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Old flames: Products that keep the retro fires burning

It's no fun when lovers play mind games, but there's no shortage of ways to celebrate one's love of old video games, not to mention other tech products carrying brands that once flamed out

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Nokia

See it now: Nokia phones on Amazon

Once the global phone leader, Nokia fell on hard times as the iPhone and Android phones took over its market and eventually sold its phone business to Microsoft, which eventually wrote it off. But now, the Android-based Nokia phones that many wished for are a reality thanks to HMD, a licensee of the brand staffed by former Nokians. The brand still ranks as the leading provider of feature phones and is now making a big push into North America. It's even developing an augmented reality version of the Snake game that dominated mobile games in an era before the scourges of in-app ads and purchases.

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2 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Nintendo

See it now: Nintendo consoles on Amazon

Few companies have capitalized as well on nostalgia as Nintendo, which keeps reinventing a classic stable of characters with the panache of Disney. But the old games themselves were limited to being played on modern hardware until Nintendo released its own mini-console version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Demand for the product resulted in extreme shortages and inspired a similar effort with the Super NES. Rumors have swirled that the company may come back with a retro version of the Nintendo 64, its last successful console before the Wii.

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3 of 13 Amelia Holowaty Krales

Palm

See it now: Palm at Best Buy

TCL has been a haven for nostalgia brands. A former producer of TVs under the RCA brand, it now produces phones under the Alcatel and Blackberry brands. It's also a key investor in the new Palm, to which it provided the brand of the handheld pioneer. Created by ex-Samsung employees, the small Android phone is meant to serve as a companion to your larger smartphone, be it of the Android or iOS variety. The device seeks to eke out a position between the smartphone and smartwatch just as folding screens may address the pocket real estate crunch.

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4 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Atari VCS

See it now: Atari VCS on Indiegogo

The breakthrough home videogame console played an early role in sparking the retro crazy, with the AtGames Atari Flashback kicking off generations of the emulated console. The Atari VCS, though, is a new Linux-based console that will run a library of Atari 2600 and arcade games while also serving as an entertainment hub. After raising over $3 million on Indiegogo, the new console is due in July.

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5 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Bkackberry

See it now: BlackBerry Key2 on Amazon

The small physical keyboards on the first BlackBerry phones, so prized by their users, earned the scorn of Steve Jobs as he introduced the iPhone. Produced by TCL, the BlackBerry Key2 represents the designated survivor of QWERTY-based phones, pairing the keyboard with a few Android apps that recreate such standbys as Blackberry Messenger and Blackberry Hub as well as enhanced security from the company that was once Research in Motion.

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6 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Victrola

See it now: Crosley products on Amazon

1940s-era brands such as Crosley have been in the retro-styled turntable business for years. But Victrola was so identified with turntables that it was sometimes used as a generic synonym, much like Kleenex, Xerox or TiVo. Part of the portfolio clearly strives to nail the aesthetics of an earlier time although the company also has models with more modern styling.

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7 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Motorola RAZR

See it now: Motorola phones on Amazon

Motorola never disappeared as a phone brand and, unlike Nokia, BlackBerry or Palm, didn't stray far from Android (after some early Windows Phone models). But the brand, which is now owned by Lenovo, has never recaptured the magic of its RAZR feature phone days despite using the brand on a thin Android slate phone. Now, with the advent of folding screens rumors swirl that we could see an Android-based RAZR far more evocative of the original.

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8 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Polaroid

See it now: Polaroid electronics on Amazon

Polaroid founder Edwin Land was the Steve Jobs of his time. Alas, Land's company struggled to survive as digital photography took over, and the brand has since showed up on a dizzying variety of products. These include point-and-shoot cameras with integrated printers that recreate much of the original Polaroid experience, smartphones and 3D printers. The Polaroid rainbow previously appeared on the icon of the modern-as-can-be Instagram.

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9 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

RCA

See it now: RCA electronics on Amazon

The company that brought America the first color TV wound down after it was abandoned as a division of French broadcast tech company Thomson. But the brand was picked up by video tech company Technicolor. It has since adorned TVs as well as as sub-$100 2-in-1s running Android and Windows. It's also shown up on a few more surprising products such as a microwave, but hasn't been flung as far as Polaroid despite a broader portfolio association.

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10 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Intellivision Amico

See it now: Intellivision Amico

What do you get when you combine a classic console brand, new silicon optimized for 2D games, aggressive console and game prices, a focus on family-friendly games, quality screening, and a team of videogame veterans helmed by celebrated game composer Tommy Tallarico? We won't exactly know until October 10th, 2020, when the Intellivision Amico is scheduled to launch. The company that launched the videogame war with side-by-side comparisons in TV commercials is promising updated versions of classic Intellivision and -- gasp -- Atari games as well as a library of original offerings that will have some degree of exclusivity.

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11 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Internet Software Archive

See it now: Raspberry Pi on Amazon

There's no need to purchase new hardware, even an inexpensive Raspberry Pi, to run the software of old. The Internet Software Archive hosts thousands of old applications and operating systems to let you explore a simpler time of computing. Many applications run right in the browser.

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12 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

Psion

See it now: Gemini PDA on Indiegogo

The Gemini PDA doesn't bear the brand of Psion, the company that created the cult-favorite Plsion 5. But the device from Planet Computers includes its signature best-in-class keyboard designed by the original's creator and a few Android apps inspired by those from the original Psion model. A follow-on device that integrates more phone features wrapped up its own Indiegogo campaign in December.

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13 of 13 Ross Rubin/ZDNet

ColecoVision

See it now: ColecoVision on Amazon

After years of producing Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis retro consoles, AtGames extended its purview to two consoles that were launched between those two hits, the Intellivision and ColecoVision. The latter, which produced pretty faithful recreations of gold standard arcade games, was the last console produced before the videogame crash wiped the field clear for Nintendo's entry. It also transformed into an early home computer, dubbed the ADAM. However, unlike for Intellivision, there seems to be no major efforts to try to revive the ColecoVision hardware again.

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