Stuff at 15: Where are they now? 15 gadgets that failed to soar

Not every gadget gets to scale the heady heights – over Stuff's 15 years, we've seen plenty of could-have-beens. We've picked out the top 15
Palm Pre

Sega Dreamcast (1999)

Sega Dreamcast

Sega's online console was superior in almost every sense to its PlayStation rival – with an innovative dual screen controller, PowerVR graphics and even online gaming capability. But a lack of games hamstrung the console, while Sony fought back with the PlayStation 2. Sony was able to kick off a discount war – it developed all of its internal components in-house, while Sega had to buy in components from outside – while the PS2's DVD capability made it irresistable as a home media centre. Dreamcast was doomed.

We said: "There's nothing to match the Dreamcast – its graphics, its playability, its versatility surpass all before it. For now, Dreamcast rules."

DataPlay (2002)


This data- and music-carrying MiniDisc-alike was incredibly versatile, and tiny, too – at 32mm, it was just a bit bigger than a modern SD card. A lack of products capable of reading the dinky discs did for the format, though – the first MP3 player to use the format didn't come out until a year after DataPlay's launch. The fact that it cost 10-20 times as much as a CD-R didn't help matters – and the rise of MP3 soon did for physical formats like MiniDisc altogether.

We said: "MiniDisc is dead," and DataPlay is "the new format that will bury it," going on to say DataPlay is "the new floppy disk… with the discs' high storage you can expect DVD-style extras."

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

Nokia N-Gage

Nokia's attempt to create a gaming phone was bold – and ultimately misguided. Its confusing button layout was more suited to a phone than a handheld console – and you had to remove the battery to change games, a design decision that boggles the mind. A limited library of games and the widespread availability of rival portable consoles doomed it to failure.

We said: "Five stars for bravado and potential. We're hard-pushed to find fault."

PMG (2003)

Personal Mobile Gateway

The "Personal Mobile Gateway" concept was the anti-smartphone, a Bluetooth-connected portable hub that would augment other tiny, lightweight gadgets (dubbed Sleek Devices) with seemingly impossible power. Essentially, you'd carry around a device like a MiFi, which would connect to specialist devices like cameras, voice handsets and display units. History tells us we all preferred the smartphone. Mind you, with the rise of wearable devices and the modular phone, the concept might be due for a revival.

We said: "2005 promises to be the year when the PMG finally kicks off in MY."

Infinium Phantom (announced 2002)

Infinium Phantom

The Phantom was a set-top box that was supposed to download PC games directly. It promised much – nVidia graphics, a Windows XP-based OS and "the highest performance Intel motherboard," future-proofing so that you'd be able to play future PC games and a subscription-based gaming service. But the Phantom proved to be as elusive as its namesake, never seeing the light of day.

We said: "A 200-strong catalogue of titles would be very hard to beat."