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5 gadgets that went from unaffordable to worthless

Here are 5 gadgets which were once in high demand and hugely unaffordable by the general public, but are now pretty much useless.

vhs tape

Brand new gadgets always seem like a great deal at the time, even if they are a little on the pricey side. However, while some gadgets successfully stand the test of time, and while some actually increase in value and become rare collector’s items, others become worthless.

Here are 5 gadgets which were once in high demand and hugely unaffordable by the general public, but are now pretty much useless.

Neo Geo AES

When the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System was first launched in 1990, it came at such a high price point that, initially, it was only available for commercial rental. You could find the AES in expensive hotel rooms, but not in people’s homes. The console’s retail value was around $650; estimated to be the equivalent of more than $1000 today based on rates of inflation. Pretty pricey for a console.

The AES actually had a lot going for it — arcade quality games without the need for a full arcade machine — but the cost just proved too much for consumers. Eventually, Neo Geo introduced the more affordable but lower quality Neo Geo CD, followed by the Hyper Neo Geo 64, but they weren’t enough to keep the brand in business and Neo Geo was officially discontinued in 2004, largely rendering the AES worthless.

Vidstar VCR & Video Cassettes

Smaller, and with greater capacities than Betamax, it wasn’t surprising that Video Home Systems or ‘VHS’ became an essential gadget for home entertainment. But before mainstream VHS came to the Vidstar VCR; the first of its kind in the world. Introduced in 1977, the Vidstar cost an eye-watering $1280, or around $4600 today allowing for inflation. And that’s not all! Blank video cassettes for the Vidstar would set you back $20 in the 1970’s… more than $70 today. So where is the Vidstar now?

It’s little more than history, and there’s even a model featured on display at Tokyo’s National Museum of Nature and Science. Lower cost, generic VHS have suffered a similar fate, with digital solutions taking over. Today, even DVD is considered an endangered technology, replaced with on-demand streaming media services, like Netflix.

LaserDisc

No one can deny that LaserDisc had potential. With complete control over playback, allowing users to jump directly to a specific frame, LaserDisc certainly had its advantages. Unfortunately, it also had its disadvantages:  the discs were huge, heavy, and prone to breaking, and also featured highly limited capacity, particularly compared to VHS which was around at the same time.

These issues, coupled with the high cost of the players (the first LaserDisc players cost upwards of $1000, with releases costing anywhere from $35 to $100 each!), meant that LaserDisc never quite hit the hotspot. In fact, by 1998, it was estimated that only 2% of US households owned a LaserDisc player. Although pristine layers are now somewhat of a collector’s item, fetching hundreds of Dollars, their used counterparts are worthless.

PDA

Portable internet? Yes, please! Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs, were among some of the first consumer-friendly mobile devices to hit the market. Doubling as a personal information manager, PDAs provided instant access to what you needed, when you needed it. Following on from the world’s first PDA, the 1984 Organizer, major manufacturers such as Nokia soon created their own versions, like the Nokia 9000 Communicator, which came with a jaw-dropping price tag of $800.

But PDAs are now pretty much worthless, having been largely discontinued in 2010. So what went wrong? Timing. PDAs had a lot of potential, but they were introduced just a few short years before the smartphone became mainstream. The mid-2000s saw the introduction of the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and the Blackberry.

3D TV

3D TV was ‘the next big thing’, and when manufacturers figured out how to create 3D viewing without the need for 3D glasses, the cost of these sets skyrocketed. Perhaps the most famous example of an unaffordable 3D TV set was the TCL TD-42F, which cost a staggering $20,000! And it’s not just the sets themselves that were unaffordable; 3D content had the ability to significantly drain your bank account, too. Following a set of high profile 3D movie releases in the mid-2000s, like Superman Returns and Up, interest in 3D viewing began to rapidly decline.

In the United States, Xfinity 3D, ESPN 3D, 3Net, Cinema 3D, and n3D are now all defunct channels, leaving just 3flow, HIGH TV 3D, and Cables MSG 3D, which offers a limited service. Without a good selection of 3D content, 3D TV sets are completely worthless.

Andrea Boffo is CEO of PlusVoucherCode, a website that provides discount codes to save money on online purchases.

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