Ever find yourself in a position to need to buy a gift for someone you just don’t like? Perhaps an in-law, or obstinate niece or nephew? Or, just looking to avoid terrible gifts? TechRepublic assembled the worst possible gift ideas—products that you can give to people that serve as the holiday equivalent of “Here, it’s your problem now.” In other words, the digital equivalent of buying a drum set for your nephew to irritate your brother.
SEE: Project failure: 10 excuses your boss doesn’t want to hear (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
1. Wired 3.5mm headphones
For the 2019 holiday season, this is basically giving people a scavenger hunt to figure out how to plug in headphones to whatever they own.
Practically every flagship smartphone over has abandoned the 3.5mm headphone jack over the past few years, making the actual practicality of these limited, at least without the use of a dongle for Lightning or USB-C connectors.
2. Android tablets
The Motorola Xoom—the first Android tablet—debuted in 2011, and full-size Android tablets were scarcely ever better. For all of the UI improvements that accompanied the tablet form factor in Android 3.0, these were slowly whittled away as the primary Android UI reverted to being more phone-oriented, with third-party apps rarely making or keeping tablet optimizations, leaving the tablet Android experience essentially just stretched-out phone apps.
Combined with the reputation of Android tablets devices to rarely—if ever—receive major version updates, giving Android tablets is an exercise in subjecting people to frustration.
3. The wrong smart assistant device (or, realistically, any)
Know someone who is really enthusiastic about Google’s ecosystem? Buying them an Echo device, or something that relies on Alexa, is a quick way to garner polite disappointment.
Amazon Alexa? Buying them a Google Home or Nest product is counterproductive at best, given the mutual incompatibilities between the two.
Actually, if you know someone who has not bought in to either of these ecosystems at this point, your best best is to simply not gift these at all. “Here’s a microphone and/or camera to put in your house, so Silicon Valley can monitor you at all times!” is sure to endear you to friends, family, and casual acquaintances.
There’s also the point that Google is pushing the Nest Mini so hard with giveaways and bundles, that the value of that product is approximately equal to the toy at the bottom of the cereal box.
It’s the thought that counts, but this might just be defective thought.
4. The Facebook Portal
Facebook debuted the Portal videophone in November 2018, to polite acceptance, despite the ongoing data privacy scandal plaguing the social media giant. The Portal is advertised as a device that sits in the user’s living room, used to communicate with friends and family.
In February 2019, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, in an interview with Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain “We definitely don’t want a society where there’s a camera in everyone’s living room watching the content of those conversations,” apparently forgetting that the Facebook Portal exists. No. We did not make that up. We’re not allowed to make stuff up.
CNET’s Megan Wollerton declared that “nobody should buy the Facebook Portal TV.” Not taking issues with the hardware itself, Wollerton noted that “It’s a complete anomaly — a solidly performing, decently priced device that just isn’t suited for anyone because of the privacy concerns and increasingly alarming issues plaguing the social networking site.”
5. Basically any Fitbit or WearOS smartwatch
WearOS is withering on the vine, as none of the current-generation devices are quite equipped to stand up to… the previous generation of Apple Watch units. This isn’t purely Google’s fault—the lack of good SoCs from Qualcomm, needed to power these smartwatches, have hampered development—though WearOS is not particularly good on its own merit.
ZDNet’s Jason Perlow claims, similarly, that Fitbit is doomed following their acquisition by Google. Given Google’s propensity for killing products, Fitbit may well go the way of Pebble.
6. Apple Watch for Android users
This doesn’t work, it’s something akin to Apples and… well, you get the picture.
7. Expired Chromebooks
Chromebooks come with nominally five years of software updates from Google, keeping the Chrome browser suitably up-to-date. It’s not five years from purchase, however, it’s five years from the model introduction date. You can check the lifespan of Chromebook models on Google’s support pages, but this information is not printed on the packaging when you buy a Chromebook.
As it is, there’s a fair few websites pushing sales on Chromebooks for under $100—these are often refurbished, expired systems no longer receiving security updates. Set sail for identity theft!
8. The Xbox One X All-Digital Edition
Want a game console, but with none of the savings you can get on Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, or shops that sell second-hand games like GameStop? The Xbox One X All-Digital Edition is great for people who want to pay more for less.
CNET has a full breakdown of the pricing structure of this mess.