The 10 biggest gadget letdowns of 2011

Microsoft Touch Mouse
Oh dear, it's the Microsoft Touch Mouse

You know all about the best gadgets of 2011. You probably own quite a few of them, and you'll still be paying for them well into 2013.

But what about the numerous duffers?

What about the products that promised a revolution, talked the talk, appearing looking exciting in advert breaks during the football, but in the end only delivered a whimpering lump of nothing good only for your friendly local landfill site?

We like to be inclusive here at TechRadar, so here are the losers of 2011.

The biggest letdowns in tech of the last 12 months, the products that ought to be recalled not for safety purposes, but to preserve the reputations of the manufacturers involved.

If you get any of these for Christmas, it's a signal that not only does Santa Claus not exist, but also the person or people in your life acting on his behalf don't like you enough to carry out even the most cursory piece of research into products before buying.

1. Pentax Q

Pentax q

Pentax created a stylish and slim case for its mirrorless interchangeable lens debut, but the resulting images were barely above what you'd expect a decent digital compact to produce. And the Pentax Q costs twice as much as a quality compact. So it's half as good. Or twice as bad, however the maths of the situation works out.

2. ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pro

ViewSonic viewpad 10e

You'd think it was the messiah. Windows and Android in one convenient, fashionable touchscreen tablet! But no. It weighs (almost) a tonne, Windows 7 isn't ideal on a touchscreen and the Android implementation - through a virtual app - is patchy and prone to errors and runs poorly. The ViewPad 10Pro was a master of no trades at all. Don't believe the bullet points on the box.

3. Siri

Apple siri

It all looked very exciting and futuristic in the Apple launch announcement, but when Siri arrived on the iPhone 4S there was something... not quite right. Apple hadn't signed up a local business data partner for the UK, so a rather large chunk of the personal assistant's brain was left empty. The partially lobotomised UK Siri was therefore a bit of a disappointment. Just like every voice-controlled thing there has ever been.

4. Toshiba AT100

Toshiba at100

Toshiba took a place on last year's worst gadgets list with its appalling, half-broken Folio Android tablet and it's back once again with the AT100. Released in the US as the Thrive, Toshiba's tablet was at least a step up over the Folio, but it still managed to be bigger, bulkier, slower and more expensive than the numerous other Android tablets it was up against. Better luck in 2012, Tosh.

5. Sony Ericsson Mix Walkman review

Sony ericsoon mix walkman

Odd to see Sony Ericsson launching a cheap Walkman-branded phone powered by its Java-based OS in 2011, what with the Xperia Android range doing such a great job. The Mix Walkman therefore seems like a throwback to the middle of the last decade, further marginalised by a collection of bugs that made the phone reboot itself at random. Not all mobile phones are smart.


HTC evo 3d

The novelty 3D display works, no doubt about that, but the rest of the package is very underwhelming. The inclusion of two cameras makes the EVO 3D one of the biggest, fattest and heaviest smartphones around. It's one for the coat pocket only. HTC is the master of Android, though, making the EVO 3D an excellent performer in terms of smart features - but the huge price premium and bulky case mean smartphone fans would be better off with... any one of around 50 other Android phones released in 2011.

7. Lenovo IdeaPad K1

Lenovo ideapad k1

How can you go wrong with a 10" Tegra 2 Android tablet? Well, in Lenovo's case, you can mess the IdeaPad K1 up by putting in a dark screen, temperamental buttons, software that regularly crashes and locks up, and then wrap it all up in a case that's bigger and less attractive than the competition. Textbook technological underachievement.

8. Sony VAIO C Series

Vaio c series

The latest update of the VAIO C Series looks the part, with a great screen and solid build. But for around £700, you need more than two hours of battery life when running a word processor without Wi-Fi. And only managing an hour of uptime while under heavy load renders it about as useful on a long journey as carrying a luminous green paving slab in your manbag.

9. Samsung Chromebook Series 5

Samsung chromebook

The hardware is great on the outside - a typically lightweight and well-balanced Samsung chassis with a nicely sized 12.1" screen. The problem with the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 is on the inside. The Atom processor regularly struggles with many simple tasks, while the Google OS simply isn't yet advanced enough to take the place of a laptop or even the skimpiest of budget netbooks, offering very poor media playback support. At half the price it might battle the netbooks, but there are thousands of WIndows notebooks out there doing everything better for this kind of money.

10. Microsoft Touch Mouse

Microsoft touch mouse

A bit of a disaster for Microsoft, this one. The Touch Mouse is unresponsive and vague, which is the last thing you want in a mouse - especially one sold on its touch sensitive nature. You have to press so hard to make it register your touches that you can't help but fantasise about the reliable old microswitch, as you sit there accidentally reorganising your desktop thanks to the clumsy controls.