The 15 Most Overpriced Gadgets Of All Time

There's nothing wrong with charging a lot of money for your gadget. Some of the best things in life are the exact opposite of free; a truly superior product is definitely worth spending more. Unfortunately, sometimes tech companies think too much of their wares and too little of your intelligence. The result is a product whose price is out of whack with its real value in the marketplace.

Here are 15 truly outrageous offenders, the most overpriced gadgets of all time.

Cutting-edge technology is expensive enough as it is; why overpay for the stuff that's not a good value? Laptop Magazine's Avram Piltch breaks down some of the worst all-time bargains in tech.

Microsoft Surface RT ($679 RRP in Australia w/ Touch Cover)

How would you like a brand new convertible with a one-of-a-kind retractable roof for the reasonable price of $22,000? There's just one catch. You must pay an extra $10,000 for the convertible roof you saw highlighted in all the commercials.

At its $559 base price in Australia, Microsoft's first tablet costs a little more than the fourth-generation iPad, the well-established leader in the tablet market. The attractive Surface has a worse screen than the iPad, it lasts five hours less on a charge and, at launch time, had only a handful of decent apps for its nascent Windows RT operating system.

However, you may want the Surface because of its heavily advertised Touch Cover keyboard, a must-have accessory that will set you back an extra $140, even though it costs Microsoft only $16 to manufacture. That's $679 for a new, unproven tablet which trails the $539 market leader in most ways.

More: 12 Hottest Holiday Tablets

Voodoo Envy 133 ($US2099 - $US3299)

One of the most anticipated products of 2008, the .7-inch thin Envy 133 notebook was supposed to inspire its name in all of your friends. But at a starting price of over $US2099 that jumped up to $US3300 when fully configured, this 1.5kg notebook was far too light on performance and specs to justify its heavy price.

The high-end Envy 133 configuration featured a modest 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, just 2GB of RAM and 64GB of internal Flash storage that copied files so slowly it was more of a Solid State Park than a Solid State Drive. Worse still, the notebook lasted just two hours and 32 minutes on a charge, making this ultraportable not very portable at all.

More: Top 10 Ultrabooks

Cisco umi ($US599 + $US24.99 per month)

Psst. Come over here. I have a copy of this week's Village Voice newspaper that I'd like to sell you for just $US25. What? "It's free," you say? Well, my version has slightly sharper print so I'm sure you and millions of others will be more than willing to pay my premium.

Cisco applied this perverse logic to its 2010-era umi home telepresence system, which cost an eye-popping $US599 for equipment plus $US24.99 a month to provide a slightly better video chat service than competitors like Skype and Google offered for free. With the umi, which was short for You / Me, you could hook up a camera to the top of your TV and either talk to one of the five other umi users — or with your friends on Google Talk who were paying nothing at all.

More: 8 Sweet Cameras for Every Shooter

Sony VAIO P Series ($1599 RRP in Australia)

Back in 2009, netbooks were as hot as the Jonas Brothers, and everyone wanted to get in on the action. On the low end, non-computer companies like Sylvania (yes, the light bulb people) were making their own versions of netbook. On the high end, Sony tried to reinvent the genre with its 635g, 8-inch VAIO P.

At first glance, the VAIO P was an engineering marvel. The system was thin and narrow enough to fit into an overcoat pocket while providing premium features like a bright 1600x768 pixel display and 3G connectivity. However, with super-sluggish performance, mediocre battery life and a stiff keyboard, the notebook wasn't good enough for extended use. At $1599 in Australia at the time of its release, the value just wasn't there when the best premium netbooks at the time were half that price.

More: Longest Lasting Laptops

Apple Lisa ($US10,000)

In the early 1980s, few people had seen a computer with a graphical user interface. Xerox had been experimenting with GUIs since the 1970s and launched its Xerox Star 8010 in 1981, but it was Apple's Lisa that finally brought windowed operating systems to the mainstream in early 1983.

Unfortunately, for the privilege of rolling a mouse around Lisa's 12-inch, 720 x 360 black-and-white screen, you had to pay a cool $US10,000 ($US22,000 in 2011 dollars) and put up with a pair of unreliable "Twiggy" floppy drives that used their own proprietary 860K disks. At the same time, you could buy a brand new Apple IIe, the leading home computer, for just $US1395, a Compaq Portable PC for $US3590 or an original PC for far less.

More: 7 Things Apple Must Do to Get Its Swagger Back

Nokia Booklet 3G ($US1720 over two years)

Subsidised netbooks with two-year 3G contracts were always a bad idea, but never more so than with the 2010 Nokia Booklet 3G. For $US299 and a commitment to give AT&T $US60 a month for two years ($US1720), unsuspecting shoppers got an attractive but incredibly incapable 10-inch netbook.

Perhaps Nokia and AT&T thought the Booklet's Macbook-esque aluminium chassis would distract consumers long enough that they would make it through the return period without noticing the system's glacial 4200-rpm hard drive, painfully slow Atom Z530 processor or cramped keyboard.

More: Top Windows 8 Laptop Gifts

DIVX ($US499 + $US4.50 per disc)

How would you like to pay $US500 just for the right to pay another $US4.50 every time you want to rent a movie? That was the premise behind DIVX, a late 1990s movie rental system designed by someone who had watched too many episodes of Mission Impossible and loved the idea of self-destructing media.

After buying a $US500 DIVX Player, you could then purchase any of about 400 movies on disc for about $US4.50. A mere 48 hours after you watched the film, it would expire and you would have to throw away the disc or pay another $US3.25 for another 48 hours. Circuit City, the leading seller of DIVX players and discs, touted the new technology as a convenience that would help you avoid late fees. However, the player was $US100 more than a regular DVD player and the discs were more expensive than renting a film at the store.

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BlackBerry PlayBook ($579 RRP in Australia)

Research in Motion Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie must have been eating some psychotropic blackberries when they laid out the MSRP for the company's first tablet in early 2011. At $579 RRP in Australia — around the same price as the industry-leading iPad 2 — the BlackBerry PlayBook provided a significantly smaller screen and an operating system so half-baked that it didn't even include native email support at launch.

Within a few months, the price of the PlayBook had dropped dramatically. Today, you can get one for just under $250, which is still too expensive. Much-better 7-inch Android devices like the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire cost around the same price and have a far better selection of apps.

More: Essential Tablet Accessories

Motorola Laptop Dock ($449 RRP in Australia)

A dual-core smartphone is already more powerful than an older PC, so why not use it as one? That was Motorola's thinking when the company launched the Laptop Dock, a keyboard/screen combo that turned the Atrix handset into a notebook running the browser-centric Webtop OS.

At $449 by itself, or $300 when bought together with the Atrix, the 11.6-inch Laptop Dock cost the same or more than a full-fledged Windows 7 netbook that could run all of your software. Considering that its cramped keyboard was worse than those on most netbooks, Motorola's dock was one of the biggest rip-offs of 2011.

More: 10 Hottest Holiday Smartphones

AT&T VideoPhone 2500 ($US1599)

Today, anyone can conduct an online video chat for free, using Skype, Google Talk, FaceTime or any of a dozen other solutions. But back in 1992, we didn't have broadband internet or HD webcams. So when AT&T released the VideoPhone 2500, a standard landline handset that could send and receive video, the world took notice... of its whopping $US1599 price.

Considering that it both sent and received video on a sluggish 19.2bps modem, the VideoPhone 2500's 10 frame-per-second performance was pretty impressive for the time. However, to use the device, you needed your friends and family to buy it too, something few consumers were willing to do.

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Apple Macintosh G4 Cube ($US1799)

How much extra would you pay for sexy? If you were a Mac maven in 2000, Steve Jobs thought you would spend $US1799 for the PowerMac G4 Cube, a tiny cube-shaped version of Apple's PowerMac G4 desktop. Unfortunately, at that price, the Cube was a square peg trying to fit into the round hole of Apple's product line.

At the time, consumers could pay $US1000 less and get an iMac, which came with a monitor included. Creative professionals who had the money to spend preferred to buy a PowerMac G4 tower with better performance and the ability to upgrade.

More: Alive and Booting: 8 Reasons The PC Still Matters

Motorola Xoom ($US1079 over two years)

When they released the first true Android slate in early 2011, Google and Motorola were a year late to the party and yet they wanted hundreds of dollars more than Apple's belle of the ball.

At a time when the iPad 2 cost $US499 with Wi-Fi, or $US629 with contract-free 3G service, the Motorola Xoom launched at $US599 and required you to sign a two-year contract with Verizon at a minimum of $US20 per month ($US1079), or $US799 sans contract. While the cheaper iPad 2 had access to thousands of apps, at launch, the Xoom had a measly 46 tablet-optimised apps.

More: Top 10 Tablets to Buy or Avoid Now

IBM PCJr ($US669 - $US1269)

A stripped-down chip off the old block, 1983's IBM PCJr (PC Junior) would have been overpriced at any cost. At $US1269 with the absolutely necessary floppy drive ($US669 without), the PC r was quite a bit cheaper than full-fledged IBM PCs of the time, but about on a par with the Apple IIe and far more expensive than home-computing competitors like the $US200 Commodore 64 and $US150 TI-99/4A.

Unfortunately, with its horribly stiff chiclet keyboard, slow performance, and a slew of compatibility issues that kept it from running popular PC programs, the JR wasn't worth the premium. That year, I arrived at computer camp earlier than the other kids, just so I could grab a seat in front of a real PC rather than this awful offspring.

More: 5 Essential Tips for Gifting a Tablet

OQO Model 01 ($US1899)

In launching the world's first 400g Windows PC, OQO's 2004 Model 01 was a true trailblazer. However, even by early 21st century standards, the Lilliputian laptop's 1GHz Transmeta CPU, 20GB hard drive and 256MB of RAM provided sluggish performance. Meanwhile, the tiny keyboard just felt awkward.

Considering that you could get a fully functioning laptop for hundreds of dollars less, it was hard for most consumers and business users to imagine buying this severely neutered novelty for such a high price.

More: The 12 Best Gadgets You Didn't Buy

Newton MessagePad 2100 ($US1000)

By 1997, Apple had improved the software and solved a lot of the handwriting recognition problems on its Newton PDA. Perhaps because of these improvements, the company felt it could price its grayscale handheld at a whopping $US1000, more than some PCs cost.

At the same time, the PalmPilot Personal cost just $US299. Yes, the Newton had a better processor, more storage and a larger screen, but none of these features justified spending $US700 more, even during the Internet bubble.

More: Top Android Tablets for Kids

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Comments

    Left quite a few out..... iPad mini for one

    Where is iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4G, iPhone 4GS and iPhone 5 then iPad, iPad2, theIpad, iPad Mini? I thought you mention "Of All Time"?

      have you actually priced any of these devices other than the ipad mini?

        Have you?

        I actually also came here expecting to see any/all of those as well haha

        iPhone has actually the world's biggest profit margin and 2/3 of Apple's profit comes out from iPhone. This tells how much air Apple sells when you buy an iPhone. When i saw the 64Gb version was priced €899 (=US$1,177) in Finland, i couldn't stop laughing

          iPhone has actually the world's biggest profit margin

          Source(s)?

            http://www.businessinsider.com/iphone-profit-2012-8

      Hahaha, yeah :P

      BS article is BS. the surface for what it offers is a good buy for that price.
      AT&T VideoPhone 2500 ($US1599) for something that was cutting edge and leaps ahead of its time the price wasnt that bad.

      Lack of modern apple devices = Fail
      no I-mate devices listed, the I-mate Jam was about $1200 when released, i bought one, worst purchase ever.

        did you see just how overpriced compared to their contemporaries those older apple products were?
        An Iphone 5 costs about 800 outright, while a galaxy S3, the current main competitor, costs about 700, with smaller brands selling their higher level smartphones outright for between 300 to 500 dollars. Most of those old apple computers sold for around 1000 dollars more than their competitors.

        So yeah, most current apple products, while still overpriced, are still nowhere near as overpriced compared to how they used to be, though part of it is due to the fact that since they have gone mainstream, they no longer are able to support such a wide demographic of customers and have extremely overpriced computers at the same time.

          How many percent of the Galaxy S3s material is made out of plastic? How many percent is iPhone? In terms of build quality S3 doesn't even come close to even the original iPhone. Would you charge more for a toy?

            Just because something's made out of more expensive/heavier material, doesn't mean the build quality is better. Here's a question: how many cracked iPhone screens have you seen honestly? Now, how many cracked Galaxy S (Any model) screens have you seen?

            Now scuttle off back under your bridge

              Pretty sure I have seen two cracked iPhone screens.
              But comparing that to screens on other phones isn't fair because they exist in much smaller quantities and much greater design divergence.
              iPhone is easy to pick on, not because of the screen, but because any crappy quality you see in any other brand is diluted by the lack of care factor.

              that's true, i haven't seen any cracked galaxy s screens. but then maybe that's because no one has them...

            Sure in terms of hardware, iPhone is a lot more sturdy and what have you.

            but in terms of software iPhone doesn't even come close to S3 (maps, siri, etc.). Would you charge more for a sturdy behind-the-times-almost-retarded toy ??

            oh wait.. you obviously purchased and using one. Sorry.

            Lol at the toy comment. Thanks, I needed a good laugh.

            Wait...I think you're serious...

            In that case, take a look at the specs of each phone (you know, the things that actually matter) rather than what they are made of and you'll see which one is the toy.

          Wait, so just because modern Apple products are only a few hundred dollars more expensive than the competition as opposed to a thousand, that somehow makes it better?

            No, it just makes them not-so-eligible for this particular list.

    $1000 for a smartphone... Yeh where is the iPhone 5?

    You forgot to include the iPad Mini. Or just about any i-product.

    But it's pretty obvious you don't want to be badmouthing i-anythings when the most recent Apple product in the list is 12 years old and the next best is a dinosaur from the 80's.

      This is a reprint? of a laptop magazine article. Not a gizmodo original.

        I didn't mention Gizmodo at all.

        Having said that though, they must be agreeing at least in some part with the article or they would not have republished it.

          +1 agree

    Call me crazy but I really loved the Viao P. Never owned one but I loved playing with them every time I found myself in a Harvey Norman store.

    If somebody came out with a cheap Windows 8 device with the same form factor I would probably consider it.

      I always lusted after it and ended up buying one on eBay for $300 last year. It was a dog of a thing until I installed the first Win8 Dev Preview on it. After that it became eminently useful for short periods of time. With a fresh battery, which you can still pick up on eBay from 3rd party battery companies, it would be awesome but I kind of lost interest in it when I got my Zenbook.

      It was expensive, but it's far from 'overpriced' when you consider it was thinner, lighter and had more functions such as: screen rotate/ screen touchpad. And this is on top of SSDs before SSDs were accessible and a stable overclocked Intel Atom to 1.66ghz.

      Most of all, it's Memory stick Duo compatible, which meant you can buy an adapter for 2X Micro SDs and boost your memory by 64gb on the cheap at the time.

      Did I also mention the HD screen when the competitors were still playing around with 480p?

        I agree that it wasn't overpriced in sense of value for money. I think it probably was overpriced in terms of "What the market is willing to pay". It came out during the netbook boom, when people were expecting to pay $300 for small laptops.

    I cannot agree at all with their evaluation of Surface. I can easily see the value in it when compared to an iPad. It supports USB 2.0, is expandable through both that and a microSD card and without the TypeCover it is well and truly up to competing with iPad. The TypeCover is just sauce for the goose that makes it competitive with devices like the Asus Transformer series as well.

    Even the Voodoo Envy 133 is a stretch. It was made of carbon fibre, which easily justified it being a couple of hundred bucks more than the original MacBook Air. In most ways they were very similar and came out at about the same time, so if one was overpriced then it is hard not to say the other was, too.

    If they really wanted to put something in the mix that no-one could argue over, they should have nominated the iPad Mini. It is almost double the cost of the competition and doesn't match their specs in any way. Even the Retina MacBooks are obscenely overpriced in comparison to equivalent PCs (street prices). The problem, of course, is that no journalist can bring themselves to be objective when it comes to Apple's products, nor do they believe street prices make a valid or fair comparison.

    Last edited 05/12/12 12:00 pm

      Agree with your comments re: Surface. Saved me the hassle of typing it all in.

      But but but...Apple said people are willing to pay more for an iPad mini because it's a "premium product". Were Apple lying to us??????

      Last edited 05/12/12 2:26 pm

      ...the iPad Mini (...) is almost double the cost of the competition and doesn't match their specs in any way. Even the Retina MacBooks are obscenely overpriced...

      Couldn't agree more.

    Wow... I totally expected to see an iPad or iPad mini near the top of this list.

    Yeah no Macbooks, no iMacs, especially the Mac Pro. It's possibly the most expensive desktop computer I've ever seen.

    "However, you may want the Surface because of its heavily advertised Touch Cover keyboard, a must-have accessory that will set you back an extra $140, even though it costs Microsoft only $16 to manufacture."

    Yes cuz the cost to 'manufacture' something 100% determines how much it sells for...

    Its funny how the Surface gets into this list over the iPad (Which is more expensive?) the iPad launched with the same handful of apps for about the same or slightly higher price point AFAIK.

    Lets also not forget the $100 of software it comes pre-loaded with (Office anyone?)

    Please feel free to correct me if im wrong...

    Last edited 05/12/12 12:48 pm

    Like some others in these comments, I completely agree that the MS Surface RT doesn't belong in this list. I'm calling shenanigans on the journalistic integrity of the author.

    Luke Hopewell et al - where's the Giz_Au spin on this article?

    13 inch retina macbook pro nowhere to be seen?

    I'm also going to weigh in on the Playbook front. What the author forgets is that the original concept of the Playbook was that it would be a companion device to a Blackberry phone. The reason it didn't initially have an email client was because the user would get that from their tethered phone, with the full, certified encryption to ensure data security. It was a rather nifty idea - it certainly makes a lot more sense than simply creating an oversized copy of your smartphone that duplicates 100% of the phone's functionality - even though it instantly limited the potential customer base to those who already had a Blackberry phone. But to those customers, I am sure it made as much sense, probably more, as spending a similar amount of money on an iPad. Again, this assessment is marred by the author's inability to be objective - the Playbook seemed overpriced to him, therefore it is overpriced, full stop.

    Telstra are actually selling brand new 64Gb Playbooks on eBay for $235 at the moment and I think I will probably buy myself one of those and give my 16Gb jobbie to one of my nephews as a Xmas present.

    The 15 Most Overpriced Gadgets Of All Time:
    Please see apple.com

    Guys, if you look at the list, you will see that the overpriced products listed generally failed to sell because of their price rather than anything else. If iPhones and iPads were overpriced, they wouldn't sell. It's how the market works. At this point, it is more sheep like to say apple stuff is overpriced than to buy apple products.

    A couple things I think should be in this list are the original fat ps3, and the iPad Mini. Also most Alienware crap.

    I don't see how the Surface is one of the 15 most overpriced products of all time. It's not an iPad. Get over it. It's not a 7" android tab either. It might cost a little bit more than I'd be willing to pay for it, but that's a lot different from being one of the most overpriced products ever.

    Everything made by Apple. Ever.

    You know, you can just whinge about the Surface straight up. There's no need to pad it out with 1814 words afterwards to try and hide the fact your having a bitch about a product you don't like based on barely using it.

    While I don't think I'm a Microsoft evangelist, your "market leader" also doesn't have a keyboard. They cost about $120. Add that to the quoted $539, and you've got $659 vs $679.

    But wait, what's that thing that the "market leader" also doesn't have that would make it useful around the office? Oh yeah: Office. The admittedly good (but still not as good, and definitely not better) Office substitutes for it are $9.99.

    That's for each of the equivalent word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps. The "market leader" office software for those is free on Surface, so add $27.97 to the "market leader" tablet, and it's $687.97, vs $679 for the leading overpriced gadget. So it's overpriced by -$8.97. That is an achievement.

    Last edited 05/12/12 5:12 pm

    All these people who think the iDevices are overpriced need to do some research and realise making a device with a HiDPI display(except for the iPad mini) in a glass and aluminium enclosure is expensive! Look at the kindle fires and the nook tablets - Amazon and Barnes and Noble actually LOSE money from selling those (in expectation that users end up buying enough digital content to make up for it) and the kindles and nooks are made from not so great glass and rubbery plastic! I'd rather pay extra for a device with premium looks and durability than some $200 flimsy piece of crap!

    Giz has been going downhill for months now. How is there no apple products on here? Does apple own Gizmodo?

      There are 3 Apple products listed there, just no recent ones.

    The comments just prove what whinny little bitches PC users are. "Oh but Apple is shit, and overpriced". Build a bridge. The surface is DOA, stop excusing a second rate product. But then again you're use to second rate products, aren't you?

    Three Apple products listed, and not one bitch comment from an Apple fan. One comment about the surface and you all get wet in the panties. You really need to get over yourselves.

    Pretty sure Laptop Magazine (who originally ran this article) isn't run by "iFanboys" as most people here are pointing to as the reason there aren't more Apple products on this list.

    Just a hunch.

      If the mag is run by journalists, then you can be 100% certain they will have some degree of Apple bias, if for no other reason than that is what they use and is therefore most familiar to them.

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