Five for Friday: The Worst Gadgets of CES 2014
CES was upon us this week, and the tech world gathered to debut some amazing gadgetry. Not everything is worthy of praise though, and we’re here to highlight the worst of what was unleashed upon society this week in Vegas. Note: all opinions are mine alone and do not represent Avaya.
5. The Hisense X1 Smartphone is not a Smartphone, it’s a Tablet
Phablets were all the rage in 2013, with bigger being better (Ed. Note: as an iPhone-to- Galaxy Note 3 defector, I wholeheartedly agree). But how big is too big? I think we’ve reached that point with the Hisense X1. Now, I admittedly have small lady hands, so I am a bit biased when it comes to giant phones. But a whopping 6.8 inches?!? That is a comically large phone. Add a fifth of an inch and you’ve got a Nexus 7 tablet. That’s absurd. What are you going to look like walking down the street with that thing up to your ear? I guess Candy Crush will look really great, but I seriously doubt the Hisense will fit in anyone’s pants pocket.
Actually, I take that back.
4. LG’s Pocket Photo 2 Prints Out Subpar Photos and That’s It
This is the second LG Pocket Photo, which means this is an improvement from the first. It’s supposedly smaller and more portable, with the ability to wirelessly connect to your device and spit out 30 photos before needing a recharge. But do you really need to print out tiny smartphone pics right away? And do you really need to be able to embed QR Codes in them? Perhaps a large, awkwardly-placed QR Code would be good at a trade show or convention but when else? For a portable printer, Polaroid’s Socialmatic seems to be the better option. It has a similar small print size (and QR Code option, if that’s your jam) but is also an actual camera with social media posting apps and a nice retro design.
3. Polaroid’s Cheap @$$ Budget Tablet
Budget tech isn’t supposed to have all of the bells and whistles of the higher-end models. With most devices you get what you pay for. Polaroid has been in the budget tablet game for a few years now, slapping their logo on uber-cheap third-party tablets and putting them on the market. Starting at $130 Polaroid’s new Q Series tablets are supposed to be the cheapest tablet you can buy on the market, and they reek of it. The white rubberized plastic back looks like a bargain bin iPad case, and the entire tablet itself is like something that’s going to end up on sale at Walmart or Walgreens.
Reports on the display being dim and low-quality have already started surfacing, meaning nothing is even going to look remotely HD. Don’t even think about having a nice video conference call on it. The only redeeming quality seems to be that it will run a stock version of Android Kitkat 4.4 right out of the box. So they’ll be easier to customize for those of us who love to tinker. Polaroid isn’t releasing any specs quite yet, however they’re promising 1 GB of RAM, 8 GBs of storage and a (presumably lo
w-end) quad-core processor. But for just $20 more you can get an Asus budget tablet with a far better display, or just looking around on Craigslist you can find something used yet higher end altogether. So why get it?
2. Intel’s Smart Mug is a Stupid Concept
Intel showed off a lot of products this year, including an LED-lit porcelain smart mug. It’s programmable, meaning you can create smiley faces and other designs with the LEDs. It can also be connected it to their sensor-filled baby onesie to track the breathing rate of the baby in said onesie. This is one of those things that you tend to see in old 70s and 80s sci-fi movies, where everything is decked out in hokey, excessively futuristic applications.
Do you know what doesn’t need to be forced onto the Internet of Things bandwagon? My coffee mug. I have at least a dozen of them, I don’t use just one, and the reason I have so many is because coffee mugs sustain a lot of abuse. I drop them, guests drop them, I shove them in the microwave and don’t want to worry about frying any LEDs. Also very rarely do I actually pay attention to my coffee mug other than its proximity to my hand, my keyboard, and the edge of the surface it’s resting on. I pay attention to my phone and my computer screen for alerts, and frankly I don’t know if I want to have to pay attention to another thing to tell me the weather, or the heat of my tea, or whether or not my fictional baby is breathing. I feel like an app on my phone with an appropriate, frantic ringtone would be better at alerting me to my non-breathing, non-existing fictional baby. Fortunately, Intel doesn’t seem to be interested in selling this to consumers.
1. Asus Padfone is… I Don’t Know…
Look at that thing. No really, look at it. Is that not the most ridiculous piece of tech you have ever seen? I am all for your hybrids; your phablets and your tablet laptops (tabtops? Laplets?), but when you have to Voltron a phone into a tablet dock to make your hybrid work, it’s beginning to get absurd. At that point, shouldn’t you just buy a separate tablet? Because you have to carry that large piece around if you want to use it. It’s not like a tablet keyboard dock that is a small add-on compared to the rest of the tablet. And they thought that this was so useful that they also debuted a Padfone Mini. It just… I don’t know… I just don’t know anymore. AT&T seems to have confidence in the phone though and will be rolling onto their network this spring. So look forward to seeing people pulling a tablet dock out and locking their phone into it at a coffee shop near you soon.
A mass display of ideas for the future always seem to attract a few ludicrous products, but I must say I’m sorely disappointed I didn’t see any weird unified communications products. I mean, nobody thought we should have hardware that lets us take our Avaya Scopia calls in the shower or in the gardening shed or something. Of course CES isn’t over yet, so I could still get my wish.