23 Things in Your Home That Are About to Become Obsolete
Bye bye, Blu-rays.
Just a few decades ago, Americans were happily driving Ford Pintos, listening to music on 8-tracks, and typing their important documents on word processors. Now, all of those antiquated technologies have been replaced by smarter, safter, and faster versions, including the household items we use every day. So, which objects in your home are certain to become little more than a distant memory? Read on to discover which of your household staples are destined to go the way of the dodo.
Incandescent light bulbs
The push for more environmentally-friendly bulbs—like CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp) and LEDs (light emitting diodes)—has been going on for some time now. But you’ll still find incandescent bulbs on the shelves of virtually every hardware and home goods store in the U.S.
That said, multiple states have backed legislation calling for the phase-out of incandescent bulbs. And the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act limited the production of common household incandescents, with additional regulations taking effect in 2020. So those incandescent bulbs you bought at Home Depot are likely just old stock being sold off, not ones that have been recently manufactured. And before you know it, incandescent bulbs will be off the shelves for good.
DVD and Blu-ray players
As streaming services add more and more movies and TV shows to their lineups, the need for DVD and Blu-ray players will continue to wane until they’re entirely obsolete. It’s clear that DVD and Blu-ray manufacturers are picking up on the hint, too—in early 2019, Samsung confirmed to Forbes that it was getting out of the Blu-ray player game for good.
With 95 percent of Americans owning a cell phone, a landline is hardly the necessity it once was. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of U.S. adults with cell phones and no landline went from under five percent in 2003 to more than 50 percent in 2016. And it won’t be long before the home phone goes the way of the dinosaurs.
That loud, clunky chime you hear whenever your doorbell rings may soon be a thing of the past. Video doorbells, like the Ring, don’t only give owners added security; they are also easier to maintain than their hardwired counterparts. Considering Amazon bought Ring for $1 billion in 2018, it seems the rise in video doorbell technology is only going to grow.
There are numerous problems with traditional house keys: They bend, they break, they get stuck in locks, and, if you happen to lose yours, you’re putting your safety at risk. The good news? The advent of keyless smart locks will soon make them obsolete. A report from consulting company Strategy Analytics reveals that smart lock sales are poised to top 26 million units by 2023, with sales upwards of $2.4 billion.
It won’t be long before your smartphone is the only thing you need to control your TV. Smartphone-enabled TVs are already becoming increasingly popular—the devices’ market share jumped to 70 percent of TV shipments in 2018, up from under 50 percent in 2017.
And industry experts say it won’t be long before remotes are done for. “TV remotes are an antiquated piece of technology. They don’t embed software. They’re ugly. And they’re unhelpfully proprietary,” Gilles Boisselet, creative partner at global production partner UNIT9, told Forbes.
If you’re constantly replacing the charging cables for your phone, you’re not alone. Finding a frayed lightning cable is such a ubiquitous experience that there are entire Tumblrs dedicated to memorializing fallen cords (RIP).
And they’ll be deader than ever soon, now that wireless chargers are increasingly becoming the technology of choice. Both Apple and Android phones are now capable of powering up wirelessly, so those traditional plug-in chargers are likely to be a thing of the past in just a few years.
It likely comes as little surprise to cord-cutting consumers that streaming services are rapidly replacing traditional media formats. Hulu announced it had added eight million new subscribers in 2018 alone, bringing its total number to 25 million—a 50 percent year-over-year increase. Meanwhile, Netflix had more than 139 subscribers as of early 2019.
With streaming services offering prices significantly lower than cable companies, while still allowing viewers to pause and return to their shows as they see fit, it’s no wonder DVRs are becoming less popular. TiVo has seen significant losses in recent years, and Bay Area DVR startup Simple TV shut down in 2017, just four years after it launched.
External hard drives
Who needs clunky external hard drives when cloud storage provides an inexpensive alternative that frees up a significant amount of desk space? For just $2.99 a month, you can get 200 gigabytes of iCloud storage space. Plus, unlike a traditional hard drive, you don’t have to worry about losing all your data if you drop it or spill some coffee on your desk.
That bulky stereo system that once occupied an entire corner of your living room is a thing of the past. Bluetooth speakers—many of which are a fraction of the size of their wired counterparts—have made traditional stereo systems all but obsolete, and the death knell is sounding for those that remain on the market.
Manufacturers are feeling the heat, too—in 2014, Pioneer, a major player in the home audio game for more than half a century, announced it would stop making stereo parts.
Audio baby monitors
For families who have children and live in larger homes, the baby monitor is somewhat of a necessity. But audio-only monitors likely aren’t long for this world. With the proliferation of WiFi-enabled video monitors that you can control with your smartphone, there’s no need to carry around a clunky walkie-talkie that does little more than amplify your baby’s screams.
Multipurpose appliances, like the Instant Pot, have seen huge surges in popularity in recent years. In fact, a New York Times article reveals that the company’s sales have more than doubled each year since 2011. And that’s because they save money and space, which we have less and less of.
According to a report from RENTCafé and research firm Yardi Matrix, new apartments, on average, are five percent smaller than they were just 10 years ago. So those space-wasting single-use appliances are sure to be a thing of the past in the near future.
Central air conditioning
Your current home air conditioning system could be obsolete before you know it. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a phase-out of the refrigerant HCFC-22, which is commonly used in air conditioning systems, with production ceasing completely by 2020.
And while some homes may make the switch to new forms of refrigerant, energy-saving ductless mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps are rapidly gaining popularity. In fact, sales of mini-splits grew 16 percent between 2016 and 2017 alone.
Why wake up to the jarring sound of an alarm clock when you’ve already got your phone on your nightstand, waiting to rouse you with the dulcet tones of whatever album U2 snuck onto your device?
As people embrace the Marie Kondo method and eagerly ditch anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” the cumbersome, slow, always-breaking fax machine is sure to be on the brink of obsolescence.
They may still be a staple in countless offices, but people are using less paper in a bid for conservation. And scanning and transmitting documents by phone or computer is easier than ever, making it seem unlikely that anyone will still have a fax in their home office in ten years’ time.
Much like external hard drives, thumb drives are becoming increasingly obsolete. With free online file storage services, like Google Drive, and easy access to inexpensive cloud-based storage, there are fewer reasons than ever to hang on to these easily-losable devices.
With practically all professional and personal communications done digitally these days, it won’t be long before the computer printer is gone for good.
HP, once a leader in the printing industry, has seen consumers buying less and less of what was once its staple product. The company’s sales were down $11.13 billion between 2008 and 2016.
Checkbooks are a nuisance: They’re easy to lose, difficult to tear evenly, and who hasn’t forgotten to sign one? Plus, the wealth of information they bear makes it incredibly easy for anyone who gets their hands on your checkbook to steal your identity.
It’s no wonder businesses and individuals alike are increasingly relying on digital asset transfers instead of paper checks. According to the Federal Reserve, the number of check payments in the United States fell by 2.5 billion between 2012 and 2015.
While having a stack of magazines on your nightstand or a magazine rack in your living room was once commonplace, print magazines are shuttering left and right. In recent years, household staples like Redbook and Glamour have ceased print production, just two more casualties in the long-term decline of print media.
Lugging a bulky vacuum from room to room, unplugging and re-plugging it as you go, has been a headache (and backache) for decades. And finally, vacuum manufacturers are picking up on the annoyance traditional corded vacuums are causing their customers. Not only has there been a significant uptick in the number of companies making robot vacuums, in 2018, Dyson announced that it would cease making corded vacuums entirely.
If your files are primarily digital, who needs a physical place to store them? Not only are file cabinets expensive, clunky, and overwhelmingly unattractive, it takes very little for a burglar to get into one and steal your personal information.
Oil heat is expensive and it’s a major source of environmental pollution. With more eco-friendly alternatives, like natural gas and heat pumps, becoming readily available, it won’t be long before your furnace system is obsolete.
As laptops, smartphones, and tablets become lighter and more powerful, the need to have a TV at home is waning. According to the Energy Information Administration, the number of TVs in U.S. homes has declined significantly since 2008, while the number of homes with no television sets has risen. And for more on how different things are today, check out 50 Ways Life Has Changed in the Last 50 Years.
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