Wednesday 13 December 2017

Low fidelity: the people embracing low-tech living

Paperbacks outsell e-books and retro Polaroid cameras make a comeback...

Vinyl fanatic Joanna Marie
Vinyl fanatic Joanna Marie
Retro gamer Daryl Fitzsimons
Gameboy
USB Mixtape, €19.95, available from www.gifts.ie
Philips OTT2000, €149.99, available from Harvey Norman
Polaroid 300, €89.99, available from www.camera.ie
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

High-tech selfie sticks may have been the top present for Christmas, but when it comes to getting snap happy, now Polaroid cameras could be about to stick it to smartphones.

More than six decades since launching in the US, sales of the retro instant camera are up 75 pc, according to new figures.

In the wake of last year's celebrity nude photo scandal, which saw photos of more than 100 female celebrities - including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton - leaked online, privacy could be one reason for the camera's incredible comeback, with another victim, Big Bang star Kaley Cuoco (29), recently declaring: "Polaroids are the way to go. No one can get those."

But it's just not selfie-snappers who are turning their back on technology for something more tangible in 2015.

Despite predictions that the sale of e-books would overtake printed books by 2018, paperbacks remained by far the more popular choice among readers last year, accounting for 42 pc of sales - almost twice that of e-books - a Nielsen survey found.

Vinyl sales also flourished in 2014, with figures from the UK's Official Charts Company confirming that the 12-inch enjoyed its best year in two decades, whilst digital sales dipped.

Even typewriters are bouncing back after Tom Hanks publicly proclaimed his love for the outmoded machine: "The tactile pleasure of typing is incomparable ... there is a sheer physical pleasure to typing."

While Anna Wintour, Rihanna and Scarlett Johansson are just some of the fellow stars who've been snapped using old-fashioned flip phones - soon to be revived by Samsung - of late.

We met two twenty-somethings who reveal why they've gone back to basics: Video may have killed the radio star, but vinyl is forever, says 28-year-old Dublin singer and occupational therapist Joanna Marie of www.joannamariemusic.com.

"As a child, my parents had a record player, and I remember listening to Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman' on repeat. My sisters and I would sit around the player messing with the speed select, laughing at how it made him sound like one of the Chipmunks.

"There was something quite magical about it. As a teenager, I moved with the times, and began listening to and collecting CDs. More recently, like everyone else, I began listening to music digitally. But I always felt like I was somehow being cheated when I purchased an album online. Sure, you get the artwork and lyrics digitally on iTunes, but it's just not the same - I want to hold the album in my hands.

"So when I saw the latest Philips record and CD player when I was doing my Christmas shopping, I just couldn't walk away. Within days, I picked up my first second-hand vinyl, Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, at Oxfam on George's Street.

"For me, there's a warmth to vinyl that streaming simply doesn't come close to.

"There's also a ritual involved: trawling through second-hand shops to find the record you want, taking it home and sliding it out of the cover, carefully lifting the needle as you place it on the deck. As a listener, you have to invest more in the process, but there's greater pleasure as a result. Digital music has made music so accessible that it's hard to focus on any one artist any more.

"Listening to vinyl forces you to slow down and enjoy the music. In general, I'm a pretty low-tech living kind of girl. I don't own a television, have never been tempted to swap books for a Kindle and am currently attempting 'Facebook Free February'.

"Nowadays, the world is such a noisy place. Even the amount of stuff on my iPhone can sometimes seem overwhelming. Lots of people are getting fed up with the constant pressure to keep up with the latest technology. In an age of constant scrolling and right-clicking, there's something very freeing about turning down the volume for a while, and sitting down to enjoy a good book or record."

When it comes to gaming, Dubliner Daryl Fitzsimons (25) - who runs Facebook blog Irish Retro Gaming - says olden is golden.

"I've been into gaming ever since my older cousin showed me what a Nintendo Game Boy was when I was about five. Twenty years on, my collection of computer games is in the thousands. I have every console from the nineties onwards that's worth having - and some that aren't.

"Much to my girlfriend's relief though, I probably spend more time stockpiling them than actually playing them. Now that 1990s kids have reached a certain age, retro gaming has become really popular in Ireland.

"People are starting to look back fondly on the games they played growing up. Just last week, a remastered version of Grim Fandango - a classic adventure game from 1998 - was released for Playstation 4, for instance. After 17 years, there was something very special about sitting down to play it with a friend.

"Retro gaming can be an expensive hobby: one old game might cost a pittance, while another in the same franchise goes for crazy money.

"Some collectors only chase big money games. For me, it's all about preserving the games I loved as a child, and I've no intention of ever selling my collection."

Back to the Future

Polaroid 300, €89.99, available from www.camera.ie

With Lady Gaga on board as creative director, the iconic instant camera is back with a 'click' for 2015. Just don't forget to buy a little thing called film!

USB Mixtape, €19.95, available from www.gifts.ie

No one wants to go back to the days of cassette tapes, but now at least you can make your loved one a romantic 'mix tape' for Valentine's Day.

Philips OTT2000, €149.99, available from Harvey Norman

One for technophobes and technophiles alike, this reimagining of the brand's classic 1965 record player can 'spin' digital tracks as well as vinyl and CDs.

Nintendo Game Boy, from around €40 on www.gumtree.ie

More than 25 years since first taking school yards by storm, pre-loved Game Boys can be snapped up on sites like Gumtree and eBay - if you're lucky they might throw in Tetris, too!

GPO 746 Rotary Retro Telephone, €68, available from Debenhams

Ring, ring! It's the 1980s calling. Samsung is rumoured to launch its mobile flip phone here later this year but until then, retro types will have to stay close to the landline.

Irish Independent

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