Gadget graveyard: What tech is doomed?

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CD-ROMs and radios are the gadgets most likely to go extinct, as determined in a "Gadget Graveyard" voting contest. Meanwhile, cameras and desktop computers avoided the same forecast, despite consumers snapping up smartphones and tablets in 2013.

More than 1,700 people participated in person or online by voting "yes" or "no" on whether gadgets would end up in the Gadget Graveyard this year. (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which organized the Gadget Graveyard contest, recruited a ghostly Thomas Edison projection to publicize it at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas.)

The 30-year-old CD-ROM technology received 75 percent "yes" votes from participants. That came as little surprise, given how CD-ROMs have been facing the threat of extinction since the rise of more-portable USB flash drives.

But voters — a mix of IEEE members, engineers, engineering students and CES attendees — seemed more divided over the fate of other gadgets.

Radios came in second on the Gadget Graveyard list with 58 percent "yes" votes, followed by MP3 players with 55 percent, DVDs with 53 percent, and cable boxes with 51 percent. The voting may reflect how consumers have been gravitating toward online streaming or Internet downloads for TV shows, films and music entertainment.

The pessimism toward MP3 players also could gauge people's preference for using their smartphones to listen to music.

Still, smartphones have not completely won over people's hearts and minds as all-in-one mobile devices that can snap pictures and guide people on the go. Voters seemed optimistic about the future of stand-alone cameras and GPS systems — those devices got "no" votes of 75 percent and 58 percent, respectively, regarding their chances of ending up in the junk heap.

Voters also saved desktop computers from the Gadget Graveyard, with 62 percent voting "no" even as tablets and laptops rise in popularity for businesses and homeowners.

Several paper-based items topped the list of "gadgets" most likely to live another year, based on the percentage of "no" votes. They included printers (81 percent), printed money (74 percent) and even spiral-bound notebooks (64 percent) — a sign that futuristic trends such as a cashless society or electronic notebooks remain far from the mainstream.

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