SLIDESHOW

Droolworthy modern tech with retro design

Technology evolves, but maybe sometimes it shouldn't. These combinations of classic design and modern technology produce beautiful products that you probably can't afford. But looking is free.

Something old, something new

Technology gets sleeker and sleeker, but not all of us are prepared to live in a Minority Report–inspired future yet.

We've dug up ten technology jewels that appear to be stuck in time, wrapping modern technology in a retro shell.

It's almost as if a time traveler is playing tricks on us, but these are truly beautiful items to have around your home or office.

Credit: specimenproducts.com
Specimen 50-Watt Tube Amp

We could devote an entire slideshow to products built by Specimen. This company's hand-built, custom-order products have long been a favorite among musicians, from members of the bands Blue Oyster Cult and Wilco to Andrew Bird and Death Cab for Cutie.

This unique 50-watt amp has a deliberately simple design—featuring just a tone knob and a volume knob—but its aluminum and black-walnut casing is built to last.

Specimen 50-Watt Tube Amp | $3250

Credit: RH.com
iPhone Gramophone

This beautiful piece from designer Matt Richmond looks more like an artistic display for your iPhone than an real amplification system.

The design doesn't employ an electrically powered speaker. The increased volume arises entirely from the horn’s natural acoustic properties.

Edison would be proud.

Restoration Hardware iPhone Gramophone | $250

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Akai EIE Pro audio interface

If there’s one thing sadly missing from modern design, it’s analog meters.

Sure, these imprecise measurement tools are superfluous in an all-digital recording environment, where the same information is displayed on your computer. But it's still gratifying to plug in your instruments and see those tiny needles bounce to life.

Well, the Akai EIE Pro has not one but two analog meters to complement its four audio inputs. We have no idea how the EIE Pro sounds, but it certainly dressed nicely for the interview.

Akai EIE Pro | $250

Credit: soundpauli.org
Soundpauli Speaker

Soundpauli seems to have a thing for taking old speakers, rebuilding them with new tech, giving them a fresh coat of paint, and then slapping a handle on top for portability.

That's not meant to sound dismissive. Soundpauli's custom-order speakers stand out, with subtle pops of color accenting classic designs.

It offers the perfect way to listen to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album at the beach.

Design by Soundpauli

Note: only a few of the things Soundpauli makes are actually for sale.

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Kee Desk Phone iPhone Dock

Kee promises that with its Desk Phone Dock, “You can make and receive calls like you did with an ordinary wired phone.”

Finally, after all these years of freedom, a company gives consumers what they really want: a short, tangle-prone accordion cable to anchor them to their desk while they chat on an iPhone.

But it looks great, doesn't it?

Kee Desk Phone Dock | $150

Credit: WASDkeyboards.com
WASD 'Old School Remix' mechanical keyboard

The clackety-clack tactile response of mechanical keyboards is enjoying a renaissance these days, but not everyone can get their hands on an IBM Model M.

Luckily WASD offers full keyboard customization with Cherry MX switches, and its “Old School Remix” layout comes complete with beige keys and a red Esc key.

Old-school cool. That's all we're saying.

WASD Custom Keyboard | $140

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Olympus PEN E-P5

Based on the Olympus F series, which the company manufactured in the 1960s, the PEN E-P5 hides its modern tech—including Wi-Fi—in a classically styled, chrome-and-black casing.

Olympus even altered its current logo styling especially for this camera so that it would match the typeface used on the F series.

Olympus PEN E-P5 | $1000

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Crosley Payphone

Payphones are an endangered species, so do your part and snag one of these 1950s-style units from Crosley for your home.

You don’t have to pay for calls the old-fashioned way, but the unit does store deposited change in a bank at the base.

Regrettably Crosley put a modern ringer into the retro-style device. Still, the phone undeniably adds diner charm to a room.

Crosley CR56 Payphone | $110

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Brionvega RadioFonografo (rr226)

Brionvega’s rr226 is based on the original RadioFonografo (rr126) from 1965—the first multimedia station in the world to combine a radio, an amplifier, and a turntable in a single device.

The rr226 updates the classic “smiling robot” design with a CD player, but the company still hand-crafts each unit in Italy.

Brionvega RadioFonografo (rr226) | $7125

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Pyle Classical Trumpet Horn Phonograph

This phonograph/turntable from Pyle begs to be displayed in a cozy study, with a decanter of scotch on the end table and a stack of books on the leather couch.

The digital displays are a bit disappointing, but the device earns a pass by also playing CDs, cassettes, and even MP3s (through a USB port on the front left).

Pyle Classical Trumpet Horn Phonograph | $785