Back to the future

Back to the future

A typewriter that replaces your keyboard, a vinyl record woodsy turntable that trills out MP3s, an MP3 player that looks like an army communications field phone, and a Moleskine leather notepad for the Kindle… It’s yesterday once more as nostalgia gnaws and the world goes gaga over retro. But it is retro reborn and replenished—indelible iconography and classic imagery interjected with state-of-the-art technology. Be it a whiff of the 1960s, a sniff of the 1970s, anything evocative of the analog 1980s, or nuances of the 1990s, the idea is to fuse it with contemporary, leading- edge digital tech and produce something uber cool for that near-shock-cum-fun raised eyebrow instead.

• Photo display

Once upon a time you had only 36 exposures in a camera roll to capture the memories of your entire vacation. Today, you are limited more by the trigger-happiness of your clicking finger rather than the cut-off imposed by the capacious memory card in your digital camera. To display this seemingly unending series of images, undoubtedly the best solution is an electronic photo display frame. Now rather than procuring a cheap, plastic-looking e-photo changer, you can get something such as the classier looking FrameWizard. A perfect marriage between a digital interior and an analog exterior, the 4:3 ratio LCD screen FrameWizard allows you to store up to 2 GB of photos in an actual picture frame. Available in 7-, 8- and 15-inch sizes and various resolutions, the frame comes with special effects software, remote control, USB cable, power adapter and costs between $200 (Rs8,920) and $300.

• Clickety-clack

While you still encounter the clickety-clack of typewriters around ‘tehsil’ offices and other magisterial outposts of the Indian ‘kachehri’, by and large these noisy, old Qwerty goats have been consigned to history. Now if the slickness of a swanky laptop bothers you and you’re nostalgic about the mechanical hammering of typewriter era, here’s where you can exhume the relic in a new and improved archetype. As the moniker suggests, USB Typewriter conjoins a clanky Remington-style typewriter keyboard to your PC. For $75, a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit can convert a typewriter into a USB-ready keyboard by installing sensors under each key and hooking it up to your computer—or even iPad. Yes, the raspy return carriage literally works as the Return key, while a special toggle adds F1-F12, Esc, Ctrl, Alt, etc., keys. Don’t have a typewriter gathering dust or want to dirty your hands with a DIY? Buy the whole caboodle by shelling out $649.

• All rolled in one

Overtly reminiscent of an army commando’s clunky field communications hand unit, the USB Retro Mobile Phone MP3 Player may look like an antediluvian piece of equipment, but in fact it is an MP3 player, FM radio-cum-portable stereo speaker. While it can handle only MP3 and WMA (Windows media audio) music formats directly through the microSD card slot and USB port, it can playback any iPod, MP3/MP4, DVD player, laptop, PC, PDA, PSP or mobile phone via its 3.5mm stereo audio connector. A built-in, rechargeable lithium ion battery gives you about 5 hours of sonic performance on the trot. And yes, this gadget is eminently portable since it weighs only about as much as a heavy-ish cellphone at 147g. The USB Retro Mobile Phone MP3 Player sports a price tag of $20.

• Moleskine for the Kindle

E-bookworms who wistfully yearn (albeit, occasionally) for the touch of papyrus, hark this. Yon Moleskine for the Amazon Kindle e-book reader comes to you as an avatar of the legendary notebook—replete with leather exterior hardcover jacket and plush suede lining to protect the electronic device. Everything from the traditionally rounded corners, to the elastic band that holds the covers together, to the two reporter-style, blank ivory paper writing pads on the inside left are evocative of the all-time classic notebook. Your e-book reader is tucked in place on the inside right flap by means of four double-stitched corner elastic bands. Ample access to ports and buttons is available. The Moleskine comes in black, brown or red and is priced at $40 on Amazon.

• Multiple uses

Eton Solarlink FR600 Emergency Crank Radio, a device extraordinaire, is an exemplary model of digital-analog synergy. It may look like a superannuated, venerable old transistor radio with a funny handle, but it is actually a self-powered (hand-cranked) digital AM/FM/SW/tuner radio with an in-built flashlight as well as a solar power generator. The device features a cellphone charger output jack (for several handset models) and believe it or not, a double white LED flashlight, plus a flashing red LED and a built-in siren for emergencies. If you’re appalled by the thought of hand-cranking the radio, etc., to get it working, perish the thought. It comes with three power options other than the hand-crank generator: You can plop in AA batteries, or use a NiMH battery pack, or plug in the AC adapter into a wall socket. The Solarlink is priced at $60.

•Turntable revived

Have a prize collection of vinyl records stashed somewhere at home that help you play back moth-balled memories—but not the music? Get your nostalgia fix by acquiring this primordial looking knobby thing called the Crosley Radio Troubador Turntable and playing all your (33 L, 45 and 78 RPM) shiny platters again. The device may appear to be from the days of old when vinyl was bold and CDs/DVDs, MP3s, etc., not invented, but this Crosley tackles ’em all. You can also plug in a USB drive or plonk in an SD card. There’s even a built-in cassette deck on one side of the wood-encased contraption for those archaic spool spinners of yore. Then, the Crosley turntable also features an AM/FM radio with an analog tuner and a PAR (portable audio ready) hook-up for MP3 players. The cost for this modern fossil is $150.

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