Q: I have a box full of 8-track tapes. Do they still make and sell 8-track players? If so, what would be your recommendation, and where can someone purchase one?
A: Believe it or not, yours is the first 8-track question sent to this column since it started 18 years ago. And even though I know a lot about old formats, I have never owned an 8-track system. Some research was in order.
I found a small but very dedicated group of 8-track fans who still enjoy the format. There are even a few independent record labels issuing new music on 8-track tapes.
However, there are no 8-track players being produced today. The closest you can get is a refurbished version of the iconic Panasonic RQ-830S Dynamite TNT player, available on eBay for around $250.
Before you spend that much, you should consider whether 8-track collecting will be a hobby or if you just want to listen to the music you have now.
If it's the latter, taking a chance on a less expensive used player might be a better option. These include component players that connect to a home sound system.
You also might want to consider just replacing the tapes with used CDs of the same albums, if available. It would likely cost less than the $250 refurbished player.
Small but mighty
Don't be misled by the size of the Anker Nano wall charger. But you can be amazed by the low price — $16.99 — that makes it, as they say, a no-brainer, whether buying it for yourself or as a gift.
It's the same size as the charger Apple includes with new iPhones, but the size is about all they have in common. The Anker Nano is a 20-watt charger, a far cry from the minuscule 5 watts of the standard Apple charger. An example that illustrates the difference: If your phone is dead and you charge it for 30 minutes with the 5W Apple charger, you get a 17% charge. With the Anker Nano, that same 30 minutes yields a whopping 53% charge. In these pandemic times when people are spending less time in public places where they can plug in their phones and other devices, it's best to make the most of that charging time.
The Anker Nano has a USB-C connection and must be used with a USB-C to Lightning cable, which is included with most new iPhones. If you do not have this cable, you can get one from many sources, including Anker, which sells a nice one for the same $16.99 price as the charger.
The Anker Nano also can be used to charge iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches. And with the appropriate USB-C cable, it can charge most any other device with a USB connection, including Android phones, earphones, Bluetooth speakers and power banks. It can be found on Amazon or at us.anker.com.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.