It is ironic that despite working in IT for most of my working life, I have very little enthusiasm for gadgets and computer screens when I pull on my slippers at night. Familiarity breeds contempt and life on the ‘bleeding edge’ is just too frustrating.
However, I do like a good list and recently pondered the worst pieces of tech that I have ever had the misfortune to own. Here goes…
#5 Microsoft Zune – not the proven and cool iPod for me 8 years ago. I thought the boys from Redmond could do a much better job with an open file format (MP3). It was certainly ‘different’ and I think that is about the only positive thing one could say about it. Microsoft haven’t got a great track record in hardware and this clunky-looking oddity was consigned to the bin within 6 months.
#4 O2 XDA – the original Windows phone. It actually looked quite stylish and next to the contemporary Nokias, was a technicolour vision of the future. Unfortunately, the interface required a stylus to operate and the office applications were fiddly to use. However, the reason why the XDA made my list is that it was virtually useless as a phone! Calls disconnected randomly and it drained itself of battery constantly trying to connect to a network.
#3 Sony MiniDisc – not many people can remember this music format now, but it is best described as the bit of filler between the ages of Compact Disc and MP3 Download. With recordable, digital quality sound from a small diskette and Walkman player, this was must-have technology…for about 3 months. The record labels didn’t really feel the love and kept their distance, leaving MD with a small and loyal following of musicians and audio buffs. Sony administered the last rites in 2013.
#2 Psion Series 5 – a distant relative of the Sinclair ZX, this PDA superseded the much-loved Series 3 in 1997 and featured a very nice touch-type keyboard of Lilliputian dimensions. It run the EPOC operating system which was unfairly referred to as ‘Electronic Piece Of Cheese’ at the time. In actual fact, EPOC was a reasonably successful early attempt at a multi-tasking and memory-efficient operating system for handheld devices. However, sales reps up and down the land soon tired of its propensity to lose data and display malfunctions caused by a design fault on the screen cable.
#1 Google Glass – this flagship of wearable tech is a marvel, but I really struggle to understand what benefits it delivers. Wearers look freakish. More seriously, the ability to record and photograph bystanders is seriously creepy. There have been tales of ‘Glassholes’ being assaulted in restaurants and take-up has been slow. I am quite sure this demonstration of hubris will be a white elephant in the consumer market. However, it is not beyond redemption and may find appropriate use in science and healthcare.
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