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It’s been a gangbuster quarter for terrible tech, from exploding batteries to half-hearted upgrades to pretexting scandals and everything in between. Join CNET’s Tim Moynihan on a lighthearted romp through the worst tech stories and products from the past three months. Then, skedaddle on over to part two of this feature and download some free apps that will make you miserable and possibly dumber.rnrn
1. Worst way to re-create the pyrotechnical magic of a Kiss show in your lap: Sony laptop batteries
Forget about screen size and hard-drive capacity for a second. A laptop is only as good as its ability to not burst into flames while sitting in your lap. That’s what makes the recent flurry of Sony laptop battery recalls so lame. Dell started the craze, and now everybody’s getting in on the game: Apple, Lenovo, Toshiba and Fujitsu. The bright side of this is that, for once, a technological trend that started in America is taking off in Japan. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
2. Worst thinking outside the box: Amazon Unboxrnrn
There’s nothing really wrong with Amazon’s Unbox online video service–except for the fact that you can watch movies only on the PC you downloaded them on. And it doesn’t work with Macs or iPods. And although you need to download a proprietary player to watch the videos you bought, sometimes the videos don’t play at all. And the Unbox software keeps trying to connect to the Net, even after you’ve disabled that feature in Windows. And it sometimes makes you go through a complicated uninstall process when you’re fed up with it. Other than that, it’s all sunshine and daisies.
3. Worst explanation of the Internet: Senator Ted Stevensrnrn
Thanks to Sen. Ted Stevens‘ (R-Alaska) speech regarding Net neutrality, the complicated back-end logistics required to serve and deliver a Web page have been forever demystified.
In summary, at left is a picture of an Internet. At right is a picture of what is not an Internet.
4. Most frustrating pair of headphones: Sennheiser OMX 52 Streetrnrn
Headphones-wise, Sennheiser knows what it’s doing. The company has a CNET Editors’ Choice ranking under its belt. That’s why this pair of headphones is so baffling. They sound absolutely great, but the awkward and loose over-the-ear design does everything it can to ruin it for everyone. It’s like being served a delicious filet mignon but being forced to eat it with silverware made of gummi worms. Yes, that is the best possible analogy.
5. Worst upgrade: iTunes 7rnrn
We could easily add the “new” iPod to this list, thanks to the fact that it doesn’t do much that previous iPods couldn’t do (except hold more songs, take up less space, and play Texas Hold ‘Em). Instead, we’ll give a tip o’ the c(r)ap to iTunes 7, which boasted features such as resource hogging, freezing, deleting song files, album art issues, CD-importing woes, iPod syncing foibles and innovative new features stolen directly from Windows Media Player 11. In Apple’s defense, the company released an iTunes update a couple of weeks after iTunes 7 came out. Maybe it’s best that the iPod hasn’t seen many significant “upgrades” over the past few years.
6. Worst cause of CNET-wide paranoia: HP pretexting scandalrnrn
Gone are the days when CNET News.com reporters Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit would chat with each other on the phone for hours, coordinating their wardrobes for the next day, discussing their favorite “American Idol” contestant and talking about whom each of them will ask to the CNET sock hop. Instead, they’ve both been under their desks for the past month with tin foil hats on, rocking back and forth in the fetal position and mumbling something about HP spies tapping their brain waves. Thanks a ton, HP. Their outfits haven’t been coordinated for weeks now.
Worst game: World War II Combat: Iwo Jimarnrn
One could argue that trivializing the loss of more than 25,000 Japanese and American soldiers by turning it into a video game is enough to add the game to a “worst” list. But this game further bastardizes the legacy of the Battle of Iwo Jima with dancing troops, idiotic A.I., terrible graphics and infuriating gameplay. In fact, the GameSpot reviews team says this game has “no redeeming qualities whatsoever.” That’s hard to do.
Worst way to get a free Dolce & Gabbana dongle: Buy the Dolce & Gabbana Razr for $400rnrn
Hooray for bling. Bling gets the point across: I have a lot of money and I enjoy fashion. But there is such a thing as too much bling. The Dolce & Gabbana Razr, for example, is getting all up in everyone’s face with the bling. Suddenly, it’s not enough to have a phone made of gold. If we are to believe Dolce & Gabbana, it’s imperative to have a golden phone that announces “Dolce & Gabbana!” every time it’s turned on or off. Why not a very loud speakerphone that yells “Look at me! I am fancy!” every time the phone is turned on? That would be great, and also cure the owner’s insecurity. In other news, you get a free dongle with this $400 phone. We’re holding out for the $900 Dolce & Gabbana fax machine (with free golden toner cartridges).
Worst product name and packaging: PumpOne PumpedForLifernrn
If ever there were a perfect opportunity to bring Hans and Franz back as product spokesmen, this would be it. Instead, the marketing whizzes behind PumpOne PumpedForLife decided to underscore an extremely awkward product name with packaging that makes us feel extremely awkward. More specifically: A shirtless, muscle-bound man is shoving an iPod into our faces while doing arm curls. Instead of getting “pumped,” this box makes us want to go to the nearest tavern and get Duffed. And then ask Duffman to protect us from scary PumpedForLife Man.
10: Worst hoax: Firefox zero-day flawrnrn