Explainer: The worst tech of 2010
Microsoft Kin phone
In an era where everyone wants a smart phone, who would buy a dumbed-down handset that has no apps, provides a terrible browsing experience on its tiny screen and has a UI that makes users jump through silly hoops like dragging photos onto a tiny green circle just to share them? Teenagers and young adult hipsters would flock to Kin in droves, Microsoft reasoned, and even pay the same data fees Verizon charges for its Droids. Fortunately, consumers aren't stupid. The product was pulled from the market in just 48 days. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Augen GenTouch78 Android tablet
When Kmart quietly began selling the $150 Augen Gentouch78, a few media outlets trumpeted it as the arrival of a new age, with CNN even saying that it could "narrow the digital divide." However, this craptastic 7-inch Android slate only managed to divide Kmart shoppers from their money by combining the world's most resistive touchscreen with an unauthorized — and non-working — copy of the Android Market.
AT&T 3G MicroCell
Injury, meet insult. Even after carpet bombing America with Luke Wilson commercials, AT&T couldn't shake its reputation as the "dropped call" network. So many saw it as an admission of guilt when the company released the 3G MicroCell, a $150 wireless device that promises to improve your reception by leveraging your home Internet connection. While the MicroCell mostly works as advertised, asking users to buy a $150 accessory, bring their own connectivity, and still pay AT&T for the minutes they use is the definition of chutzpah.
Literati e-book reader
Just visit any Bed Bath & Beyond and you'll find the Sharper Image's Literati, a color 7-inch device, nestled between the foot massagers and steam cleaners. Keep on walking. If you can get past the clunky design, you'll find a special treat in the sluggish software, stiff keyboard and page turn buttons that work only some of the time, and in a Wi-Fi connection that forgets your settings, almost like it's pulling a practical joke.
Qik video chat
This year, the iPhone 4's FaceTime feature enabled smart phone users to conduct live, high-quality video chats for the first time. We say that because Android users have been saddled with Qik while Skype and Google both sat idle. Qik's performance includes slideshow-like framerates, grainy images and frequently dropped connections — over both Wi-Fi and 3G. By the time Qik gets better, Skype and Google Talk will probably offer video calling on phones.
Related: Best Smart Phones of 2010
Cisco Flip Slide HD
Why just shoot video with your Flip camera when you can watch it on tiny, difficult-to use resistive touchscreen that adds nearly $100 to your camera's price? The Slide HD takes the same video and provides the same amount of storage as other Flips. However, it suffers from a bulky design and confusing interface that involves both a touchscreen and a touch strip beneath the display, which leaves you wondering which to use. Cisco, what were you thinking?
Google's ultimate couch potato platform launched with a lot of fanfare, building on the Android OS to provide a slick UI that provides powerful search capability, custom apps, and a decent web surfing experience. However, the major broadcasters (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox) and Hulu all blocked access to their content, and DVR integration is limited to only Dish network subscribers. All of this — plus a kludgy remote control-keyboard combo — made both the Google TV-powered Logitech Revue ($299) and Sony TVs based on the platform a tough sell. We'll take Apple TV or Roku for $100, Alex.
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