Tools don't obey the laws of fashion and planned-obsolecense. A tool remains useful until it wears out or is replaced with something that replaces a tool in all of its use-cases without adding additional practical or economic downsides. So we use manual screwdrivers for some jobs where electric screwdrivers would either break things or wouldn't fit into a tight space. Artists still use paint and pencil where these allow more efficient expression than digital photographs and photoshop. Here are some technologies I'd love to replace if a replacement were available:
- "Dumb" old cell phone. I have an indestructible Nokia "phone only" phone. I recently charged it because I like to put it in a zip-lock and take it windsurfing or kayaking-- but after nearly a year off the charger, it was still fully charged. It's water resistant, lasts for days on a battery, has good signal range and sound quality. My slightly newer QWERTY Nokia is useful when I'm writing. I've heard other writers use Psion or other old QWERTY PDAs but 2006 was a sweet spot for these "slightly smart" phones.
- Musical instruments. Forget the fact that you'd spend $3000 on an electric piano with the sound and key-action of a $500 used upright and forget that guitars and most other stringed and woodwind instruments have no digital equivalent, even older electronic instruments are difficult to find modern equivalents. I'd love to replace my late 1980s consumer level samping keyboards with a modern sampler with high sampling rate, thousands of sample storage, effects... but no such consumer device exists. So I'm stuck with something with about the same S/N ration and frequency range as a mellotron.
- Solar powered scientific calculator. You call that a smart phone? The pocket calculator's built into the iPhone and most androids is a joke. Many of these can't even count up to the US national debt-- which might explain a few things.
- Solar and wind-powered clothes dryer. I don't get the US. Land of the free and yet there are multiple levels of regulations for everything. Uzis and AK-47s seem to be legal anywhere beyond a stone's throw from a school, but try to use a clothespin to hang your clothes from a line and you're likely to get in trouble with some authority. Yeah it's old technology, but it works and is used in almost every other country. Update it with supermagnet clothespins and you could probably make it convenient. But I don't mind the inconvenience. I meet my neighbors, spend some time in the sun and save an average of about $2 per load in electricity.
- Transistor radio. Given the poor quality and high cost of US oligopoly cell phone service, you shouldn't stray far from Wifi if you want to stream music. But some of us have a life, sailing, hiking, camping... outside of Wifi's range. Yeah podcasts and downloaded music are fun but they lack the regional immediacy of radio. Compared to most bland streaming stations, clear-channel is that stoner running a pirate station from his dorm. Seriously, when they ask what the $*&# happened to good music, point to your iPod and sing, "The day the music died."