CES 2014: The Weird and the Less Than Wonderful

There's a lot to love at the world's greatest gadget-feast, but there's also a lot of rubbish, too

Don't get us wrong: for gadget hounds, CES is a vast Aladdin's cave of twinkling delight.

It's the event at which a good percentage of the year's most exciting gadgets are announced. But it's also, without fail, a chance to see some real howlers: tech that's confusing, frustrating, or just plain silly. For example...


X BOOM! X BOOOOM!! X BOOM GONNA MAKE YOU DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE For crying out loud Darren will you turn that thing down, or preferably off. Thank you.

Although LG has made previous iterations of its twerk-inducing X Boom party-in-a-box, this 3200 Watt sound system is a gigantic, tacky, LED-lit party in a box the size of two really large men, making it completely impossible to take anywhere and completely unsuitable for use as a regular hi-fi.

Good for: your Enormous Party Room

Bad for: any situation in which taste or floor space are a concern


It’s the size of a regular keyboard, but it takes months to learn to type on. You use it for your phone, which you can already type on (and pretty quickly, too), but without the Trewgrip, your phone wouldn’t be about the size of a small laptop, now would it?

On the plus side, board any sort of train with a Trewgrip and everyone will assume it’s some kind of accordion, and then maybe a couple of people will hand over some spare coins.

Good for: typing while walking, once you get the hang of it

Also good for: looking like you’re playing Bop It while typing


In itself, not such a bad idea: the sensor-equipped smartbrush reports your brushing style to the companion app, which tells you how well you’re brushing and how you could improve. In practice, one of a growing army of devices that will nag you throughout your daily life for not doing things properly.

<Bing!> “You might wanna try adjusting your walking technique, John.”

<Bing!> “Great sandwich, John, but try chewing each mouthful for longer next time.”

<Bing!> “I think that could use a couple more wipes, John.”

(John's cleaning the kitchen, obviously.) 

Good for: Brightening your smile

Bad for: People who grind their teeth when they’re annoyed


The best protection you can have against having your phone nicked is not the Yellow Jacket iPhone case, which contains a backup battery that it can discharge into a would-be mugger’s hand in a single 650,000-volt burst. The best protection you can have against having your phone nicked is insurance and cloud backup. Still, at least it’s not a gun.

Good for: electrocuting your own face by accident

Also good for: letting people know you’re a dangerous idiot

iTOi iPad case/periscope

You know how when you’re using FaceTime/Skype/Google Hangouts for video chat and you’ve put your iPad on the table so the other person gets a slightly unflattering, slightly upwards view of your face? Isn’t that a problem that needs fixing in the world? Isn’t that a problem that needs fixing with a really big piece of plastic and metal and mirrors?

Of course, instead of buying an enormous 'chat booth' for your slender tablet, you could put your iPad on a shelf. Or a book. Or you could sit in a slightly lower chair, or just not worry that much about how you look on camera.

Good for: getting rid of unwanted money, topping up your local landfill site

Bad for: accessing touchscreen controls, cupboard space

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