Microsoft’s Zune music player never caught on the way Apple’s iPod devices did. But the company actually made some pretty compelling portable media players, and it turns out some folks are still using them.

Motherboard’s Jordan Pearson spoke with some Zune diehards earlier this year and discovered that some are hanging onto tech that others consider obsolete particularly because a Zune does a lot less than a modern smartphone. A Zune is good for listening to music and not much else. It doesn’t send data back to Microsoft. And more than a decade after the first Zune was launched, some folks still prefer the user interface to anything that’s come since.

I’m pretty sure the Zune isn’t an isolated example of an old device that still has a loyal following. So that got me thinking… I wonder what other old tech people are using?

For example, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is famous for writing with a DOS-based word processor that he says has all the features he needs and few that he doesn’t.

The recent Nintendo Classic craze shows that there are still plenty of people interested in playing 30-year old console games. And while Lenovo’s new 25th anniversary edition ThinkPad borrows some design elements from older ThinkPad laptops, some hackers have actually built their own truly retro laptops by stuffing modern guts into classic ThinkPad cases.

So what’s your Zune? Is there some piece of old tech that you’ve been hanging onto for years? What’s so special about it? And if it were to die, would you upgrade or search eBay for a replacement?

via Hacker News

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81 replies on “What old tech are you hanging on to?”

  1. I fire up my Palm Pre 3 every few months. I do a little simple browsing and stuff like that. I still find the UI unmatched in today’s mobile OSes.

  2. I’ve got a load old computers still running Windows 98. The system is heavily modded with 98lite and 982me which makes them blindingly fast. they are still great for old school lan gaming evenings/weekends with counterstrike, unreal tournament, AoE2 etc.

    I’ve got my grandfather’s old HiFi too. indestructible and sounds great.

  3. I have an old 21-inch Sanyo flat panel CRT TV that I used for all my retro consoles (Wii, PS2, and prior) mainly because of its component input and because it can actually receive a 240p or 480i signal without bugging out. Older games are much crisper on CRT TVs, and action games (like Mega Man) are actually playable due to the instant response time. I’m looking at getting a PVM CRT, but I have yet to find one that’s affordable.

    Not terribly retro, but I also use a 2013 Dell Chromebook 11 for my primary computer to write and view content. I also have a few older computers (like a terrible 2006 HP DV6000 that had a battery recall) hooked up for older games (Half Life, Diablo 2, etc.). Good times.

    I also use a Gen 1 NOOK from B&N for eBooks. It can take any kind of format and doesn’t have the locked file systems or DRM crap that other devices (like the latest Kindles) have.

  4. Still have a Rio Karma media player that I’ve repaired about 4 times, and a Palm Treo 680 that I’ve kept just because it has Little John Palm on it.

  5. I forgot to mention, I also have a Creative Labs Zen W. It has a 30gb 1.8″ HDD in it. It also has a Compact Flash card reader on the side.

    It supports Divx and Xvid movies. It was a pretty neat device back in its day. I keep it around when I need something for MP3, when I don’t want to rely on my phone being charged (long flights).

  6. I have a 1977 Heathkit H8 computer that I boot up every few years just to make sure it still works

  7. My ThinkPad T430. I feel that it was the last really good ThinkPad. I’ve removed the optical drive to make room for another HDD. So I have SSD + HDD. The i7 is still really powerful. The only shortcoming is Wifi adapter support. Lenovo has a whitelist of approved adapters, and as WiFi technology advances, it will be left behind

    I have an old HTC Tytn that I hang onto to play the old Pocket PC port of Age of Empires.

  8. I love my zune! I have 30gb and the 80gb one. Love them to death. And I’m only 26.

  9. Hmm, old tech. Does a K6/2-400 box running RHL6.2/KDE1.1 count? It’s a workhorse LAN cron/email/https server plus it’s my most comfy writing environment, more comfy than the KDE3.5/TDE14 the rest of the machines here run. Oh, and u/agumonkey jostled me into remembering that I do use an HP11C/HP16C pair regularly, plus an HP41CV rarely. And a Tektronix 465B… I’m wishing I hadn’t let go of my old Underwood office-manual typewriter: even a daisy-wheel is inferior for filling out parts-bin labels.

  10. Recently I bought myself some old electronics, and I really like it:
    One is a Thinkpad X60s, which is really great to write on. It quickly became my main computer. I am looking forward to upgrading its display to SXGA+.
    The other device is a Kindle DXG, which is great for reading pdf ebooks. Sure, there are more modern large eReaders, but they cost a lot more.

  11. I didn’t have a Zune but I currently use along with the latest tech some unlocked/refurbished /discontinued products like Nokia X2 slate, Sony PRS-T1 Reader with the battery yet to be changed, Acer 5517 laptop from 2009 recently upgraded to CPU AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-60, new AS09A41 battery, 4GB RAM, 120GB SSD, Atheros AR9832 Wi-Fi Card and running like a charm Peppermint OS.

  12. HP DeskJet 500C inkjet printer (about 25 years old), X61t and T60 Thinkpads with 4:3 screens (mainly as terminals around the house to remote into a central desktop), Toshiba Gigabeat 40GB and iPod Nano 3G (the short, fat one)

      1. Until recently I had a 230 mb Syquest drive. I loved the sound it made when it spun up.

  13. My Blackberry 9810 still runs Pandora.

    I have a couple of oddball devices I refuse to throw out but don’t use *legacy operating systems mostly, a Windowsphone with a capacitative screen and 1ghz proc and a projector attachment, a Playbook, iPhone2…) but that’s one I like. I’ve watched the apps on it lose support and stop working on it over the years and cry every time another one bites the dust. Pandora is the last stalwart, if that goes the phone will join the collection drawer.

    The brutal, beautiful simplicity of apps that were designed to be light on memory, processing, and data is amazing to this day.

    It’s like how the Apollo made it to the moon with less power than today’s calculators, or how Edmund Hillary made it up Everest without Gore-tex….

    1. I also keep some tube-amp radios around (one a Becker from my first ca,r a 1976 Mercedes, run off old computer PSU for the 12 volt)… but nothing like the 9810…

  14. Laserdisc player and discs. Kept them for the occasional rewatching of the original Star Wars trilogy without all the later changes.

    1. I used my Motorola E815 until it literally fell apart. I liked that phone a lot.

  15. I play retro roms on my nearly 8 year old Sony Xperia play. I rooted the device and removed all the bloatware and apps all the way down to bare minimum core apps needed by the system. The Android gingerbread software operates just fine and I’ve only updated the battery once. I’ll hold on to the this retro handheld device till it dies!

    1. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was released “just” 6½ ago though. The internal flash was very small making it a bit unpractical but I image rooting it helps with that.

  16. I use this bluetooth fm transmitter in my car. I think it’s almost 4 years old. Still works fine. I guess that’s not really old but most people have bluetooth built into cars these days.

      1. I have a working boom box from the mid 80’s , double deck with auto play

  17. I still use my Sharp Aquos Crystal it wasn’t until recent that there was actually a phone that was really similar to it, but I still use it as my main phone because it is just as speedy and stable as it has always been

  18. Still using a 30 year old IBM Model M keyboard with my i7 Dell desktop. I don’t mind a good modern keyboard, but it’s still #1.

    1. Took one Model M from work that I had been carrying around from workstation to workstation for 30 years. But I had 4 others at home, even the “super” model M keyboard with trackball and pointer button.

      Still have my Exidy Sorcerer 8-bit micro and the black and white cathode ray 14 inch TV for the screen.

      Use Xywrite 3 and 4 and Sprint word processors for DOS under VdosPro these days.

      Have several slide rules, including the 8 foot instruction PIckett model.
      Abaci and know how to use all of the them quickly. 4 Curtas when the local agricultural station dumped them.

  19. old stuff still works for me. zen media player with 1GB .then sandisk 2.0 player.Sony Walkman 8GB..ipod 30GB.,plus some portable CD players.gee i have a bunch of old stuff must be old my self .

  20. Old tech? Where to start? I have a number of Chumbys (3.5″ & 8″) around the house that give me weather, news, Pandora, etc. without Amazon’s, Google’s, or Apple’s spying. I have a tube amp and a reel to reel that I use occasionally. Assorted amps, tuners, and speakers anywhere from 30 to 40 years old (though some are are connected to bluetooth receivers). In the workshop there is an analog oscilloscope, frequency counter, sweep generator, capacitance tester (uses tubes). Three film (35mm) cameras. The list could go on for a while.
    Before someone asks, yes, I have a bunch of new tech too (one year old Samsung Galaxy phone, two year old HDTV, new(ish) laptop, Smart switch for the front porch, etc.)

    1. Nice. There’s really no reason to replace old audio gear unless you need connectivity, and even then, an adapter can usually do it. But some old school stuff still runs circles around newer gear.

  21. Trying to think of something, but having just bought my first flat-screen TV, my 22-year old 31-inch Sony CRT TV behemoth doesn’t really count any more.

    I do sport an LG G2 mobile phone, which is practically ancient by mobile standards, but I only retired my two previous mobiles (Motorola SLVR v7 and LG Optimus T) once they were no long able to load even simple web pages — at all — so I’m not exactly an early adopter.

    I love my tatty old Thinkpad (wired) external keyboard, with Trackpoint, even though half the letters on the keytops have been worn away, and the USB cable has to anchored by binder clips to fend off a loose connection. I have two more stashed away, that will hopefully see me through the next 20 years, at least, since Lenovo stopped making them.

    Last year, I needed to transfer some recordings from cassette tapes, so I thought I would use my hifi tape deck to do it. The unit powered up no problem and dutifully accepted the tape, but nothing happened when I pressed play. Upon investigation, it seems that 20+ years of hot summers in the southern US isn’t good for the rubber bands that drive the tape deck mechanisms. All of them had (quite literally) turned to goo.

    Finally, I just realized I’m typing this comment on the PC keyboard supplied with Micron PC I bought 25 years ago, so it must be the oldest piece of tech I still use on a regular basis. I have an even older IBM keyboard lying around somewhere that I purloined from work (shh!!) a long time ago, and a full height 5.25 inch floppy disk drive. I really must see if it still works, one of these days.

    1. Sounds like you need to do some office cleaning. I just wiped a bunch of old hard drives so I could take a couple of old desktops in for recycling. I like to keep a spare or three was a bit excessive. 🙂

      1. And some. I was just telling a friend the other day, I don’t think I’ve disposed of a single computer part in the last 20 years, and I’ve built a number of PCs in that time…

        Not a hoarder though…. really…. I’m not….

    2. I used to have an LG G2 until my son knocked it out of my hands and broke the digitizer. I would still be using it otherwise – excellent phone. Perfect size, great button placement, bright screen, good camera – just an excellent all around smartphone.

  22. I still use my Zune as well. I have a Zune HD and I love it. The UI is the best I have ever used for navigating and playing music. It’s only nice to listen to music without killing my phone battery even faster. Audio quality is better than most phones too.

    1. Same reasons here. It’s fairly small so very pocket friendly + the battery life is still very good. And the music UI is still quite good, for example new albums showing up and the ability to pin albums that I’m playing often that particular week.

      Sound quality beats out most smartphones I’ve used, except for the Samsung Galaxy (Wolfson chipset, same as the Zune).

  23. Sony CD Walkman D-E500 (has optical output) and Sony Minidisc MZ-R4ST. I did my first all digital dubbing in 1997 with an optical cable. In 2000 I bought a Philips Expanium EXP103. My last audio player was a Philips SA1110 (1GB). I have been on phones ever since.
    I will be buried with the first 2 devices.

    1. I also will be buried with my Buffalo LS-250GL NAS. I loaded optware onto the internal flash using a parallel port to JTAG cable. One of the best days of my life. It was the first single drive NAS with a SATA drive and gigabit Ethernet.

      1. I also have my modded Sony PlayStation and modded Xbox 360. Personally modding things really increases the sentimental value.

    2. Nice! I’ve still got a n old Sony mminidisc recorder from my days as a radio news reporter. I never use it anymore, but I haven’t bothered backing up some of my old stories that are only on minidisc, so it’s the only thing in the house that can still read them 🙂

      1. I have had 2 tracks go bad so far (same disc). I bet I could find more corrupted tracks if I went thru my old collection. It had awesome analog mic recording quality. I recorded a Chemical Brothers concert with it in 1997.

  24. I still use my Zune HD (though I wish I still had my brown Zune 30 and Halo themed Zune 30).

    I still use a PSP-3000. Not only for gaming, but the SensMe music app still does an amazing job of automatically arranging my music into “channels”.

    I also still use my ThinkPad T42 running WinXP w/POSReady 2009 patch to allow security updates until April 2019.

    But more than using old hardware, I still use my fair share of old software.

    1. “Victrola” now that is a name I haven’t heard in a very long time. When I was a kid we used “Victrola” as the generic term for record player. Like “Kleenex” and “Coke” when you wanted a tissue or a soda.

  25. My 1 year old Android. Yeah, it’s been abandoned but it still has its uses.

  26. I’ve still got a Zune HD, a couple of iPod minis, an Aiwa portable cassette player from ’98 (don’t remember the model), and maybe even a SNES-101 (revised model of the SNES).

  27. My Zune is my Zune.. The Zune HD! Looking for a good deal on a fat older Zune..

    1. Ha i fix the old zune 30gb all the time and i also upgrade their memory!

  28. I had a Zune, the one that was like an ipod touch. Zune HD I think. I still have it, but haven’t used it in years. I have lots of old game consoles. Do 720p LCD TVs count as old tech? 720p is HD enough for me, at any size. And I have a bunch of laptops, mostly 5-10 years old. The ones closer to 10 years old still run great thanks to Linux and, because they’re mobile chips, the power consumption is pretty low. I even keep a broken Ivy Bridge Ideapad around as a desktop. I bought that thing when it was new and I intend to get my money’s worth out of it. I removed the screen due to a faulty hinge design that would have been a problem to repair.

  29. I’m ashamed to say that this old style wall timer is about the only old tech I have in the house, if you ignore my thermostat and door locks which I refuse to “upgrade.” My computers and printers were recently updated as well as my home automation system. Just timing I guess because usually I have older things hanging around. I even used to keep a floppy disc drive inside my computer, ready to hook up, just in case. Anyway, these wall switches seem ancient now, and need to have their clocks reset 2x a year just because they are inaccurate!

    1. I just remembered, I have a 1.3 MP Canon camera that I still use time to time. It takes great pictures and is often all the resolution I need. I do though have a newer Canon camera with a much better lens.

  30. I still use a Nokia N800 (that I bought in 2008) with a bluetooth keyboard as a mobile writing platform It’s a very portable way to have a Linux command line with vim and without any distractions. I mean, technically I can connect to the web, but I shudder to think what browsing with a single 400 MHz core would be like in 2017.

  31. Oh, and not me but my Mom still has a10+ years old Thinkpad from IBM days with Windows 3.x and a single USB port. She exclusively runs an old version of Scrabble on it. The battery is long dead, but the rest works perfectly.

    1. I’ve been using Thinkpads for well over 20 years, though alas, I tend to wear them out within 3-4 years of daily use. I did buy my parents a Thinkpad i1500 back in 1999, telling them I wanted to bring them into the 20th century before they left it. Little did I know I would have to endure their retelling of that tale for the next 18 years and counting…

  32. I’m still using FM radio. Most phones with a jack actually have RM radio apps.

  33. My 15 year old cyclocross bicycle still works great.

    And I use some legacy (film) lenses on my Sony A7Rii camera body. (some as old as 50 years.)

    1. The paper part is easy. Trying to find a pen that works when you only use them a few times a year, can be a chore sometimes!

  34. My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1520, about 9 years old. Over the years I’ve replaced: the battery, a cracked screen, an overheated video card, and a broken cooler fan. Since I’ve upgraded to an SSD and to 4GB of ram, the Core2 Duo T7500 is still strong enough for pretty much anything I have to do on the go (Even light gaming, if I limit myself to really old games & emulators).

    Aside from that, I have a modified original Xbox, which I boot up about once a month to play *backed up* (thankfully, since the CD reader barely works) copies of Halo and Halo2.

    1. Nice! While I love the trend toward light weight laptops, it’s tough to beat those older models when it comes to longevity thanks to replaceable batteries, RAM, and storage!

      I’ve also still got a Nintendo Wii that I use pretty regularly as part of my fitness routine, but I’ve never really used it for actual gaming.

  35. I don’t have a Zune device, but I still use the Zune software as my Windows Music library. The Microsoft Store equivalent applications have a hard time maintaining a large library. I’ve never been much of a fan of iTunes, and there hasn’t been much of a market for this type of application on the Windows desktop for over a decade, I suppose. Thankfully the Zune software can still be installed and works just fine.

    1. You should try musicbee, i am still using zune because I have a zune player, and is the only way to update it.

      1. Just a note to second the MusicBee recommendation. It’s an excellent for organizing large libraries.

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