Friday, January 15, 2016

Analog Still Matters

Forget hoverboards, fridges that talk to the Internet, and self-driving cars. Three of the most popular items at this month's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- a cine camera, a record turntable and a new Polaroid snapper -- suggest there's a back-from-the-future movement gaining ground that reflects a growing fatigue with the virtual world of digital products, and a renewed enthusiasm for the old-fashioned analog experience.

It's a debate that rages in my house. My partner sniffs books as she opens them; she says it conjures up memories of childhood library visits that promised to make all of the world's knowledge and literary entertainment available. For her, the latest adventures of Bridget Jones in paperback, have all of the evocative power of Proust's madeleine cakes. Me, I've owned a Kindle since they first became available almost a decade ago; I can't remember the last time I bought an actual physical book.

It's the same with music. I consigned my CDs to posterity as soon as I'd spent the hours required to load them into iTunes and transfer them to an iPod; my partner's record collection sits on a shelf, sacrosanct even though neglected. But in Vegas, Panasonic revealed a revamped Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable -- a record player that disappeared in 2010, and yet was so vital to the rise of the superstar DJ that the London Science Museum has a pair on display.

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