A guide to put old devices to alternate uses instead of letting them accumulate dirt.
Over the last couple of years, the upgrade cycle of gadgets has become faster and faster. Brands launch upgraded variants of their devices one to two times a year with improved features and superior hardware. This has resulted in people moving to new devices on almost a yearly cycle, especially when it comes to handheld gadgets.
But what happens to your old devices? Some people sell off or give away their old gadgets, but for most others, these old devices are kept in storage. Instead of letting your old devices accumulate dirt, you can put them to alternate uses. Here is a quick guide to help you repurpose your gadgets.
Smartphones take the spot when it comes to how frequently people change them. Unless your smartphone is completely damaged or lost, and that’s your reason for upgrade, then you won’t have a spare phone. However, if you are upgrading your device and your old phone is still functioning correctly; you have the option of multiple alternative uses.
1. Security/Baby camera - One of the most accessible options is to start using your spare smartphone as a security camera or a baby monitor. There are various apps available, but we recommend that iOS users try Cloud Baby Monitor or ManyThing whereas Android users can try AtHome Camera or Security Camera CZ. You install the app in your spare as well as your new phone, and then you can use your new phone to view the feed from the spare phone.
2. White Noise Generator –While smartphones are usually the leading cause for people not sleeping on time; you can use them to help you get to sleep as well. White noise is known to help people to get to sleep better, and you can access them on your smartphone easily. There are several white noise generating apps such as Rain Rain Sleep Sounds, Atmosphere, myNoise or Relax Melodies available for both iOS and Android to soothe you into sleeping faster.
3. Alarm Clock – Instead of setting up and snoozing alarms on your new smartphone, repurpose your old smartphone as a dedicated alarm clock. You can use an advanced app such as AlarmMon (iOS and Android) to setup up your alarms and then use it with a speaker dock to wake you up in the morning as well as set alarms for various things throughout the day.
4. Web camera – The problem with most built-in cameras on laptops is that they offer poor picture quality. This is why it’s a great idea to use your old smartphone as a webcam – it would have a much better camera than your laptop. You can use apps like DroidCam and EpocCam to add the webcam functionality to your smartphone. Just connect the phone to your computer, run the app and make sure to prop up the spare phone on a tripod or a stand.
5. Location Tracker – You can use your old smartphone to keep track of your car’s location. You need to keep a SIM with data active on the phone and then place it in the car. You can then use Find My feature to track the phone’s location at any time. This is handy if you suspect your driver is misusing your car and want to keep a watch instead of investing in a dedicated tracker.
6. Music Jukebox – Your spare phone can be permanently connected to your home speaker setup and used as a Music or radio player. There are multiple audio apps available for iOS and Android in which you can create a personalised playlist or listen to a pre-set radio broadcast. Instead of searching for music or transferring it from one device to another, use the spare smartphone as a dedicated music player. You can even connect it to your car when going on travel.
Tablets are not as common as smartphones, but their usage has picked up in the past few years as education tools. While people don’t tend to cycle through tablets regularly, there are chances that you would have an old tablet lying around somewhere. The significant advantage of the tablet is that you get a large screen, which makes it great for various alternate purposes.
1. EBook Reader – A smartphone’s small screen is not the most ideal for reading long books. However, your spare tablet, on the other hand, is an excellent option for reading. There are various apps available, but we recommend sticking to the Kindle app or the kobo book reader app to start. You can download books straight to your device. You can even use apps such as audible if you prefer audiobooks.
2. Digital Photo Viewer – The large screen of your tablet is great to use as a digital photo frame. You need to copy all your photos to the device or use the ones stored on the cloud. IPad users can get the free LiveFrame app while Android users can go for the Fotoo app. Both apps are great photo slideshow players and can also show current time and date along with the photos. You would need to invest in a cover that lets you keep your tablet in a comfortable viewing angle for it to work best.
Unless you have a fairly old laptop, it would have come with 500GB of storage and have some version of Windows. Usually, working laptops are either sold off or given away to family members. However, in case you have a spare Windows laptop around, then you can use it as a media server or as a retro gaming console.
1. Media Server – The chances are that you would have audio and videos stored in your computer or external drives from the yesteryears. You can repurpose your laptop to act as a media server and stream these stored videos to your phone or your smart TV. This can be quickly done using Plex (www.plex.tv). Install the server on your laptop, set the media directory where all the files are stored and then install the player app on your TV/phone and access them anytime.
2. Retro Gaming Console – While your old laptop may not be great for modern games, it can work very well for retro games. You can get older games on Steam or www.gog.com. You can even head to https://archive.org/ and download classic games from there for your PC. Connect the computer to your TV via video-out and use a wired or wireless joystick controller to enhance the fun.Karan Bajaj is a senior tech journalist based in Delhi.