10 of the most ill-fated gadgets

The HP TouchPad's premature demise has prompted us to reminisce...

HP TouchPad

Announced in February, on sale in July, already canned and being massively discounted in a fire sale. Quick work. Still, when the TouchPad had to compete with the all-conquering iPad, an army of assorted Android tablets and the cult-favourite BlackBerry Playbook, it's not really surprising.


Heralded by a disproportionately loud fanfare in 2004, finally on sale in 2005, and only 25,000 were sold before the PSP and DS totally destroyed it. A successor, the Gizmondo Widescreen, was announced but canned when parent company Tiger Telematics went bankrupt and one of its chiefs was exposed as a gangster.

Fusion Garage JooJoo

Starting life as the CrunchPad, the Linux-based JooJoo tablet was much anticipated. Shame it turned out to be a bit rubbish. It finally went on sale in April 2010 after a load of delays, by which time the iPad had arrived to show it how tablets should be done. By November it was dead, although a successor, the Grid 10, has been announced.

Nokia N-Gage

Way before the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Nokia tried to combine phone and games console. Sadly, it was ridiculous as a phone. Popping up in 2003, the N-Gage was basically a Series 60 smartphone shaped like an elephant's ear, but it did have some decent games. The tastier, teensier N-Gage QD came along in 2004, but by then the world was getting too excited by the forthcoming Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

Tonium Pacemaker

One of Stuff's all-time favourite gadgets, the Pacemaker nevertheless couldn't gain the audience it deserved – born 2007, died 2010. A pocketable digital DJ system, it was a genius idea, but perhaps too niche – and now looks outdated and unintuitive compared to apps such as Djay for iPad.

Sinclair C5

Sir Clive Sinclair may have brought computing to the UK masses, but his vehicular venture bombed. The electric-assisted C5 trike went on sale in January 1985 and was a dead eco-dream by August, with 17,000 being sold – mostly to people who wished they'd bought the optional rain cover.

Sega Dreamcast

The Dreamcast was ahead of its time when it arrived in 1999 (or 1998 if you were Japanese). It was the first console with a built-in modem for online play and had some amazing games, such as Skies of Arcadia, Soul Calibur and Shenmue. Yet production stopped in 2001 – the PS2 had arrived and blew it out of the gaming water.

Motorola ROKR E1

Touted as the "iPod phone" when it launched in 2005, the ROKR E1 turned out to be a whitewashed disappointment. It may have been the first mobile to play nice with iTunes, but it was essentially just an unimpressive Moto E398 with a new paintjob and firmware upgrade – and terribly hamstrung by a 100-song limit that was to stop it competing with iPods. Well that bit worked.

Apple Newton MessagePad

Apple was building PDAs before anyone knew what PDAs were. Various different models were introduced between 1987 and 1998, all featuring handwriting recognition and an ARM processor. Jonathan Ive, designer of the iPod, had a hand in slimming down them down over their lifespan, but they were still fat and overpriced.


When HD DVD went head to head with Blu-ray in 2006, we all knew there would be only one winner – the Blu-ray format championed by Sony's PS3. Despite early HD DVD players performing very well, and an add-on HD DVD drive appearing for the Xbox 360, umpteen PS3 owners were buying enough of the opposition's hi-def movie discs to mean Toshiba abandoned HD DVD in 2008.