Tech: how old is too old?

Tech: how old is too old?
This one might be obsolete, we'll grant you

I tend to celebrate big life events by spending money I don't have on tech I don't need.

Anniversary of stopping smoking? New gadget time! Birthday? New gadget time! Weather slightly less rubbish than anticipated? New gadget time!

So the imminent arrival of my second child should have electronics retailers throughout the land rubbing their hands with glee, because new babies inevitably mean new cameras.

Not this time. I went on eBay instead and spent £70 on a prime lens for my Sony DSLR. The camera may be ancient in tech terms - it's seven years old now - but it's still a brilliant bit of kit that takes amazing photos.

All it needed was a relatively cheap second-hand lens to make it perfect for taking baby photos. You can pick up the same camera as mine in good nick on eBay for £95. That's nothing.

New lens, new lease of life

New lens, new lease of life

That makes me wonder what other tech I've retired before its time. An old HD video camera has been gathering dust for years. There's a 10-year-old iBook in the loft that still runs, albeit helped considerably by duct tape on the charger, and I think there's a PowerBook up there too. I have old PVRs and God knows what else in boxes and bags I haven't looked at for ages.

It can't all be obsolete, can it?

Old is the new new

I sometimes wonder if the main reason I buy new shiny things is through sheer laziness.

I might not have bought a brand-new camera this time but I certainly thought about it. But while a better camera would undoubtedly produce better photos, the weak link in my photography has never been the camera. It's been me.

Whether it's a music app or a digital SLR, if it means I can get better results with the minimum of effort I'm usually sold - even if what I've already got could do exactly the same thing if I just spent a bit more time learning how to make the most of it.

Maybe cameras are the exception, because what matters there are the optics rather than the processor.

But the iBook in the loft was a perfectly good machine for word processing, web browsing, listening to music and doing email a decade or so ago. Surely the hardware is capable of the same now?

The problem there isn't the physical device but the software it runs: Apple stopped supporting it a long time ago, so it won't run the latest browsers or surf securely.

But there's undoubtedly a Linux that would give it a whole new lease of life, or at least rescue it from redundancy.

I'd love to know your answers to the old-tech conundrum. Have you upgraded your PC's innards so often the only original feature is the case? Have you found a use for old hardware that doesn't involve being a file server, a plant pot or a picture frame? Have you made the Lazarus of laptops?

What's the oldest kit that you're still using? Let us know in the comments below.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.