Top 10 Gadget Flops

There’s alot to be learnt from failure, and the T3 website is doing its bit by rounding up what it considers to be 10 modern gadget flops.

amstrad-em-iler-w500.jpgThere’s alot to be learnt from failure, and the T3 website is doing its bit by rounding up what it considers to be 10 modern gadget flops.

“They promised so much yet delivered so little,” is the tagline, but some of the set surprised me. (The O2 Wallet payphone system? Really?)

Without giving the full list away, room was found for the Sega Dreamcast, the Segway, robot vacuum cleaners, and “Honda’s creepy metal child”, Asimo…

And here’s how they describe the Amstrad E-m@iler (pictured):

Having the misfortune to look like an early 90s IBM trying to dry-hump a telephone, the E-M@iler charged lucky users to check their email, once they’d wrestled their way past a calamitous keyboard and OS. Its USP – that it allowed anyone to email – looked out of date from the moment it hit the shelves in 2000.

View the full top ten

Just to remind you, here is a video outlining the proposed payphone system.



  1. Cheers Mike. Good points. Maybe if the search engines takes over the uiniverse, then maybe Google landline phones will be part of that! Convergence is definitely changing things and VoIP will surely play its part…

  2. I suspect the imailer concept may have it’s day sometime.
    The majority of mobile phones now can access e-mail.
    The biggest issue when we all use multiple communications devices is the frustration of not having your contact-list everywhere. Step forward Google. My Android phone syncs it’s contact and calendar information to my GMail account – a landline phone that does the same that can SMS or eMail as well . . . . Roll on a fully VoIP telephone network !

  3. That’s a good story, Alan. You dodged a bullet. Still a bit of a shame about the whole imailer thing though. I would still be great if my mum, as an example of a low-tech user, could send or receive emails through her phone. The concept is good, IMHO, which just leaves the execution…

  4. The imailer might have been a useful device if it wasn’t for the cripplingly high usage charges.
    Amstrad weren’t the only company pushing imailer-type devices.
    When I owned an ISP in New Zealand, an local distributor tried to get us to sell an american version. It was expensive (US$800), had a virtually unusable UI and required US$20k spend on ISP-side server hardware along with a $20k/year software license. The distributors took offence at my comments about it being an expensive, almost useless toy and it was sold through a major electronics chain.
    12 months later I read in a newspaper’s tech section that the chain was having to recall 2500+ devices due to the only ISPside server in the country having been switched off. It turned out that the ISP concerned had setup the server on a no-cost test basis and with none of their own users buying one of the imailers had decided it wasn’t worth paying license fees or the power cost of the hardware.

  5. Cheers Tom. I’ll take a look at the iRobot. I’ve never really clocked it. I would agree with you that the list is not ideal – I disagree with some entries – but as a maker of lists myself I know the intention is mainly to stir debate 😉
    But back to vacuum cleaners. Surely this is the exact place where, tin the future, robots should be used – domestic cleaning tasks. The servant of the house, rather than the master of our lives!

  6. Robot vacuums are brilliant – looking at the picture their problem could be that they bought a rubbish chinese clone rather than the original iRobot design. Look at the comments on Amazon from people who actually own an iRobot rather than a gadget site for halfwits.

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