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January 2014 Retro Gaming Article


January 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rock the new millennium with a new polaroid camera and a brick-phone fit for Crockett's Testarossa

Miami Vice TV show logo When Crockett & Tubbs teamed up on the streets of Miami beween 1984 and 1989, I was hooked! Friday night parties raged hard on either side of my apartment, but for that one hour I was watching Miami Vice and nothing could pull me away. When the white Testarossa became his ride I was infatuated and pretty stoked about that car phone.

Miami Vice TV show logo About 5 years later I dove into web development. This was a time when knowledge of HTML was tantamount to being a programmer - not to be confused with today's toddlers who possess a working knowledge of HTML5 and CSS3. I bought an Apple QuickTake digital camera which gave me the ability to document my passions via digital photography and easily add photos to my website.

By today's standards, the quickTake took abysmal photos using Apple's proprietary PICT format. I guess the Joint Photographic Experts were still Grouping. I've never owned a Polaroid camera, but I was convinced - as a child - that waving a photo in the air was pure magic.

Retro Products in the New Millenium

Imagine my surprise when a casual surf through the web yielded both a retro-style brick-phone and a new polaroid camera. Let the 80's roll on!

The Brick cell phone from Binatone communciations The Brick cell phone from Binatone communications - camera-free and offline... all the time! It works in 2 modes: pair it to your smartphone and use it as a blueTooth handset or insert your phone's sim card and it becomes a GSM phone complete with Snake Game and FM radio. This thing screams RETRO!

View the Brick's marketing site: Meet the Brick.
Check out The Brick's YouTube Channel.
Polaroid Socialmatic digital camera with front & rear facing lenses and wifi Polaroid Socialmatic digital camera with front & rear facing lenses and wifi for instant social media distribution - and apparently selfies.

Back in July 2012 we got wind of a Polaroid-like camera centered around the Instagram social network. It was a concept at the time, but one that we liked. It looks to be launching under Polaroid as the SocialMatic digital camera.

I was skeptical of cameras with built-in wifi. They seemed like a gimmick for those less inclined to figure out how to do things like "upload". After delving deeper into such social voids, it seems as though the quickness of photo posting via wifi opens up real time scenarios that would be quite interesting.

The Brick phone from Binatone

The Brick phone by Binatone

Binatone was founded in the UK in 1958 as an importer and distributor of consumer electronics. Now, you can't use the term "consumer electronics" without wondering if there aren't a few games stashed in that moniker. Or course there are, but lets dig into some history first! :)

Binatone started out importing radios and soon grew to include world receivers, clock radios, cassette players and audio towers. Binatone entered the TV games market in 1974. In 1978 Binatone had the best selling TV game in the UK. In 1980 they introduced their HipFi portable cassette player which outsold the Sony Walkman in the UK market. The next move was to landline phones once the telecomm market had been deregulated. All of this led to the wireless market and this insanely cool retro 80's Brick phone! It's not quite a cell phone in the traditional sense.

The Brick works in 2 modes. Pair it with your iPhone or Android and use it as a bluetooth handset or insert your sim card and convert it into a simplistic 2G phone. It lacks most of the modern features of today's phones, but it makes up for it with an 80's mega cool factor.

For example it's 160x128-pixel display on the 1.8-inch LCD screen lets you enjoy a round of Snake. Snake is a simple game found on many simpler devices and a favorite of fledgling programmers who can learn from it's mechanics. Nokia was renown for putting Snake on their phones. The Brick also has a torch flashlight, FM radio and you can add a microSD card up to 32GB. The mammoth size plays into the 80's vibe, but also affords space for a huge battery that touts a month of standby time and 14 hours of talk time.

The Polarid Socialmatic digital camera

Coming to market in early 2014 the Socialmatic blends some old-school with the modern world. True to the Polaroids of the past, this one will print out a small picture complete with a QR code to let friends easily access your photos from Polaroid servers. Built-in wifi lets you instantly connect photos to various social networks.

It's 14Mpx Front Camera takes most of your pictures, but they also include a 2Mpx Rear Camerafor the obligatory selfies that are oddly popular these days. The Socialmatic has a 4.3" Touchscreen, 4GB Internal Storage, Stereo Speakers, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. What else could you need?

With many of these features present on smart phones, some are questioning the need for cameras at all... let alone wifi enabled ones. This has been a common criticism of such devices at this year's CES. I question the printed out image with QR code and the cost of such a feature when the whole digital revolution is about moving away from such things. Will the QR code aspect be enough to intrigue consumers? Hard to say.

My main concern was the Yoda-like wording of the company's website. I'm hoping there's a Quality Assurance team who will update such things.

Polaroid Socialmatic Yoda headlines #StarWars?

Binatone's TV Game Era

Lets go back to that electronics history of Binatone. As I poked around trying to find out how their Brick Phone came to be, I found a few old TV games. They were pong-esque sports titles. These retro gems were released around 1977 - 1978.

Binatone TV Master Mark IV game box Binatone's TV Master Mark IV game box. These consoles (additionally: TV Master 4 plus 2, TV Master MK 6, TV Master MK 8, TV Master MK 10) were released in the UK for black & white TVs. Each console was later released in a similar form factor, but supported color TVs.
Binatone TV Master Mark IV game Binatone's TV Master Mark IV game offered several Pong-like games: squash, squash practice, football, tennis. The paddles are small, with a single dial. They connect through ports on the face of the system, making them detachable. For some reason,there is an on/off switch for the sound which likely means that the games' sound came from the console speaker, not the TV's speaker.

Binatone TV Master Mark IV game Binatone's TV Master Mark IV game and controllers.
Binatone TV Master Mark 10 game Binatone's TV Master Mark 10 game.

Jan 21 Update:
My Brick phone was delivered today and already it makes me smile and I'm excited to figure out all the crazy things it can do!

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