Some products featured at CES - the mammoth annual consumer electronics show that occurred earlier this month -- can produce audio that rivals original master recordings and capture video that rivals the resolution of cinema titles. That's all well and good for you people with your heads trapped in the 21st Century, man. But a number of new products are resurrecting technology from the past, sometimes with a modern twist. For those who remember the way things once were or simply want to explore alternatives, these devices seek to capture attention like the glint of a disco ball.
Happy days are here again for the forthcoming Kodak Super 8 camera, an analog throwback with a modern design twist. It takes the same film cartridges that debuted in the mid-1960s and inspired the name of the 2011 film directed by that guy who went on to direct some space movie reviving a '70s franchise.
The new Super 8 camera differs from its inspiration in several ways. While its boxy design looks nothing like a modern camcorder, it's been updated in striking Kodak yellow and includes a port for a mike (but not Carol Brady's husband). In addition, the new Super 8 has an SD card slot, but that's specifically for recording audio, which could be tricky on some of the 1970s-era cameras that supported sound.
Considering the once global network of film processing outlets has been lost to history, Kodak will process the film itself via mail. It's odd that the company, which has licensed its brand to companies making everything from consumer cameras to headphones -- and soon clothing -- is looking to get back into making consumer devices. However, the new Super 8 is expected to sell for less than $1,000 this fall.
If a film-based video camera doesn't do enough to bring in the boomers, how about accompanying that journey with some vinyl? Indeed, turntables have been a part of many store inventories for some time. Outside of DJ equipment, brands such as Crosley and Electrohome have produced many throwback record players, many of which have USB ports and SD cards to digitize records like the kind Fonzie made spring forth from a broken jukebox.
With vinyl on the comeback, though, Audio-Technica -- a brand that started out selling phonographic needles -- has shown off its take on the future of the turntable via Bluetooth. This enables you to send ABBA or the Bee Gees wirelessly to any of the hundreds of Bluetooth speakers or headphones available while retaining a sound that feels as warm as Jimmy Carter in a sweater with the thermostat turned down.
Kodak and Audio-Technica may be new to getting back to the future, but the Polaroid brand has been there and back, being affixed to a wide range of products. Among them has been the Polaroid Z2300, a 10-megapixel digital camera that instantly prints photos like the Polaroid cameras of decades ago.
That's now been followed up by the Snap, a smaller, sub-$100 instant print camera that forgoes a screen on the back but includes a pop-up viewfinder, a memory card slot for saving photos, and a lens cap -- just the thing for capturing adoring photos of your pet rock. Like the Z2300, the Snap uses technology from Zink to make its prints. That means no shaking the output and somewhat smaller output (2" x 3") than prints from classic Polaroid 600 film. However, it avoids the problem of streaking, also a name for a '70s fad we'd all like to forget.