Apart from discarding or selling, there’s much more that can be done with aging devices.

The best thing about technology is that it changes quite fast, to give way for new and better innovations. Processors get faster, screens get thinner but brighter, and the number of things that you can do with one gadget also increases. But as a consumer, it oft becomes a problem – what do you do with your old gadgets when you buy the latest one?

Of course, you can trade your old tablet, computer, smartphone for a discount when you buy a new one, but there are many more things that you can do around the house with your old gadget.

Let ‘em sing

Use it as a storage device for all your multimedia. This is the simplest thing to do with your old smartphone apart from chucking it into the bin. A lot of iPhone 5 customers have turned their old iPhones into the device that stays permanently docked into the sound dock. That makes good use of both the old iPhone and the 19-pin dock that is not directly compatible with the new iPhone which has a different port.

Old iPads too, can be converted into bedside movie screens. With a little investment, you can have the old iPad embedded (or have a small notch made serving as a holder) at the foot of your bed or in your car and use it to watch movies. The new iPad might have better specs, but the old one would still have its storage space and screen. And that’s quite enough.

With the launch of the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S IV, a lot of Android phones will also get the ‘dated’ tag. But the technology inside them might not necessarily be outdated. Many Android smarphones come with DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct and micro-HDMI ports too. So why not store all your HD videos and hook it up to the big TV?

For instance, if your children love science and space stuff, you can fill the old device with such videos and let them watch it while you can use your new device for other purposes.

Manufacturers like Bang and Olufsen also offer iPad docks that you can use to permanently dock in your old one, and since the docks’ designs are also quite elegant, they add to the décor as well. If not anything, your old phone can act as the portable music player you always wanted to use in rough conditions, but couldn’t because it was also your phone. Oh, and lest we forget, it can always double up as an alarm clock.

Let ‘em play

It is often said that one can never be too old or too young for video games. It is also said that a gadget can never be too old to play with. So you put those two statements together, you get a gaming device for someone in your family.

Old tablets can be hooked up to gaming accessories from Razer or iCade, such as game pads, controllers, or even complete arcade consoles. This means that you can turn your old iPad into the pinball machine that you’ve always wished to own. Or if you don’t want to go to those extremes, you can give your tablet to your grandparents as a digital chessboard.

Old laptops too, can become the ultimate gaming stations. With the advent of Ultrabooks and convertibles, older and heavier laptops are gathering dust in some dark corner of the attic. With a little tweaking here and there, or a slight spec boost that would not cost much, you can start using that heavy laptop as a CPU itself.

Hook it up to an old monitor or a TV; add a set of keyboard and mouse, or a gaming pad if it fancies you, and you’re good to go. You can thus have a dedicated gaming machine built from salvaged and recycled parts, which would cost you only a fraction of the cost of a completely new one.

Help the artist

Yes, you can nurture the budding digital artist in you if you have a gadget to spare. Most old laptops can be hooked up to bigger screens, and once you have that, and a mouse, or a digital pen and pad, you can start creating designs, editing photos, videos and what not. In short, with minimal investment, you can set up your own digital studio.

It also goes without saying that old tablets can be used with stylus pens as digital doodle pads – something that young artists, fashion designers, and students will just love to play around with.

Many old desktop PCs lying waste have been revived by amateur filmmakers, who, due to budget constraints, spend only on minor upgrades and set these PCs up as their editing machines.

There are definitely a lot more that you can do with old gadgets – like turn an old smartphone into a navigation device, or use it as a portable Wi-Fi router. Some old smartphones have even been used as home surveillance as security cameras!

By re-using old gadgets, you not only have unique and inexpensive tech setups, you also save the environment from being affected by certain harmful metals. There is also, always, the noble option of donating old gadgets to improve and encourage tech education, and help out young innovators.

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 7, 2013)
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