As technological development advances and accelerates, we embrace new standards and benefit from constant technical improvements, but with each new advancement there’s plenty of tech we’re expected to let go of. Here’s my list of 4 such technologies.
Number 4: Optical Media: Seems like an obvious one. Laptops and ultrabooks have jettisoned DVD drives long ago and even desktops are shedding them now. However, Sony and Panasonic have spoken about introducing a new Blu-Ray standard with a 300GB capacity. If it happens it would make for a handy data archiving medium. But would you really use one?
Number 3: Digital Cameras: Smartphone cameras are producing videos and photos that rival the very best point-and-shoot products on the market. Proprietary devices like handheld cameras and even consumer camcorders are soon going to be a thing of the past. Many camera manufacturers have moved to work exclusively on smartphone cameras because it may soon be the only way they’ll stay relevant. Although DSLRs will no doubt continue to be a prosumer and professional product variant, they too will have to adapt. I think in the future of photography at least in part will be based around third-party snap on lens accessories for smartphone cameras.
Number 2: I/O Ports: As much as I disagree with Apple’s lamentable approach to the new 2015 MacBook and its 1-port solution, it is a warning sign of where the industry may be headed. With Wi-Fi 802.11AC and Bluetooth 4.2 becoming so much faster and reliable, wireless technologies could one day completely replace the data transfer standards of USB, SD card slots and Display adaptors. Even charging of laptops will probably be wireless like on some smartphones. Could I/O ports be completely removed?
USB-C is a suitable one-size fits all connection for all purposes but having just or or two of these connections on laptop is simply not enough. I’m skeptical that wireless tech can completely replace physical I/O ports given how Wi-Fi can be disrupted by interference, load and spectrum hogging and environmental factors such as the kind of building or room you’re in. Certain home insulation materials can act like a faraday cage for wireless signals, completely or at least partially disrupting them. I think that it’s a good idea for physical I/O to stick around and not be retired like DVD drives at least in a backup capacity.
Number 1: Mechanical Hard Drives: It’s probably going to take another 10 – 15 years, but spinning hard disks cannot last for two reasons. Firstly, flash storage drives are becoming cheaper and their capacities are growing, although there’s still a long way to go before they become a more cost effective solution.
Secondly, consumers are becoming quite okay with using smartphones and tablets as their primary day-to-day computing devices and these mobile machines have very small internal storage capacities compared to the hundreds of gigabytes offered by conventional PCs. The reason is because more and more of the services we use and the files we save are being based in the cloud. Users are embracing cloud storage for better or worse and this means that internal storage is becoming a little bit less relevant than it used to be.
Just look at how Chromebooks have taken off as a product category. It seems as if the industry doesn’t want us to continue to keep requiring larger and larger internal hard drives to store our data, but is this really all about offering us on-the-go convenience and access to our data from any location and any device? Or is it at least partly an attempt to get us to part with our personal files and basically upload our hard drives into the cloud so that corporations know more and more about us? We all know how willing corporations are to hand over our data to government intelligence agencies when asked, so could such a development mean the complete end of our privacy? Only if you embrace cloud computing and that’s entirely your choice.
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