Andrea Rondeau column: All of us gadget dinosaurs are not alone

If you think the old-school gadgets of the past are long gone, think again.

In today’s ever-changing world of electronics it can feel like you can’t keep up. There always seems to be a new gadget. But if you think the old-school gadgets of the past are long gone, think again.

An email from BC Hydro that came my way this week had some fascinating statistics that prompted immediate discussion in the newsroom.

First, it said that almost three-quarters of British Columbians feel overwhelmed by the amount of electronics they accumulated over the holidays, then stated that people in B.C. have 50 per cent more electronics today than they had in 2010.

Among those devices, however, were some interesting finds. Apparently, 77 per cent of British Columbians are holding onto what BC Hydro calls their “retro” electronics. Thirty-three per cent still have a VCR. About 50 per cent have a cassette or CD player. Thirteen per cent have a Discman or Walkman and nearly 30 per cent have an old gaming console. Sixty-six per cent have a DVD player.

I confess, I’m one of those old-school electronic hoarders. I have all of a VCR, DVD player, and a stereo that has a dual cassette deck, CD player and a record player on the top. I have no plans to get rid of any of these devices.

A quick survey of a couple of people in the office showed that they, too, had at least a couple of these “retro” media players. There are a few reasons for this, I think. For one, a lot of people invested a significant amount of money in movies and music on cassettes, CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs. They don’t want to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars buying them all over again in a more digital format. Yes, many of these things can be transferred to a digital format, but again, that can take a lot of time and money. Why not just keep playing that tape on the VCR?

Secondly, not everyone is convinced of the continuing availability of the material in a strictly digital format. People want to own old favourites in a format they can see, hear and touch, that they know will not be wiped out by lagging popularity or the whim of a company in charge of a digital repository.

Here in the newsroom, on my desk, in fact, we have a separate CD/DVD drive, because new computers aren’t being made with those anymore, and we have a lot of our archives in that format.

Stats from BC Hydro also show that old cell phones are already on the same trajectory. Sixteen per cent of people who got the latest model iPhone for Christmas will still hang on to the old one.

So if you’re a bit of a dinosaur too, you’re not alone.

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