a hit with apartment-dwelling Japanese pensioners. But as a showcase for more strokable cyborgs, the little fella ruled. Bring him back Sony, please! He could be billed as Asimo’s best friend…
Nos 6 to 10 are now online too. Click here to read them.