The Worst Gadgets Of 2017

The Worst Gadgets Of 2017

This was a bad year, and these gadgets made it worse. Some were epic disappointments. Others were just ill conceived from the very beginning. These are the worst.

Google Pixel Buds

Image: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo

It’s no surprise that Google wanted to join the wireless headphones parade. It’s appalling that they released such a crappy gadget right out of the gates, though. The Pixel Buds don’t fit well. They don’t work right. They don’t even look cool. And that magical translation feature? Not so magical, it turns out. – Adam Clark Estes

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Ubiquiti Front Row

This gadget dangled below my boobs for a day. It snapped some bad photos consistently full of chromatic fringing, and also stitched together a meh timelapse. I really don’t know why companies keep pushing lifelogging, and I really don’t know why this particular company thinks I want to hang a camera around my neck with a lanyard in order to join this (truly lame) trend. For $US400 ($522), that is a laughable expectation. Look, it’s not a total eyesore and, in execution, it technically delivers on its stated purpose. I just don’t think it’s a purpose anyone is really striving for! – Melanie Ehrenkranz

Image: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Essential Phone

There are often some growing pains when a startup tries to push out its first product, but the Essential Phone may have been the most botched launch of the year. After delays, the phone finally went on sale, only to keep early adopters hanging around in limbo as they waited for handsets they paid for. And when Essential finally starting shipping phones out, customers were treated to one of the most sluggish and frustrating camera experiences ever on a device priced at $US700 ($914). The funny thing is, now that the Essential Phone’s price has been slashed to $US450 ($587), and the company has had time to patch its shoddy camera software, the PH-1 might also be one of the best tech comebacks of the year too…it might also be too late. – Sam Rutherford

New Teddy Ruxpin

Image: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

You’d assume that the follow-up to a toy that seemed like a technological marvel in 1985 would raise the bar again for what toys can do. But somehow, Wicked Cool Toys’ Teddy Ruxpin revival almost feels less capable than the original. Sure, it’s got LCD eyes that make it appear to be far more expressive, but the stories and other content that Teddy Ruxpin can share with kids are locked to an app, which means you sadly can’t make Teddy sing along with whatever you’d like. You’re probably better off hunting down one of the original Ruxpins on eBay. – Andrew Liszewski

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Sega Genesis Flashback

A retro console designed to look like an old Sega and loaded with old Sega games seems like such a no brainer, especially after the success of last year’s NES Classic. But ATGames’ console is so buggy it’s unplayable. Games look and sound terrible. There’s a ton of lag every time you try to do something as simple as make Sonic jump. ATGames has said that the bugs could be fixed, but the company has a long history of dropping buggy retro Sega consoles on the market. If you’ve got a hankering for Sonic, you’re better off picking up an old console and cartridge off eBay. – Alex Cranz

Image: Libby Watson/Gizmodo

Teforia Leaf

No matter how much of a gadget nerd you are, you know that there are some activities that don’t need better tools. Many nights, I drink a soothing cup of tea before I go to bed. I have never looked at my kitchen counter and thought, “Gosh, what if I got rid of the knife block and plopped a $US400 ($522) automated Keurig-for-tea here. It’s even connected to the internet! I’ll empty out a drawer to store the tea pods.” Instead, I just put on the kettle, wait two minutes, and voila, TEA. Of course Teaforia went under. How could it have gone any other way? – Mario Aguilar

Image: Mike Nuñez/Gizmodo

UrbanEars Baggen and Stammen

These wireless speakers might looks like stylish Sonos competitors, but they’re really big, colourful pieces of shit with knobs attached. While we appreciate the effort, the UrbanEars gadgets simply do not work as advertised. In testing, the screw-ups were so bad that basic tasks like answering the phone while the speakers were connected led to an endless amount of grief and possibly an unresolvable conflict with the neighbours who can’t comprehend why the music never stops playing so loud. – Adam Clark Estes

Fitbit Ionic

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

After a recent patch, the Fibit Ionic has become very good — not just at tracking your fitness, but at functioning as a smartwatch. But there’s still a very big and very ugly problem: The Ionic’s appearance. It’s huge, heavy, clunky, and so unattractive you won’t want to wear it for long. The size of the thing is especially exasperating, as many of Fitbit’s fans have smaller, daintier wrists and probably don’t want to look like the have an entire damn TV strapped to their arm. – Alex Cranz

Lynx Robot

Image: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

Putting a device in your home that listens to every last word you say, all day long, is kind of creepy. But what happens when you stick that technology in a walking, talking robot that can then follow you around as well? There’s a lot of potential for pairing an artificially intelligent smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa with a fully-capable robot, but Ubtech’s Lynx just doesn’t carry through with the premise. Instead of adding an emotive display to what Alexa is saying, the Lynx randomly moves around while the smart assistant responds, looking more like it’s trying to swat a fly, than regretfully reporting that it’s raining outside. – Andrew Liszewski

Image: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

ZTE Axon M

I wanted to like this phone, I really did. But at every turn it felt like there was something else to complain about. ZTE put two screens in one device, that’s awesome right? Nope, because there’s a giant bezel that runs down the middle, and its square aspect ratio makes for a lot of wasted space while watching videos. But the dual screens let them simplify the phone’s design, because by rotating the phone, a single camera can shoot both front and back. Yes, except the camera is weak and struggles mightily in low-light. And to top it off, the Axon M’s battery life was the worst we saw all year, and its thick, heavy design makes it feel like a brick. – Sam Rutherford

Micro USB

This frustrating, outdated connector simply refuses to die. It has plagued countless devices with awkward, single-sided plugs that transfer power and data very slowly. This year loads of gadgets have made the transition to USB-C, and there’s just no excuse anymore. I don’t care if the new Kindle Oasis is the best e-reader ever, its micro USB port is an insult to those who buy it. Same goes for Bose’s fantastic SoundSport Free earbuds. They cost $US250 ($326)! The least they could do is put port on it that wouldn’t be instantly outdated. It’s time to stop fucking around with micro USB. – Sam Rutherford

Hasselblad X1D

Image: Victor Jeffreys II/Gizmodo

I know what you’re thinking: VERY EXPENSIVE HASSELBLAD TAKES VERY NICE PHOTOS! OK, fine, I’ll give you that. The thing takes nice photos — provided you’re in a studio and you have infinity hours. Yes, it’s medium format, and yes, so much resolution! But for every scenario that isn’t a highly produced photo shoot, Hasselblad’s $US9,000 ($11,750) medium-format camera is clunky, and cumbersome. – Mario Aguilar

Image: Harrison Weber/Gizmodo

Nebia Shower System

This is the only gadget to wind up on both the best and worst list. Reviewer Harrison Weber adored the gentle mist this shower spits out, and he loved how easy it was to install. But the shower creates puddles all over your bathroom, leaving every surface wet, and it creates weird pockets of cold air that Harrison finds “pleasant.” I think Harrison is alone on that front. If I wanted a drafty, wet bathroom, I’d move back into the old farmhouse I grew up in. Thanks, but no thanks Harrison. – Alex Cranz

Image: Elfkin

Image: Elfkin


Sean Parker inexplicably backed this nightmarish smart children’s toy. For someone who thinks Facebook is fucking up children’s brains, I’m hard-pressed to believe he spent a lot of time hanging out with the Elfkins. I kid you not, when I took the demented Pixar-like toy out of the box, I gasped so loud my lungs nearly exploded. Looks aside, it’s also not great in the functionality department. By letting you send and receive audio messages accompanied by gestures through an app, this is really a glorified answering machine. And when Gizmodo tested it out, we found that it sometimes glitched out. For $US150 ($196), get your kid a whole bunch of Play-Doh. It’s actually good for their brains. – Melanie Ehrenkranz

Image: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Asus Zenfone AR

The ZenFone AR is a classic case of a device that got hung out to dry. It’s got a nice big screen, luxurious burnished leather back, and pretty decent battery life. But then Asus decided to incorporate Google’s Tango AR platform, which had only ever made it into one other consumer-facing device and was so unpopular and devoid of support that Google canceled the whole initiative back in August. So now the phone is left with a ton of unnecessary sensors crammed in the back, and a price tag too high justify its otherwise mid-range specs. This thing never even had a chance. – Sam Rutherford


Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

The history of cryptocurrency is still being written, but so far its pages consist almost exclusively of Ponzi schemes, vaporware, hacks, theft disguised as hacks, and more Ponzi schemes. A crowd is a gullible thing, and no shortage of conmen have taken advantage of Bitcoin’s supposed journey “to the moon” to bilk unsophisticated people out of actual money in exchange for digital securities they aren’t required to repay. Just as guilty are the tech press, who willingly enable speculation in the crypto space. Pick an industry. Go ahead, any industry. Someone with no credentials has breathlessly claimed “the Blockchain” will do… something to it. But for now, the blockchain doesn’t actually do much of anything. Not well, at least. And certainly not well enough to pour your life savings into. Unless “being the greater fool” is your lifelong financial dream, you’re better off burying your money in a hole. – Bryan Menegus