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Low tech, lower price

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I'm thrilled to hear that DVDs may be on their way out. That means it's time to start collecting DVDs.

That's my pattern—I wait for a technology to become outdated, for the prices to come down, for stores to start unloading their stock, and then I move in. I accumulate the hardware, start collecting the works, and pretend I'm living years earlier, when my $200 investment would have cost $2,000. I imagine how luxurious it would have felt to be playing Edison 78s, LPs, eight-tracks, reel-to-reels, cassettes, videos, DVDs, whatever, back when they were coming out, when only the wealthiest could afford them. Sometimes, it costs me access—I didn't start buying CDs until a few years ago because I was sure they were a passing fad in the 1980s, the same way my dad would never buy a Polaroid camera because he kept waiting for them to perfect the technology.

There are tremendous advantages to waiting. For next to no money, you can get works you'd never have the chance to watch otherwise. Take VHS cassettes, for instance. My friends and I are always on the lookout for the best, weirdest offerings. Was it the $2 copy of Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke bought at FYE or Elvis Presley's horrendous 1967 Clam Bake bought for $2.50 at Big Lots? (Answer: Clam Bake; there's one incredible number filled with bivalves and bikinis easily worth the price.) I still shoot pictures with a 1978 Nikon F2—state of the art at the time, and now you can get great accessories cheap (like an f1.2, 50mm Nikon lens for under a hundred bucks).

Because I never invested heavily in CDs, I still mostly play vinyl. It means I never had to replace my collection. And you can get incredible used records for a buck or two—vintage jazz, tons of rock and lots of classical.

After a while, we crave those old technologies. Audiophiles talk about the warmth of records compared to CDs. Recording engineers use software that infuses vinyl's tones into digital recordings. And the hippest indie rock bands put out vinyl editions of their CDs. Ultimately, the art and the machines become collectible—musicians and audiophiles hoard tube amps, and I'm sure there are people out there collecting eight-track players and black-and-white TVs. Maybe it's just that we're nostalgic for the technology we grew up with—I took a trip once in a $300,000, 2005 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud that went to great pains to hide its digital innards behind analog displays.

So I look forward to coming across DVDs like my friend Bruce's latest video finds: High School Confidential starring John Drew Barrymore, Mamie Van Doren, Jackie Coogan and Jerry Lee Lewis, and Drag Strip Girl ("She's 18, she's blonde and she's burning rubber"). Now, those are movies worth waiting for.

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