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What to do with old phones, cameras, laptops and tablets

Electronic waste is a huge problem that is getting worse: We now produce 21% more e-waste worldwide than we did five years ago. When it comes to gadgets like phones, your brand new model will probably be replaced in a year, and sometimes even that.

That’s why it’s worth thinking twice about what you do with your old gadgets when something new arrives. You may be surprised at how many ways you can reconfigure an old hardware item, even if it is a few years old and has become too slow to perform its original function properly.

These are some of our favorite ideas, but there are others – with a little imagination you can come up with something new.

Turn an old phone or tablet into a security camera

When a smartphone has outlived its usefulness, do not throw it away. There are many working technologies out there that can perform other roles. One of these roles is as a security camera, which provides a permanently included video feed that you can use using another phone from anywhere else in the world.

To set this up, you̵

7;ll probably need a tripod or stand, unless you want to get creative with books and ornaments. You’ll also need some software: Manything and Alfred offer Android and iOS apps for work, and there are others. It’s just a matter of installing the appropriate application and following the instructions.

This also works for tablets, of course, although setting and positioning them can be a bit more deceptive due to the extra size. Keep in mind that many phones and tablets are now waterproof, so it can even work outdoors – although the mobile device you choose will have to stay plugged in at all times.

Turn an old phone or tablet into a multimedia remote

In the last few years, we have seen an influx of new wireless protocols for streaming and bandwidth. Think about how many ways you need to stream media wirelessly now, including Apple AirPlay, Google’s Chromecast system, the apps Sonos offers with its speakers, and more.

What it means for your old phone or tablet is that you can use it as a special media remote or hub. Keep an old iPad next to your Apple TV to broadcast shows and movies, or keep an old Android tablet next to your Chromecast Spotify streaming key or YouTube playlists to it.

This frees up your phone, which means less battery life, and also means that anyone in the family can pick up the device and start streaming without worrying about logging in or locking screens.

Manage your Spotify devices using a special device.

David Neald via Spotify

Use an old laptop as a media center

In a related note, old laptops can be reassigned as media hubs that store your videos and music ready to stream around your home. It’s an easy task, so it’s suitable for older hardware, which means you can save a lot of space on your hard drive and your brand new laptop.

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