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10 gadgets that will be trash tomorrow

Some of today's hot items will be outdated or obsolete in a few years.

Posted by Karen Datko Tuesday, November 09, 2010 12:10:51 PM

This guest post comes from Josh Smith at


Bargain hunters should champion the early adopters, who buy new gadgets at top price as soon as they are available and lower the prices for the rest of us who wait awhile.


While we may pant over your iPad, we will lord it over you when we pick up one of your refurbs for a steal or get a next-generation model that's monumentally better, and pay less than you did for your new one.

But there are some gifts on display this holiday season that will make losers of all of us. They are hot now, but technology cycles are so fast that these gadgets and gizmos are destined to be doorbusters today, and doorstoppers tomorrow.


We have traveled with the Ghost of Christmas Future to find out which of this season's big sellers are in for a final hurrah. Most of these gifts won't even be good as cast-offs in the next two or three years as they become incompatible with emerging technologies.

  1. GPS units. The pathway to success of GPS is ... recalculating. For the past three or four years, GPS units have graced the front page of many a Black Friday catalog as a top draw, but as navigation services become more standard in our cars and on our smart phones -- arguably providing a richer experience -- don't be surprised if the stand-alone GPS unit ends up lost, screaming "Make a U-turn when able!" for all eternity.
  2. The e-reader. The new Color Nook notwithstanding, the e-reader is an early adapter stand-alone gadget that's going to be swept away by major changes in tablet computing in the next few years. Even those that have the ability to play music and games and browse the Web are not going to seem robust enough to compete. If you love eInk monochrome displays, don't fret! What's coming next should involve Pixel Qi screens that can toggle between full color and outdoor readable eInk displays, which means you'll get your color screens and your apps as well as the long battery life of monochrome displays.
  3. Blu-ray. You should be able to score huge Blu-ray deals this year, maybe even as low as $49, but that's going to get you about as exciting a prospect as buying a new VCR. It's all about streaming now, and Internet-connected HDTVs are becoming the norm. Beyond that, it's all about multitaskers -- boxes that can play video games in addition to any kind of disk and connect to any streaming service, until those items get integrated and they go out of business as well (see No. 4).
  4. Google TV, Apple TV, Roku and Boxee. Stand-alone devices that connect your HDTV to the Internet are incredibly popular this year, with new entrants from almost every big player. The best news about them is that they are so tiny you won't have a hard time disposing of them on recycling day. In the not-so-distant future these services will be built right into HDTVs (some models already sport Google TV), which means when you go looking for a new TV you'll have to pay attention to the operating system just like when you look for a computer. The only exception is Apple TV, which won't likely be installed in an HDTV that quickly, because of Apple's preference to build its own hardware for an end-to-end user experience. Instead you'll see Apple and other manufacturers hop on board Wi-Fi Direct, which will allow you to beam content directly to a TV with Wi-Fi.
  5. Netbooks. The netbook hasn't yet been killed off by the iPad, but it faces tough times in the next three years. Not only will tablets of any kind push the low-powered portable netbook to the trash heap, but ultra-portable computers with better specs and similar sizes will be stepping in to provide more horsepower without doubling the cost. With better options coming from both sides, it's hard to see the netbook finding many friends.
  6. Video games on a disk. Be prepared for a flashing "Game Over" to come to the land of video game disks and the used-game market in the next few years. Manufacturers have been pushing digital downloads for a while now. Want even more proof? Check out OnLive, which doesn't even require a powerful console or computer to play the latest games.
  7. HD pocket camcorders. Goodbye Flip, Kodak Zi8, Sony Bloggie and any other "pocket HD video camera" that take good video but poor still pictures. Soon we'll have cameras that can do both at once as a standard feature, at the same price. And that's only for those who haven't given up still cameras and video cameras altogether for the built-in features of their smart phones.
  8. LCD HDTVs with CCFL. Tube televisions have disappeared faster than a plate of cookies around a mall Santa, and next to go is what people commonly refer to now as LCDs, which have CCFL as the back light source. What's coming in its place? LED is the new standard, which provides a better picture over CCFL, DLP or plasma, and with it you also get a much slimmer HDTV without the need to give up on the actual size of your screen. Right now you'll still pay a premium of a few hundred dollars for an LED unit, but that price is bound to come down over the holiday shopping season.
  9. Desktop computers. You thought these were already obsolete? It's astounding to many techies that these are still on wish lists for 2010 -- and more astounding that discount retailers will use low-priced desktop models to lure in customers on days like Black Friday. But it's absolutely inconceivable that any home user will still be tethered to a desktop in 2013. Home users will graduate to tablets or to laptops, and consumer desktops will become harder and harder to find. On the other hand, expect to see an upswing in user demand for large monitors, keyboards and mouses over the next few years as they try to replicate the desktop experience.
  10. USB thumb drives. Once the go-to stocking stuffer for anyone who used a computer, these portable drives replaced CDs and disks as the easiest way to transfer files. We expect that in a few years plugging a thumb drive in to transfer a file, instead of using a cloud storage service like Dropbox, will feel as antiquated as using a floppy disk does today. The early tablets like the iPad don't even have a USB port anyway.

More from and MSN Money:

Tags: consumer guideelectronicsentertainmentgift givingholidaysavingsshopping
11/09/2010 7:47 PM
Some of these options require me to TRUST someone else with my information, or access to my habits: having my TV connected to the internet, using a third party to store my computer information rather than a thumb drive, etc. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP MY IDENTITY AND MY PRIVACY AS THIS ARTICLE SUGGESTS. I will, instead, not go quietly into the future and be called a dinosaur, or whatever the term is these days. Sorry, I do not have my TV hooked up to the internet so someone can trace my viewing habits, (although they are rather boring, nothing the slightest bit ****, or anything like that...) I prefer to tape the programs to view when I want, and watch on TiVo, or a DVD, which I will also never give up willingly. Maybe my grandson will do all this, but NOT me! I strongly suggest that to give up those items that still give us some privacy and replace them with things that can be monitored by someone else is, forgive me, STUPID!! Take back your life from those that want to control you , or at least know everything that you do, by way of "convenience" and other similar words or phrases. I do feel sorry for those growing up in this time of electronic modernization: they will never know how it is to be truly free, without someone watching them, whether it is for the purpose of getting information regarding spending habits to target shopping, or whatever, WE ARE BEING WATCHED!
11/11/2010 11:54 AM

Most of these I can somewhat agree with, however 6 and 9 are debatable.


Taking first number 6, (video games on disc) with more and more internet companies capping you bandwidth and already lots of people reaching those caps just with their movie/TV watching, they will be hard pressed to add another 4-20 GB of downloads to add their video games to the list. Also the disc space of the many consoles out are no larger than 250 GB (which is a collection of 40-50 games with saves, not including any movies that might be downloaded, photos, etc so more like 20 games). On the PC that is a different story as people already rip all their games to ISOs and mount them as virtual drives.


Now for the desktop computer, there are three segments that will keep desktop computers alive, the gamers, the businesses and the enthusiast. I have yet to see a top of the line laptop outperform a top of the line desktop due to heat issues and the real-estate needed for the extreme graphics and processing power that the cutting edge games require.


Next companies still use desktops mainly because they are NOT portable (and so employees do not lose them(or get them stolen)). However this might change if more and more people are allowed to work from home using their own computers, but there still is something to be said about coming into work.


Finally the enthusiasts. They are the ones who build their own computers buying each piece to make a perfect collection perfectly tuned to their desires. They want what no standard company will make as of today within the price range of building it yourself. They also upgrade their machines but buying the pieces and replacing them which difficult to do on a laptop, tablet, etc.

2/01/2011 10:23 PM
You must be dreaming or lost in your own techie world.  #9:  I will never give up my desktop PC for a tablet toy.  I started with a Commodore64, probably before you were born, and built many a desktop since.  People have been 'docking' laptops to desktop monitors and keyboards since day one.  You should trash your own 10 gadgets trash list and float back to your cloud.  Take your cloud computing friends with you.     
2/01/2011 8:16 PM
Realy? Number 9? By 2013? Did you smoke crack before writing this? I also don't agree with number 2. Just compare the prices of tablet computers and the e-readers. If i want something just to read pdf, I definetly am not going to pay more for that. So, yeah, you are an apple shareholder, but their products are not all that jazz...
2/01/2011 7:54 PM

So it's that time again I see - what will reportedly be extinct in a few years?


Well, let's first take the macro approach to the question: 25 years ago when the personal computer (non-internet attached mind you) first started taking over typewriters as word processors, we were told in a decade or so all offices would be paperless.  Yeah, and we still buy paper shredders for both the home and office environment. Go figure.


Okay, fast forward to today and the current items listed by MSN that I vehemently disagree with, and why:


Item #1: GPS units aren't going anywhere. Many people want a dedicated tool for a dedicated purpose (read: Men). The days of yacking on your cell phone while taking a picture while trying to find your destination all at the same time just don't seem to be close anytime soon. This is exclusive of course of the fact that GPS is still heavily used by boaters, aviators, hikers, and other various outdoor adventurers that would find a cell phone GPS useless. Garmin for example sells many variants of GPS units as listed above.


Item #3: While streaming is great, there are still those (like me) who want a physical hard copy of what they've purchased. Besides, what happens if you lose your streaming internet connection during the middle of a movie night with your significant other? Wouldn't that just suck? Anyone who has cable or who has used satellite during thunderstorms knows what I'm talking about. This is all exclusive of the fact of course of bandwidth caps and limitations.


Item #6: See the first sentence of the response above. Many of us like to reformat and reload our PC operating system - kind of like getting oil changed in a car - and then reload all our software. And again, many of us like a physical library of what we've purchased.


Item #9: This is probably the biggest falsehood of all. The most powerful laptop to date is only about as powerful as the most powerful desktop PC that could have been built 3 years ago. Now pay close attention to the comment BUILT and not bought from the likes of Dell and HP. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and AMD's graphics division know that there is and will always be a huge market for the home PC builder and enthusiast. Motherboard, memory, and hard drive manufacturers know this fact as well. I spent $1900 building an overclocked 4.7GHz quad core Intel i7 system with more hard drives and memory and triple graphics (GPU) cards that would make the fastest XPS laptop from Dell costing twice as much run screaming for mama.

Sure, John Q. Average PC user who doesn't know Sandy Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge will be just happy with a Dell Dimension laptop and docking station. But that just won't jive with we PC gamers and enthusiasts who want to run Crysis 2 at 50fps on three monitors and who want to burn two hours of HD video from Disney World and not spend half a day doing it - with a $1000 laptop.


Item #10:  There will always, always be a need for physical backup data and property. Period end of discussion.
2/01/2011 5:00 PM

here we gomore junk tec if its non repairable its junk tec desltopsare green  and not everyone has the means to buty all this new crap this trow away tec is for idiots , they want to save the planet but all there junk is non upgradable or non servicable thats why we have high unemployment no more repairmen just toss it and buy new what a bunch of losers in five years if you shut down all the high tec junk the youth of this country will be lost

 exept for the few who grew up away from the megacities JUDGEMENT DAY ISAT HAND>AND YOUR HIGH TEC TOYS WONT HELP YOU ZEEG HILE


12/10/2010 2:30 PM
#9 is flat out wrong. The author obviously does not know the differences between a desktop and a notebook.
12/10/2010 12:13 PM
Disk games aren't in danger of disappearing until the question of digital rights management is solved. I can take my copy of Halo to a friends house, but its a pain in the butt to lug my whole xbox over.

Also I doubt thumbdrives are going anywhere because dropbox and cloud services require internet. It takes a lot less effort to pop a thumb drive in than to go to dropbox, log in, upload, go to the other computer, log in, download.... the guy with the thumbdrive has already printed his homework and is getting a coffee dammit.
12/10/2010 9:40 AM

While I agree with alot of this it also requires the consumer to spend more and throw out there old equipment. One scenerio is the new Roku boxes and Apple TVs, for under 100 bucks you have a tiny unit that makes you none internet TV a internet TV. Why would you go out and buy a new internet TV when you have a perfectly good one at home and now has internet access? Plus the way our society works in 4-5 years when your ready to buy a new tv tossing the apple tv or roku in the recycling won't feel so bad, 4-5 years of use on a electroinic that costs less than 100 dollars is getting your moneys worth.

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