The Worst Gear

courtesy of By Wired Product Reviews, Wired.com

We may have gawked at the shining glowing glow of the iPad 2, or swooned at the Jawbone Jambox, or sat amazed by a slew of handy Android handsets that blew away the iPhone in some key areas.

But a lot of the gadgets we reviewed plain sucked.

Some were atrocious train wrecks, hurriedly pushed out by companies looking to bring a product to market before it was ready. Others were just ill-conceived pieces of garbage that, for whatever reason, slipped past the quality-control department and made it onto store shelves.

These are the 10 absolute most hideous pieces of trash to have crossed the review desk. Brace yourself for these epic failures.

Fusion Garage JooJoo Tablet

Twice the weight of an iPad with half the usability and an interface buggier than bucket full of cockroaches. And no access to apps. And a $500 price tag. No 3G connectivity, Google Talk or Adobe PDF reader. POP3 e-mail? Support for Microsoft exchange? Keep dreaming. A battery that conks out after only a few hours of use. All this can be yours for the low, low price of $500. We wish the JooJoo were just a bad joke with no punch line. Sadly it was a real thing and the absolute worst gadget we reviewed.

The Shake Weight

I don’t agree with this one because I have actually used this and let me tell you, it worked for me.  I woke up the next day and my arms were sore.  Now, maybe these guys used the girl ones, which are lighter than the guy ones, or something else, I don’t know but from personal experience, it does work.

When was the last time a pushup made you laugh so hard, you actually got in a decent ab workout? Say hello to the infamous Shake Weight, a device that’s been spoofed so rampantly (see SNL’s faux commercial) that most people probably don’t realize this thing’s actually a real product.

In practice, the “workout” wasn’t terribly satisfying. We’ll admit you do feel reasonable tension in your muscles. However, jerking this 5-pounder only got our max heart rate up to 114, which pales in comparison to a standard weightlifting session, let alone back-to-back sets of pushups. More importantly, after a few days of use, our muscles didn’t feel nearly as sore as they do from weightlifting. And, as everyone knows: no pain, no gain.

D-Link Boxee Box

The Boxee came close to being tossed into the vaporware pile, but low and behold, the media-streaming device came out late this year. It should have been put back in; it’s not even close to being done yet.

The hardware, which is made by home-networking giant D-Link, is unusual-looking. It’s cool, but it won’t fit on a narrow entertainment center shelf, and it doesn’t go nicely in front of the TV, either. You need to find a tall shelf somewhere.

The remote sometimes gets confused if you press buttons on both sides at once, which is easy to do unless you hold it carefully. Also, entering passwords using the QWERTY (as you have to do for secured Wi-Fi networks and to access your Boxee account) is extremely frustrating, especially if your passwords have a mix of upper and lowercase, because you can’t see what you’re typing on the screen.

Looxcie Bluetooth Headset-Camera Combo

Warhol was only half right. Sure, everyone is famous these days, but only for 15 seconds and in 15 fps. At least that’s what the Looxcie, a wearable video camera, presumes. Integrated into a flashy Bluetooth headset, the device is meant for capturing happenstance moments where whipping out a phone or cheap portable camcorder may not suffice.

In practice, Looxcie still doesn’t seem quite ready for its close-up. The entire headset is less than 28 grams and fairly comfortable — until you really start moving around with it on. A light jog crossing the street required holding the camera in place. Every time we bent the flexible boom to frame a shot, the whole package jerks out of ear. The problem isn’t just hardware, either. Looxcie’s app is easy to use: Short clips are e-mailed within a minute. But for now, it’s compatible with Android cell phones (sorry iDrones).

Samsung HZ35W

Is Nathan’s Hot Dogs in Kyrgyzstan? The GPS-enabled 12-megapixel Samsung HZ35W certainly seemed to think so, placing Coney Island’s culinary landmark in the mountains of Central Asia when we pulled our images into Apple Aperture 3‘s “Places” mapping feature. When the same thing happened with a replacement camera, we switched to Apple’s iPhoto, which also has Places, and the geotagged photos were dropped properly into a map of New York City. Go figure.

As Seen on TV Smart Mop

The Smart Mop, (from the As Seen on TV® people, natch) ostensibly eliminates all those hassles so you can experience the many transcendent joys of mopping. Except, no, it doesn’t. It may be lighter and a bit easier on the nose than a traditional slop-mop, but smart? Um, no.

What you’ve got here is a pole with a hyper-absorbent towel attached to the end. (Think gray-market Shamwow.) It’s fastened onto two rings and cut into loops so it spreads out on the floor, mop style. After sponging up the remains of, say, a tipped 2-liter, you twist the sections of the handle in opposite directions to squeeze out the soda. After a few minutes of mopping, the plastic screw-plug at the bottom end of the contraption came loose. Five minutes after screwing it back in, it came loose again. Oh, and if you don’t wiggle the Smart Mop so that its tendrils are just so, you’ll hear that plug scrape along the floor as you go.

Seagate GoFlex FreeAgent TV

One look at the interface and you’ll see the clear embodiment of a cheap import that’s had someone else’s name slapped on it before being rushed to market. It’s not just an affront to the eyes to look at, in use it’s a disaster.

The FreeAgent is so sluggish that you soon adapt to it by punching buttons three times and hoping for the best. You’re hoping that eventually one of those presses will actually register and do something, sparing you from simply sitting there in wait. What it might do, who knows: The interface is so badly conceived that the remote features both Home and Menu buttons, and they do wildly different things. Actual performance is dismal. Raw video quality is horrid and for some reason, audio playback came through at an extremely low volume, requiring that we jack up the sound on the TV.

MSI GX660 Notebook

The only explanation we can guess at for why the MSI GX660 looks the way it does is that someone made a bet with an MSI engineer, challenging him to design the most horrendously ugly computer possible. We were less thrilled with the much-touted Dynaudio speaker setup, which puts very visible, oversized speakers on both corners of the base. They’re nothing to write home about. In fact, it would have been nice if they’d been even louder, so as to drown out the jet-engine–class fan that’s installed to cool the dang thing.

JakPak All-in-One Waterproof Jacket/Sleeping Bag/Tent

The JakPak is simply a bulky, 3-pound raincoat that costs twice as much as other waterproof jackets and isn’t of much use, even to a hobo. Once you’ve set up your personal tent, you’re left with what is essentially an unsolvable waterproof puzzle. A bunch of straps, dangling pockets and zippers makes reassembly of the JakPak an exercise in bodhisattva-like patience. On this particular day, we grew frustrated and simply unzipped the extras and walked home … wet.

It gets worse. Once inside your personal “shelter,” you’ll be greeted with a pungent urethane smell and another disconcerting realization: There’s no way to keep your hands dry. Yes, the only shielding your mitts get (unless you stick them in your pockets) is the flimsy mosquito netting from the top of the tent (again, not much help in a downpour). We will say: It works fantastically well as a $250 tarp for our woodpile.

Bushnell StealthView

Spaghetti Monster forbids you need to actually change this monocular’s magnification powers. We found changing focus on anything to be a massive chore, and our few successes seemed almost accidental. Even when in focus, however, it felt like peering through a keyhole, with a viewing area so small that it was practically useless.

Although the monocular has a dimmer, we found that even on the low settings the black-and-white image was too bright, leaving us night-blind and stumbling when we stopped looking through the viewfinder. All told, you’d be stealthier with a spotlight and a tuba.

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