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Analysis

Top ten useless USB gadgets

Posted on 27 Dec 2009 at 00:00


Turn a Tengu upside-down and you’ll find a microphone in its bottom: the little chap uses this to listen to what’s happening in its immediate surroundings. And then it will start to lip-sync along to what you’re saying. Unless it gets into a mood and decides not to.

And that’s it.

Is it sort of fun for about half an hour? Yes. Is it worth £25? You know the answer to that.

Rating 2/6

3. Diamante mouse

Diamante Mouse
Price £29.99 inc VAT
Supplier IWantOneOfThose.com

Here’s the peripheral that design principles forgot. And we’re not talking about the way it looks.

Just for a second, let’s assume that you’re inexplicably attracted to its glittery charm. Put aside outmoded concepts such as style and taste and imagine that, yes, there are human beings who will see this and like the look of it.

And then pick it up and start to use it. The horrible truth will soon dawn.

It makes your hand bleed.

Okay, not bleed exactly, but it takes the biscuit for the least comfortable interface device in the history of computing. We suggest you give one to someone you don’t like.

Rating 1/6

2. USB Chameleon

USB Chameleon
Price £17 inc VAT
Supplier Thanksdarling.com

Imagine that you work for an electronic-toy and gadget company. Imagine that someone – your boss, most probably – asks you to think of an animal model that could attach to a USB port and do something humorous.

Now imagine that the animal you thought of was a chameleon. Great idea! Chameleons change colour – everyone knows that. So you could put multi-coloured LEDs in there to make it change colour according to its surroundings, or perhaps what was displayed on your monitor.

If, on the other hand, you’re the actual designer of this USB chameleon, what you’ll have done is make something that sits on your monitor, sticks its tongue out and rolls its eyes.

And stays exactly the same colour at all times.

Words fail us.

Rating 1/6

1. The Eco button

Eco Button
Price £9.99 inc VAT
Supplier Play.com

This little device is the darling of shoddily researched glossy magazine features everywhere. They froth at the mouth about how it can cleverly put your computer in standby, thus preventing lorry-loads of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere and pretty much saving the world at a stroke.

We at PC Pro, on the other hand, absolutely hate the Eco Button. And we hate it because it does nothing. Nothing, at any rate, that you can’t achieve by pressing the perfectly good standby button that already exists on your computer. Don’t have a standby button? Then set Windows to go into standby when you press the power button. It takes two seconds in the Control Panel.

Once you’ve done that, sit back and feel good about having saved the planet from the carbon dioxide generated in producing and importing these pointless pieces of junk, and bask in the glow of keeping the world’s landfill sites just that tiny bit freer of useless rubbish.

You’ll notice that the photo of the Eco-Button you see here is not in the same style as the rest of the gadgets. That’s because we got the rest of them into the building to look at and photograph. We’d been sent an Eco Button before, so we thought we’d just dig it out again and use that one to photograph. But when we looked for it, we discovered it had been thrown away. Which neatly proves a point. File under Eco Tat.

Rating Zero. Nothing. Zilch.

Author: David Fearon

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User comments

Last Xmas I was given a USB mini vac.
It is almost as good at removing fag ash from between the keys, as holding the keyboard upside down and tapping it !
Complete and utter rubbish !!

By laolitan on 27 Dec 2009

Coffer warmer?

I've been using a coffee warmer for years. I just sit the coffee cup on the power supply for my laptop.

By Jaydax on 27 Dec 2009

Oh dear?

"Stationary" shops? I suppose it's a literal description since shops don't move, but I can't help but feel you meant "Stationery" shops.

By Linux_User on 27 Dec 2009

Veho Microscope

I have that USB microscope in actual use in a physics lab - it's a very cheap (Amazon £40) way of getting pictures of small samples on a PC.

Unfortunately, the driver and software interface included leaves a lot to be desired, and as you say, getting things in focus takes a lot of patience.

By phantombudgie on 28 Dec 2009

USB Christmas Tree

Morgan Computers are doing a USB Christmas Tree for the princely sum of £0.99 including VAT:

http://www.morgancomputers.co.uk/shop/detail.asp?P
roductID=5649&CategoryID=412&SubCategoryID=

By jbarnett on 29 Dec 2009

I'm glad you covered that microscope; I had been toying with the idea of getting one of those as a christmas or birthday present for someone one of these years.

My flatmate got me a USB-cup warmer from freecycle a while ago, unfortunately I think it was broken... or maybe it's function was just imperceptible (I seem to remember it did cause a little 'device has stopped working' bubble to appear on the computer, I think that was all it did).

Stereo camera could be fun with a little image processing... seem to remember a microsoft tech demo with gaming applications some time ago.

By ptodd1 on 7 Jan 2010

So many usb gadgets

More and more it's the gadgets of the moment, gadgets connected to a computer by USB. Some of them are very helpfull and should be used by everyone. I recomend this website for Usb gadgets http://www.amazingadgets.co.uk

By AmazingGadegst on 26 Aug 2010

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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