Super 8 cameras, BlackBerrys among retro gadgets made modern

  • TECH
  • Monday, 22 Jan 2018

A man walks by a photo of a Kodak Super 8 hybrid movie camera outside the Kodak booth at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW

Even as we flirt with Jetsons-style bathrooms hooked up to digital assistants and breakneck races of flying “cars,” one thing remains clear: Despite ever-improving technology, our nostalgia-tuned minds remain glued to the rear-view mirror. 

Last week at CES, Kodak made that abundantly clear when it revealed footage from its hotly-anticipated reboot of the Super 8 camera, which revolutionised amateur filmmaking when originally released in 1965. 

It’s part of a movement that Kodak describes on its website as an “analogue renaissance.” The film-format camera – Kodak’s first since 1982 – will cost from US$2,500 (RM9,842) to US$3,000 (RM11,810), have a 3.5in LCD screen, variable speed control, and C-mount lens support. If you’re wondering where the heck you’re going to get the film developed, Kodak has you covered: An online platform will let you purchase film, processing, and shipping. You’ll mail the goods to Kodak, which will process the film and scan it digitally before sending the files to your Darkroom account. 

“Just as vinyl is making a comeback in music, film is being embraced by more and more amateur and professional filmmakers,” Brian Cruz, Eastman Kodak Co’s vice-president and general manager of consumer products, told Bloomberg. “There are many digital solutions out there. We aspire to balance the best of both worlds: the ease of capture and editing afforded by digital, with the luxurious colour and texture offered by real film.” 

Kodak isn’t alone in its throwback pursuit. Maybe it’s all the Stranger Things-inspired ’80s nostalgia floating around, but now more than ever, consumers seem to be looking toward retro tech. One national movie theatre chain is even renting VHS videos. Who knows, maybe smartphone-assisted 18th century chandeliers are just around the corner. 

Here are seven additional retro gadgets that are coming back, stronger than ever. 

Ultra Game Boy
We hope you saved all your old Game Boy cartridges. Gaming outfit plans to unveil its revamped version of the classic hand-held system late this summer with a price point under US$100 (RM393). Housed in aluminium, the scratch-resistant Ultra Game Boy will have a backlit LCD display with full RGB spectrum capability, a pair of stereo speakers, left and right audio-out connections, and a USB-C charging port. No need to bother with AA batteries that always seem to die when you’re finally about to crush a crucial game level: This baby has a built-in six-hour battery. 

Polaroid OneStep 2
On the occasion of its 80th birthday in September, Polaroid Corp unveiled the OneStep 2, a new, US$99 (RM389) “instant analogue camera” that shoots re-engineered classic Type-600 and i-Type film. It’s part of a rolling effort started by the Impossible Project – now called Polaroid Originals – to bring back instant photos in all their offline glory. Just don’t “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” because that won’t help at all. 

Nokia 3310
Last year, Finnish company HMD Global Oy brought us back to the early days of the new millennium with the re-release of the Nokia 3310, a lower-cost phone that first hit shelves back in September of 2000. The €49 (RM236) throwback comes in four colours – and yes, you can play Snake

BlackBerry KeyOne
Not to be left behind (again), BlackBerry Ltd finally decided to grant Kim Kardashian her dream of the phone’s comeback with the launch of its KeyOne phone in April 2017. BlackBerry has since been tinkering with the wrapping: In August, the company announced a “Black Edition” and last month unveiled a bronze coloured model to be made available in overseas markets. The phones, which cost more than US$550 (RM2,165), all have 4 gigabytes of memory and 64GB of internal storage, plus that signature keyboard Kardashian is so fond of. 

NES and SNES Classic Editions
First there was the NES Classic Console, a re-imagining of the hit gaming platform, which launched in 2016 to great fanfare. Loaded with 30 classic games (among them Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong Jr), the console has the look and feel as the original with one key difference: It’s been shrunk to miniature size for your gaming convenience. Then, in September of last year, another hit – a mini, revamped version of the SNES preloaded with 21 games. The US$80 (RM314) consoles are so popular, they sell out everywhere almost immediately, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Luciano Speaker
There may be few living people nostalgic for the phonograph, but that didn’t stop the innovators at New Black from inventing a ceramic Bluetooth speaker inspired by one. Constructed in the Italian town of Nove, famous for a ceramic industry dating to the 1700s, the Luciano speaker includes components normally found in hi-fi stereo systems. They’re not cheap, with most models going for €590 (RM2,845). And if money is no object, you can always splurge on the 24 carat, gold-plated version for €1,390 (RM6,703). 

Lofree Four Seasons Retro Mechanical Keyboard
Love the clack-clack-clack of a classic typewriter? Keyboard maker Lofree wants you to enjoy that sound with its Four Seasons Retro Mechanical Keyboard without sacrificing Mac compatibility. At US$74 (RM291), these are cheaper (and more reality-based) than a time machine. Still in the final stage of development, the product is estimated to commence shipping in April. — Bloomberg

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