Amazon launches gadget trade-in program for gift cards

Amazon now accepts gently-used gadgets like phones, cameras and other toys in exchange for credit on -- so you can buy even more stuff in the future.

If you follow this blog, you probably have enough old gear to build your own tech museum. From pre-Pentium 386MH towers and bubble-jet printers, CRTs and extra LCD monitors, every iteration of the iPod and iPhone, to various digital cameras from 3 to 12 megapixels, this collection is all too common. Unfortunately, no one has that much space to house these out-of-date technologies, and tossing them in the trash is not an option (some parts can be reused, while toxic items like batteries should be disposed of by other methods). So what is a gadget lover to do?

Luckily, Amazon just extended its popular trade-in program to include consumer electronics like phones, GPS devices and computers. Gadget hounds can browse through its Electronics Trade-in Store to see which items are available for trade-in and the value being offered by Amazon, select those that you wish to send Amazon, then request a free shipping label to ship them to Amazon for free. These items do not have to be former Amazon purchases: they could be gifts, hand-me-downs, or items bought from competitors. Even better yet, your trade-in box can contain other items like textbooks and movies and TVs, which are part of the Amazon Trade-in program launched in 2009. Once your used items are received and approved, Amazon promises to credit your account within 48 hours, according to its press release.

Before you get too excited that you've finally found a home for your old PC tower, you'll find not every gadget out there is eligible for trade-in. For example, while a near-new 32 Gb iPod touch could net you a maximum of $143.25, an equally gently used 2 Gb SanDisk Sansa Clip MP3 Player is only worth $5.50 to Amazon. Although the press release does not outline what Amazon intends to do with all the used gadgets, it is possible Amazon is gearing up to enter the used electronics space, where your "almost" donations would help seed this venture.

If you absolutely must get rid of your old toys, then you might as well get a few dollars from Amazon in the process. Just don't do the math on how much that box of gadgets cost you originally...