Las Vegas: The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is all about the latest smartphones, tablet computers and other devices. But what about the old gadgets? Don`t they get any love?
Actually, one machine at the show is designed to help recycle gadgets, giving old phones a fitting end, or a better home.
Drop your phone into the EcoATM, and the machine will pay you what it believes the handset is worth. The cupboard-sized machine has a large touch screen and a big metal "mouth" where you can place your old phone or MP3 player. It takes pictures of the device to figure out what kind of shape it`s in. Then, you choose one of the machine`s many cables to connect your device. The machine will figure out if the device`s internals are working.
When its analysis is complete, it gives you a quote on the spot, based on what a network of hundreds of electronics-recycling companies are willing to pay for it. If you accept, it spits out cash. In a demonstration by EcoATM founder Bill Bowles, it said a Verizon iPhone 4 was worth $221.
An older phone might not be worth reselling, but the machine will take it anyway, and give you a dollar. The company will melt down the phone in an environmentally friendly fashion to extract the precious metals from it.
WHY IT`S HOT: It`s tough to recycle old electronics. Collection bins are few and far between, though some electronics stores accept items for recycling. You can sell newer phones on eBay, but it`s a bit of a hassle.
THE UPSHOT: A fast way to deal with old electronics that keeps your conscience clean and might give you a bit of extra money.
THE DOWNSIDE: The EcoATM`s quote probably won`t match what you can get for your item on eBay. On the other hand, you avoid eBay`s seller fees. You have to physically go to the ATM. It`s a big machine, about twice the size of a regular drugstore ATM. It has a lot of complicated moving parts, and could be prone to breakage.
AVAILABILITY: There are about fifty of them deployed right now, mostly in grocery stores and malls in California. The San Diego-based company behind the machine says it plans to have about 500 out at the end of this year, spreading eastward.