b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Crap Gadgets » Page 2 | Search
This is a question Crap Gadgets

We wanted a monkey butler and bought one off eBay. Imagine our surprise when we found it was just an ordinary monkey with rabies. Worse: It had no butler training at all. Tell us about your duff technology purchases.

Thanks to Moonbadger for the suggestion

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 12:51)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Zip drives. + Iomega tape streamers.
At the time, the Zip drive seemed awesome. 100MB per cartridge, good data transfer speed ( SCSI ) and bootable with the right card.
Oh shit, click of death. A steely glance and order was restored. I decided, following good reviews in magazines, to buy an Iomega Ditto tape streamer. It worked perfectly under DOS, but was just proprietary enough that when I switched to Linux, it was useless.
Steely glance. Switch to CD-R.
I stored the Zip drive for future use. Recently I installed the Zip and CLICKGRINDBUZZZZZ. I was going to use it in my Archimedes as its drive is all of 40MB and making some odd noises.
Proprietary storage?, may it suck donkeys.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:33, 6 replies)
'Inferno' lighter.
Yet another impromptu sucker purchase at a petrol station. Twin searing hot jets of flame. Guaranteed to light in any weather, except heavy rain when the piezo igniter shorted out. Or strong wind.
Do not use for warming a block of resin.
Do not use for lighting roll-ups. The gap between the flames was perfect. Brazing torch levels of heat up each nostril. The built in compass had a needle that someone forgot to magnetise. Matters not as it fell out after a day anyway.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:22, Reply)
This is a tale of two men and their vacuum cleaners.

I have a Henry. It has a cheery face, it needs emptying about once per general election, and cleans well despite my having once rolled it down the staircase of a Victorian two-up, two-down by accident.

In the time I have had my Henry, a friend of mine has owned exciting, exotic and expensive robotic vacuum cleaners, at least one of which has excitingly, exotically and expensively destroyed itself to pieces.

My typical cleaning session goes like this: Recover Henry from cupboard. Plug in. Hoover round the flat, pausing to move the occasional rug or chair. Put Henry back in cupboard. Make tea.

My mate's goes like this: Program robot to start a hoovering cycle. Try to find out why it hasn't moved. Wonder why it hasn't got any battery charge. Jiggle robot and base station around until former starts charging from the latter. Go out. Come back home to find the robot has managed to clean a 14 foot by 6 inch L-shaped section of carpet. Plug all the cables back in the television where the robot has attacked them. Unbeach the robot from the shoe it has tried to drive over. Supervise the robot while it trundles round the lounge, occasionally rescuing it when it gets trapped under furniture or stranded on a ledge. Tidy up any more cables the robot has tried to drag across the floor. Watch the robot suddenly stop trundling and zoom back to the base station, only to stop three inches short of it and make a sad beeping noise before shutting down. Note with disappointment that large swathes of carpet have been ignored. Go and get the backup hoover from the cupboard. Do all the bits the robot missed. Wish there was time to make tea.

I'm sure all these Roombas and Trilobites and the like are amazing triumphs of human ingenuity and mastery of artificial intelligence... however, I can't help but wonder that they'd be more honestly sold not as vacuum cleaners, but as devices capable of finding the nearest shoe and beaching themselves on it with improbable efficiency.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:16, 10 replies)
The popcorn maker.
I like popcorn.
Fresh, hot popcorn. Om nom nom.
I bought a hot air popcorn popper. Probably used it twice. It left more old maids than it popped kernels. The temperature at the popcorn exhaust could strip paint.
Back to the old big pan with lid, which does twice the volume in half the time with only half the unpopped kernel amount.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:10, 9 replies)
cappuccino frother
those stupid little whisk things that make your cappuccino frothy.
for about 2 minutes.
it's not the same as buying a proper cappuccino, not by a long way. it got used twice, before being consigned to the car boot sale.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 19:47, 6 replies)
A smoothie maker - seemed like a good idea at the time but the reality at home was different.
10 seconds to set it up, 30 seconds to make the smoothie, then 15 minutes to clean it afterwards.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 19:29, 1 reply)
I was once bought a "car windscreen ice protector" by someone a while after it had been brought up in conversation and I'd said I absolutely, under no circumstances, would want one, ever. Perhaps I'd been unclear on the, "I'm a healthy person with functioning limbs and some limited hand-eye co-ordination, I can use an ice scraper" section of my tirade.

The idea behind it was a plastic sheet that you wrapped around your windscreen and trapped in the door seals, with a couple of suckers near the middle to help hold it down. However, I can only assume it had been designed by someone who had never seen a motor vehicle in their life. Or any weather, for that matter.

For a start, it was smaller than the windscreen of my (relatively small) then-car. Which meant the whole "trap in door" operation method wasn't really an option. With encouragement to use it I eventually compromised on putting it on one half of the windscreen, with the suckers and driver side door holding part of it down and the rest flapping free in the wind. At least 33% of my windscreen would be ice free, surely? The mystery purchaser would be able to be 33% smug, right?

Wrong. The manufacturer's clever sucker idea meant that the windscreen ice protector stood proud of the windscreen. Which meant condensation and ice happily collected under it. So upon peeling the thing off in the morning I was confronted by two thirds normal windscreen ice, one third impenetrable layer of super-ice.

It took a long time to defrost the car that morning. The windscreen ice protector did not get used again. It must have been that the design notes got lost in translation and "protect windscreen from ice" became "protect ice on windscreen".
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 19:23, 3 replies)
Bought the missus one of Ann Summers' infamous 'Rabbits'.

Rubbish. Might as well have stuffed it up her chuff.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 19:04, 2 replies)
although I have since been sucked into the Apple culture (grudgingly) I used to rebel against it
to the point where I thought- why am I going to spend £120 on an iPod Nano (or £250 for an iPod Touch) to do music/video stuff when there's a perfectly good 2.5" Touch Screen multimedia player that more importantly RECOGNISES AND PLAYS .MKV AND .dIVX/.XVID/MP4 FILES which of course consist of the main portion of my video downloads. Plus it's a radio and a games thingy and a photo viewer and it has a built in camera.... for £40!!!! Gotta get me one of those.

At first, all was rosy. My, isn't it cute and dinky? Isn't it LIGHT! (erm...in hindsight make that small and cheap-looking and fragile feeling). It did play the promised downloaded dodgy pirate format films OK but the battery life wasn't good enough for more than 30 minutes- ah well, so I'll just have to power it through the USB socket- not a problem. The MP3 player menu structure was bizarre and the direcctory structure was alphabetical, ignoring the order songs appeared in an album which was annoying but Meh. It was actually powerful enough on the headphones output to be Loud, and the EQ settings were quite good as well- no eardrum-preserving gain reduction here! Carry on.

Then the touch screen stopped working and after numerous recalibrations if still had a massive offset. Then the chrome trim around the screen popped off (cheap nasty glue). The games were shit. The radio reception was awful. The photo viewer auto-rotated pictures incorrectly. The camera resolution was a pitiful 320*240.

But still, £40 eh?

As it turns out, where it still functions- it's still usable as a rather fat 4 gigabyte memory card (mini USB lead permitting) and so I do not feel totally ripped off. But the moral? If it looks too good to be true etc. then even if it seems good on the surface, it won't last.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 18:58, Reply)
blackberry storm
I'd rather have a phone from 5 years ago. Less than 100mb application memory, about the same for device memory. I have to do a hard reset every day and the touch sensor is off by half a finger.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 18:21, 1 reply)
Gadgets. Is it a bloke thing?
I started young. When Sony launched the Walkman, it wasn't long before copies came to market. Some good, some not so.
I bought a Binatone. It worked just fine for a few months before wow+flutter made everything sound like a tremolo effects pedal had been added, then the volume began to fluctuate, so it sounded like a Leslie speaker.
More recently:-
An LED torch that worked for all of 5 minutes before the threads on the casing smeared under the spring pressure from the batteries. That cost 1.99 from a petrol station. Impulse purchase. Still, the batteries must be good?. No. Yucking fuseless. I essentially paid 1.99 for a white LED.

An Eken M001 tablet, second hand from ebay. Actually quite good aside from the dreadful resistive screen, dog slow processor, lack of memory, lack of USB port and after a months casual use, a battery life of 20 minutes. I'd stick Linux on it and run it as a photo frame if it didn't get worryingly hot during charging and use. Not quite good at all. Shit really.

A battery powered tin opener. I damaged my right hand and couldn't use a normal tin opener. Trying left handed proved impossible for my ill co-ordinated self, so wifey bought that to help me out. It took about 2 minutes to open a tin. It lasted all of 3 months. I went back to using the 'G.I' opener I use when camping. Pity I didn't remember I had it before that pile of pants was purchased.

My children love things that beep. I'm not so enamoured. Cube world, pocket pets, Ben 10 wrist thingys. All died. Very limited play value, very short life. One trick ponies where the trick become tedious rapidly. Pester power to buy them, then will it break or will they get bored before the batteries die.

Alba portable CD player. Works fine from its mains adaptor and is supposed to be able to charge Ni-Cad and NiMh batteries. It does, to about 50% of their capacity. It then drains them in about an hour.

Cheapo MP3 player. Small, 2GB capacity, good sound. No support for directories, which makes having more than 1 album on it pointless. It reset itself to Chinese for the menu. The manual made no mention of how to reset to English. I took it to my local chinese takeaway and they reset it to English for me. It then took to losing all data. I took a hammer to it.

Wifey keeps buying crap from the Kleen-eze catalogue. She bought me a vibrating neck massage collar. It was so loud and uncomfortable as to be unusable, So poorly made, we couldn't even use it as an impromptu flange flicker.

When I dropped my slide scanner, I bought a cheapo one from Maplins. Took it back.

An endoscope/borescope from ebay ( theme here ) with a 10mm head. Absolutely useless picture quality. It died on first use as the lens wasn't oil resistant. Why make a borescope, advertised for use with engines, which isn't oil resistant?. Got my money back on that one.

Universal remote which only operates the television. Bluetooth earpiece/mic, boxed as Nokia. Having used a -genuine- Nokia bluetooth earpiece/mic previously, I thought this'd be fine. I was ripped off. It was a cheap, shit knock-off.

Non genuine Sony playstation memory cards. All aside from a Memor32 have proven shit.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 17:34, 3 replies)
QVC + weed = third degree burns.
Thankfully, this happened to friends of mine, and not yours truly. Way back when QVC was a new entity, filled with the siren call of useless gadgets, my friends embarked on an evening of heavy smoking and channel surfing, unfortunately paired with easy access to their credit cards.

So, it was inevitable really. They purchased a candy floss machine.

Several days later it arrives, and (once again) armed with an ample amount of pot and a minimal amount of sense, they fired up the machine. Scenes from films flashed before their eyes, children, happy, laughing children, swirling their hands inside machines filled with pink fluffy clouds of sugary heaven, fingers coming away dusted with light, sweet strands of joy.

Wrong. Think more along the lines of Apocalypse Now, the carnival years. It was, apparently, like plunging your hand into "a pink napalm machine".

That must have been a decade ago now, and I still chuckle about it every time I see QVC.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 17:22, 1 reply)
My first MP3 player
I bought around 10 years ago was one of the first MP3 players that was relatively affordable. It had a *massive* 48 megabytes of memory (about enough for an album in low quality) and connected via the computer's parallel port using a docking station (and therefore took sodding ages to copy songs onto). As for the screen, as far as I remember it just had two numbers to show you which track you were on, and the time. I think it cost about £50, and was obsolete within the year.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:57, 3 replies)
Toasters - all of them
I am now on my fourth toaster in two years (after the last one, the most expensive so far, spectacularly exploded), because I can't find one that is correctly sized to fit the bread.

They all seem to toast just the lower three-quarters of the slice. So you have to turn the bread over and toast it again, risking over-doing the middle.

I mean, SURELY when you're designing a toaster, the starting point is to get a standard, normal-sized slice of bread and build the machine around those dimensions? Apparently that hasn't occurred to anyone so far.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:48, 25 replies)
Norton Anti-Virus.
No, I'm not very computer literate.

You may now laugh.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:45, 9 replies)
Allright, here's my first offering:
"Pound shop" batteries.

Despite carrying any number of meaningless adjectives on the packaging, these 'Heavy Duty Super Plus Ultra Power' little tubes of shite seem to carry about as much usable charge as a stray fart. The "1.5" optimistically printed on the side is, in fact, the lifespan in seconds.

It's a small wonder when, if you do manage to get some light from a torch given a fresh set of these worthless wonders; the feeble beam of light doesn't just give up and curve to the ground, as the tragically underpowered photons lose their struggle agaisnt gravity.

As for digital cameras, you'd probably have better luck trying to run one off a battery bay full of urine, than with these typically zinc carbon/chloride failures - although even the rare-find alkalines are no guarantee of decency.

According to wikipedia, Zinc–Carbon batteries account for 6% of all primary battery sales in Japan. In the UK, it's 20%. Why are we so tolerant of these useless waste-generators?

TLDR: Aren't cheap batteries crap?
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:41, 8 replies)
Baby alarm
Didn't work - she still got pregnant.

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:34, Reply)
My wife buys stuff off the telly
She got one of those paint rollers with an edge thing to stop the paint going on the ceiling.
Bastard thing scratched the ceiling so I had to paint it.

Then she got one of those roller which holds the paint in a reservoir.
10 attempts lter and finally with paint the consistancy of water it worked. Only thing was it was so watered down I had to do 8 coats to cover the wall properly.

Both went in the bin, still have the wife though.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:30, 4 replies)
memory foam mattress
what's so comfy about feeling like you're being sucked into the bed? it moulds itself around you, meaning that you feel trapped and claustrophobic, especialy if you're pissed or the weather is hot.
you can't fucking move!
i want to sleep, not play the great escape!
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:27, 18 replies)
Anything made by ALBA
I started with a dual tape machine with built in radio and detachable speakers. The brackets on the speakers broke so they wouldn't attach properly to the main body so I couldn't carry it around any more. One of the tape deck broke so I could never do "high speed" dubbing. This was actually rather good as when I had managed to do "high speed" dubbing one of the tape decks was slightly out of time so everything sounded just a little bit speeded up. No pirating of mates tapes for me.

Then the radio failed and produced nothing but static unless I was within 30 feet of a transmitter or the programme was in Spanish or Arabic. All this within 6 months of buying the thing.

I then stupidly bought a walkman by ALBA that ate all my slightly speeded up pirated tapes. But hey, at least they were cheap!
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 16:02, 12 replies)
Chocolate fountain.
Not the type you're probably all used to on here, but the three tiered bowl thing that apparently makes a chocolate waterfall after you filled it up. Never used it, was a present from someone that obviously didn't have a fucking clue. Stupid machine, apart from you have to melt all the chocolate before putting it in, you must have a certain amount in it for the waterfall to pump around, so that's all wasted afterwards unless you lick it all out. Then you'll have to wash the fucker out afterwards, wasting even more chocolate. So I figured that you'll probably lose a good 30% of the chocolate you put in it to DIP YOUR CUNTING MARSHMALLOWS IN, who the fuck wants to do that anyway? Just eat the chocolate ffs.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:58, 9 replies)
When we moved two years ago
We got a new telly with built in freeview.

For some reason it won't pick up Film4 or ITV4, and the local BBC news is from Newcastle and Cumbria rather than Leeds/York.

I've re-tuned it half a dozen times but no change.

Any ideas b3tans?
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:53, 23 replies)
Internal Freeview ariels
I've had two and for some reason they only seem to be able to pick up some jewellery channel and BBC Parliament.

With an analogue signal, you could at least get some semblance of a picture and watch, even if it was through a haze of snow.
With Freeview, it's shit or bust.

You waggle the ariel, get a picture on the channel you want, then as soon as you let go, or at worst when you sit back in your chair, the picture freezes, blocks up, and you get the 'No Signal' message.

"They" assure us that when the analogue signal is permenantly switched off, the freeview signal will improve.
I'm not convinced.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:46, 11 replies)
Dyson Ball Cleaner - can fuck right off.
I ended up in casualty.

My testicles are shredded to shit.

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:45, 6 replies)
Beer/wine cooler
On sale at the end of summer, was this interesting looking device. You apparently put a bottle of wine or can of beer inside, switched it on and hey presto, almost instantly chilled drinkies!

Now even though it was remaindered and therefore cheap, I still must have been drunk, because simple physics should have warned me that it was extremely unlikely to live up to the description.

It turned out to contain a motorised bottle/can holder, which rotated said container, in a chamber which you had to fill with ice. So, not only was it useless, since 20 seconds rotating in ice is no better than 20 seconds standing still in ice, but actually doubly useless as it was sold for use at festivals or when camping -- where a supply of ice was extremely unlikely. Arsebiscuits.

After I'd facepalmed, it got shoved onto a shelf in the garage. The motor & gears were eventually canabalised for another project some years later.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:44, Reply)
My first mobile, a nokia ringo
It was shite, had no SIM card, that was just the number you had, started 083 for a start, which sadly I still know, anyway. Battery was measured in minutes, no such thing as SMSs in those days, could be listened to with a radio scanner, stored 10 numbers and a choice of 2 ringtones. And weighed the same as a large cat. It was shite.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:32, 5 replies)
Car radio
It works perfectly almost all the time. One notable exception was on a 464 mile drive from Dumfries to Newquay this summer. The radio got stuck on radio four during the birdwatching programme. It would not turn off or down. An hour of "And THIS is a black headed gull" *CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW CRAW* is capable of turning the mind to mush. I pulled in and switched off the car after twenty miles. No effect.

I got to Newquay in a little under seven hours. I did not stop again.

The radio was fine the next day...
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:06, 37 replies)
About 7-8 years ago
when iPods were in their infancy and an iPod nano was just the fevered dream of a rabid mad man, you could go on the internet and buy mp3 players that promised to be pretty much what a 3rd gen ipod nano is.

They were cheap, like £10 - £15, impossibly small and light, 2gb flash memory, played videos on a tiny screen and generally made you feel like a man from the future. They came from China, often preloaded with odd Chinese pop videos.

I think I bought three. Each smaller and sleeker than the last, none of them lasting more than a couple of weeks before the buttons fell off or the flash drive corrupted. One of them was rattling on the inside, and ended up shattered to a million pieces after I tried to prise it open to re-solder whatever had come loose.

Yes, I know I'm an idiot, for many reasons.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 15:01, 5 replies)
TV shopping channels...
...and my ex-wife.

I'd come home from work on a regular basis to find a large box on the doorstep, with the name of a TV Shopping channel on the side. Oh God.

The low point came with a frying pan that came with two paddles activated by levers - designed to flip your omelette into some kind of omelette sandwich so you can get it out of the pan in one piece. An act performed with reasonable accurancy for centuries by the humble fish slice.

A bastard to wash-up and utterly pointless, it's still there, barely used.

The lesson being: TV Shopping Channels are for entertainment only, and for feeling sorry for Tommy Walsh.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 14:55, Reply)

This question is now closed.

Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1