The Worst Gadget I Own

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Jeff Block
The Worst Gadget I Own

Okay, lots of posts for coolest gadget; now let's have some fun at the other end of the spectrum. What's the worst piece of junk in your arsenal. Not something you bought 5 years ago, and hate that you spent the cash, because a better option now exists. I'm talking recent buys.

We need to warn each other off the lemons.

For me it's my Nikon Coolpix camera, about which I'm started a thread asking for advice on a replace them. Read more about why it made the wrong end of the list there.

Steven Jones (not verified)
I'll jump in not because it

I'll jump in not because it will be embarrassing for me but because I hope it will be helpful for others:

- Roomba (robotic vacuum cleaner)
- Philips color Pronto (color programmable touchscreen remote)
- Wireless headphones for home (brand doesn't matter)
- RCA HD DirecTV TV (tuner built-in this 38" tv but no other HD input :-(
- Jabra bluetooth headset (the one with the AAA battery)

I could go on, but I'll stop there.

Eric Daugherty (not verified)
I always read Techlore before

I always read Techlore before I buy gadgets, so I never end up with any lemons.

Ross Johnson
Technically my fiancee owns

Technically my fiancee owns it, but the RCA Lyra RD1080 is a pretty cruddy device - its insistence on digital rights managment means that every audio file you upload gets encrypted on the fly, more than doubling the time it takes to send files over its exceedingly slow USB 1.1 interface. I hate that thing. And she won't let me buy her an iPod...

For now, I think my Apple

For now, I think my Apple AirPort Express is winning this contest of losers. It's configurability and thus usability is very limited, and I was so excited about its potential. Apple whiffed with this one.

Eric Daugherty (not verified)
As the 'proud'? new owner of

As the 'proud'? new owner of an AirPort Express, I mostly agree. It seems like this device has the 'cool' factor because of its multifunctions, but in reality you can probably only use one or maybe two of its features at a time, so it ends up being overpriced.

That being said, I am just using it for wireless audio, and it does the job just fine (assuming you run iTunes or hack it).

Steven Jones (not verified)
I have a AirPort Express for

I have a AirPort Express for several months and I think the biggest advantage is taking it on the road. Because it borrows Apple's slim "brick" design, it packs real nice, no complicated antennas to fold, etc.

The best part was when we checked into one of several adjacent hotel rooms, wired up the AirPort to the hotel's free Internet, and we all enjoyed wireless connections!

See, the hotel room trick was

See, the hotel room trick was exactly the trick I really wanted the AirPort for, but when I plugged it in to the hotel WAN, all I ever got was the blinking amber light. Trying to connect to it wirelessly to check the configuration also failed!

My laptop runs Windows XP - maybe this is a problem in connecting?

This is going to get me

This is going to get me flamed, but I'd have to nominate my iPod. It drives me nuts to think that this thing has become the de facto standard in mp3s. Mine was scuffed two minutes out of the box, I had almost daily crashes as long as I used it, the touch sensitive buttons wouldn't work if I had gloves on (a major problem for this Chicago Boy), the battery had problems from the get-go (which Apple refused to address when I called them), wouldn't let me use it as a basic hard drive (forcing me to use Musicmatch and later iTunes)...

I'm ranting, so I'll stop. I'm shopping for a new mp3 player and while I know Apple has addressed most of my issues, it's too late, they've lost my trust. They did have good commercials though...

Steven Jones (not verified)
Not sure which version of the

Not sure which version of the iPod you are referring to but I will say from having tried them all that there were certainly some big bumps early on. Latest iterations though have fixed many of the problems you mention.

One thing you didn't mention is that the headphones suck. Who cares about looking trendy if the music sounds like crack (inside joke:-). I think Apple should give a rebate to everyone who really cares enough about their music to buy real headphones.

BTW, Will Ferrell's iPod ads were the best.

Jeff Block
Counterbalance... Not that I

Counterbalance... Not that I'm anti-iPod, but if you're looking for an alternative, check out the new MP3 players coming out from Sony...

I had a first generation that

I had a first generation that lasted only a few weeks before dying. I annoyed the group at the Apple store for weeks before getting a second generation that didn't seem to improve things. I almost got a third generation when they released the U2 iPod... but come on ... if you are going to make a black iPod, make it all black please. Black skin with black controls, black LCD showing the allblack readout (with apologies to Douglas Adams and Hotblack Desiato).

Yeah, the headphones sucked, but I didn't mention them because after mp3 players from Archos, Creative and Apple I've decided that all mp3 player headphones suck.

I'm tempted to see what Sony does, now that they've accepted the inevitability of mp3...

Ron Repking (not verified)
My worst gadget is also the

My worst gadget is also the one that I couldn't ever get to work right - my Ipaq 5455 Pocket PC. It sounded so promising at the time and way ahead of the game. Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, Windows Media player, SD expansion slot, touch screen and even fingerprint recognition.

Problem was that after about 2 months of use, I couldn't get it to sync anymore with my computer and the battery kept running out. Got a new battery, but that didn't help. There was something wrong with the device and I fought with support, but couldn't get anywhere because they had no clue. Very disappointing.

Guest (not verified)
The discontinued RadioShack

The discontinued RadioShack IR remote control Eric convinced me to buy.

The idea of the remote was nice but it was a huge remote that did not work well. Additionally, it seemed to 'override' the regular remotes rendering them useless.

Steven Jones (not verified)
I have the same iPAQ Ron had

I have the same iPAQ Ron had problems with but it worked beautifully for me. I used every feature he describes and loved it... for about 3 months. Then I found myself mumbling "Why do I carry this thing around"?

So I'm adding it to my list above. PDAs as a standalone device are dead. With popular convergence devices like the PalmOne's Treo, I get PIM, SD expansion, media player (RealPlayer), touch screen, Bluetooth -- and a freakin' phone. Did I mention the camera, Mr. iPAQ?

I feel a little sorry for PDA owners, maybe we can create a public service announcement on TechLore to warn citizens of the inevitable dead-end that is the standalone PDA. There is probably a reason I have more than seven in my gadget museum - including the HP iPAQ!

Matt Whitlock (not verified)
Years and years ago I worked

Years and years ago I worked at a Radio Shack store. At the time, I was like a kid in a candy store (I was really a nerd in an elctronics store), so I had the opportunity to buy tons of useless crap. I've got a whole box full of this stuff, but here's a few that I can remember off the top of my head.

-Radio Shack FM Radio wrist watch (with digital tuner) - I looked really strange with headphones plugged into my watch. Plus, the way it changes stations is funky. There are two buttons, skip and reset. Skip goes to the next strong station, reset takes you back to the beginning... no readout on the station you're tuning into.

- Radio Shack Personal Data Directory - It's a wacky toy this thing. It holds 75 contacts with up to 2 telephone numbers each. Then, when you want to call someone, you hold it up the the mouthpiece of a touchtone phone and it dials for you. You can also just use it to dial, in case the keypad on the phone you want to call out on is locked. It's been out of the box no more than 3 times.

-Radio Shack 1.3 Ghz Digital Scanner - Regardless of what anyone tells you, listening to police and fire frequencies isn't THAT interesting. I had some fun with it back in the day when people used low frequency cordless phones, but everyone has a 900 digital, 2.4, or 5.8GHz cordless phone these days, which is beyond the range of the scanner. Oh well, another piece for the museum.

As I said, I've got a whole box full of stuff like this somewhere. I'll post my findings if I can ever find that box.

Michael Czyz
A few weeks late to the party

A few weeks late to the party here, but.. (can you tell i'm off today?)

I have a whole class of toys that I keep trying, always to be disappointed. I hate paper. I hate carrying it, I hate the fact that is is essentially write once, and I really, really dislike the effort of typing what I wrote. So, I have this thing for electronic data entry.

So far, i've tried the Crosspad, which was a folio that held a legal pad (or notepad for the small version). You write on the pad using an RF pen and a tablet under the pad records the pen movement. USB (maybe serial?) it up to the pc and you get all your notes. Verdict: bad software, too bulky, nasty ball point pen. Bad juju all around.

Then i got a logitech IO pen. (Tech details) had it for about 2 days until i took it back to BestBuy. Different approach, this one is a pen with a light sensor. You use the pen on special paper that is covered with dots. pen tracks it's movement over the dots, upload and you should be good. Verdict: pen waaay to big, so just not comfortable. OK software, but no good for just keeping the pen with you and taking random notes throughout the day because of the special paper.

So, no dice with either of those devices. There was a bunch of talk about a SmartQuill a while back that sounded really good - basically it was like the IO, but without the need for special paper. the pen had little accelerometers built in that simply sensed how you moved the pen in space. BT announced that they expeced production 'within 2 years' but that was back in '98 or so. (while google's cache still contains the pages, the BT site seems to have lost all signs of the SmartQuill)

The best paper replacement i've used to date is still the Newton..

anything Apex.

anything Apex.


My son saved up his money to buy his own DVD player. What a piece of junk. Whenever you turn it on it shoots the volume all the way up.

Of course when you are 13 - a $40.00 investment is huge, and that was all the DVD player he could afford.

Michael Czyz-

Michael Czyz-

I have the answer for you. It is an Alpha Smart - preferably the Dana.

My son has severe ADHD and has a lot of trouble with writing. He is dyslexic and just hates to write. We tought him to type and the school is renting him an alphasmart. Boy does he love that thing. All of his grades have gone up. I want to get him the DANA - which runs on Palm OS and will keep track of all his work. I will help him write a review on it for my blog this weekend.

Michael Czyz
Meri -

Meri -

Thanks for the tip, but i actually like writing/drawing, i just hate the mess of paper. So i always have my laptop with me for content capture, but i also carry a small pouch of art markers and some >100 brightness copy paper. a tablet would make that less of a hassle, but - tablets today aren't quite there yet.

So I should also say that i've tried small page scanners for importing all the paper, as well as a digital camera for whiteboard capture. still kinda hobbled, but it gets the job mostly done.

I really, really want a tablet with shape recognition and the ability to take sketches, make them into shapes, and use the output directly in visio or a comparable mac product. why isn't there a product that makes the human/digital barrier less of a barrier?

If you actually like writing

If you actually like writing - not a portible solution - but have you looked at any of the products from wacom? I am interested in buying one for the computer animation work I want to do. They are designed for artists and would probably provide the solution that you are looking for.

I have many but since we are

I have many but since we are on radio shack,It is the opti-mouse Supposedly designed for my sony vaio notebook. Install wizard cant find a place to download too. Any help would be greatly appreciated. [email protected] thanks

I realize your question is

I realize your question is old, but it was the closest thing to my problem and I was hoping you could help me out. I have a Coolpix 7900 and it shuts off after every picture. I changed the auto off to 5 min... no difference. Any suggestions?

Thanks- burkb

after longing several years

after longing several years for 1.
saving my pennies, i finally bought a canon xl1s.
boy was i happy when i got it.
until i found out the main board was blown.
haven't even used it yet
and i have a $1079 repair on my hands.
i've pleaded repeatedly to canon for assistence.
TOUGH has been the reply.

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