Cash for IT Clunkers?

If there was a program for outdated IT products, which IT clunkers would be the most popular trade-ins? Here are some nominations and trade-in suggestions.


Want to get paid to ditch Vista? Here's your chance!

One of the government's more popular programs to stimulate the economy this year has been its "Cash for Clunkers" initiative where the government gives car buyers up to $4,500 to trade in their old gas guzzlers for newer, more fuel-efficient cars. This got us thinking about what would happen if the government were to set up a similar program for outdated and antiquated IT products — and more specifically, which IT clunkers would be the most popular trade-ins. In this slideshow we'll post our nominations for the most likely IT clunkers and suggest good replacements for each one.


Microsoft Windows Vista

The problems with Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system have been multitudinous, from compatibility problems with IPv6 to software updates that that break programs to default settings that leave gaping security holes. All of this and more has led to poor ratings from corporate computer users, who reported that they were more satisfied with the performance of Microsoft Windows XP than with Vista.

Trade in for: Windows 7, which is already crushing Vista's preorder sales.

Also see: The 9 worst Microsoft products ever


IBM's G51 CRT monitor

There are lots of anachronistic computer monitors hanging around IT departments, but few of them can claim to be legitimate fire hazards. IBM's G51 CRT monitor earned that dubious distinction in 2003 when IBM and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that they were recalling 56,000 of the monitors that were manufactured and sold in the late '90s.

Trade in for: The Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP 24-Inch Wide-Screen LCD Monitor or the Lenovo L215p LCD Widescreen Monitor, which PC World rates as two of the top-rated models on the market.


Dell's hazardous laptop batteries

And speaking of potentially flammable hardware, who could forget Dell's laptop battery debacle of 2006, when the company had to recall an estimated 4.2 million laptop batteries. The trouble started when Dell received six reports of batteries overheating and causing property damage. Thankfully, no one was injured by any overheated batteries.

Trade in for: Any Dell battery that won't set your house ablaze.


V.92 dial-up modems

In the early part of the decade, the dial-up modem industry made one last push for relevancy when it issued the V.92 dial-up modem standard. But while the V.92 did improve speeds for dial-up users, it couldn't slow down dial-up's death spiral, as a recent Pew survey showed that only 7% of Americans use dial-up connections in their homes.

Trade in for: If you're still stuck on a dial-up connection, chances are you live in an area where neither cable nor DSL services are available. Check to see if any enterprising ISPs in your neighborhood have started deploying WiMAX technology so you can at least get a high-speed wireless connection.


The Barbie and Hot Wheels PC

This was one of those ideas that only could have been developed during the madness of the dot-com era. Basically, Mattel thought it could take advantage of the personal computing craze by marketing PCs designed after is popular Barbie and Hotwheels toy lines and selling them for $600 (yes, really) a piece. These PCs were so terrible that they cannot be described in English. The closest we can get is the Klingon word "vonlu," which is the rough equivalent of "epic fail."

Trade in for: If, by some small chance, your company CIO went on a drug-fueled bender down in Vegas and ordered a few crates of these, we recommend trading them in for any one of PC World's best laptops for less than $1,000.



Over the years, AOL has provided plenty of reasons for its customers to leave, which is precisely what they've done over the past decade. AOL had nearly 27 million subscribers as recently as 2002; since then, it has seen its subscriber totals plummet to less than one-third of that. This is particularly amazing when you consider that some AOL customers have had better luck convincing Satan to give them back their souls than in convincing AOL to cancel their service.

Trade in for: Should you manage to escape AOL's clutches, we recommend subscribing to any DSL or cable service. Things will get better no matter what.


Microsoft BOB

Easily one of the most widely-ridiculed tech products of all time, Microsoft BOB was an attempt to make a simple GUI system that would be accessible to non-techies. Of course, BOB dumbed down computing so much that even paperweights and potted plants felt Microsoft had insulted their intelligence. When you add in the fact that BOB featured an annoying cartoon guide dog that put even Clippy to shame& well, you've got a recipe of one of the biggest debacles in computing history.

Trade in for: If you're still stuck using Microsoft BOB, then there's nothing even our creative minds can do to help you. We recommend switching to a career that's more attuned to your skill set, such as becoming a full-time guinea pig for experimental medical research.


Which clunkers would YOU turn in?

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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