Kids these days. With their cell phones and Bluetooth headsets, they never understand that when their parents or grandparents talked on the phone, they had to sit in one place inside their house and talk. They could move around in a radius of only about three feet from the phone, which had to be plugged into the wall to work. And get this: the handset weighed almost a pound!
A phone accessories vendor is offering a product to teach these kids a lesson in humility and let them know what it was like to talk on a phone that you couldn’t use while skateboarding. Enter the Retro Handset from YUBZ (pronounced “Why You Busy?”). For $26.95, the Retro Handset is a replica of the handsets from phones of the 1960s and 1970s, including the coiled cord that stretched, although only so far. At the end of the cord is an adapter to plug into a variety of cell phones, including Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Nokia and others (alas, not my brand, Palm).
With the Retro Handset, you can still talk on your cellphone but, at the same time, pretend you’re a character on “Mad Men.”
The handsets come in a variety of colors, just as phones did in that era after years of coming only in black, like Model Ts. I think I’d go with the red phone so I can pretend I’m President Kennedy on the hot line with Nikita Kruschev of the Soviet Union in 1962.
While I understand the novelty of the Retro Handset, I’m not sure of the practicality of it. The photo above shows a woman holding her phone in one hand and the handset in the other. How does that help? Another photo on the YUBZ Web site shows a guy holding the handset while the cell phone is clipped to his belt — and he’s skateboarding — so that’s an option. But you’d have to carry that handset around with you wherever you go, also not practical. But that could be the price users are willing to pay to be retro chic.
The Retro Handset also comes with an adapter that plugs into a computer so you can use it to talk on Internet phone services like Skype. Okay, but that’s one less hand available to type on the computer while talking.
However, YUBZ does tout one practical benefit of Retro Handset: it’s “radiation-free.” Concerns persist that prolonged use of cell phones, especially the times in which you hold the phone directly to your ear, could increase a person’s risk for brain tumors. The Retro Handset allows you to talk but hold the phone away from your head.
YUBZ also makes present day accessories like Bluetooth headsets and a Bluetooth speakerphone appliance, but the Retro Handset is largely for fun.
Retro design has been popular in recent years in everything from cars (the Volkswagen New Beetle, Ford Mustang) to fashion (bell-bottom jeans) to ballparks (Camden Yards in Baltimore, Miller Park in Milwaukee), so why not phones?
Enjoy the novelty of the Retro Handset until it wears off.