The Worst 5 Gadgets: #3 Sony Playstation 3 (slim)

Good times
  • The web browser is quite good, allowing streaming from the web
Bad times
  • Cannot stream video files across wireless without unacceptable stuttering
  • Constant download and installation of system updates
  • USB ports are only on the front, making connection to multiple devices a messy business
What I should have bought
  • Maybe an Xbox. But probably either an Apple Mini or a Dell Inspiron Zino HD 
This is going to be controversial.

As a gaming machine, I am sure that the PS3 is nigh on impossible to fault. But Sony sell it as a games machine plus a fair bit extra. Not being a gamer, I am interested in the 'fair bit extra' and it is here that the PS3 falls down.

The PS3 is sold as a media device. In relation to video media, one of its tricks is to pick up media servers effortlessly, as long as they are DNLA compliant. I found no fault in this claim. And while streaming music over a wifi network is a rewarding experience on the PS3, it cannot cope with video. Not even standard definition video files play without prohibitive levels of stuttering. I am uncertain as to whether this is because of a generally slow wifi connection or the absence of a suitably sized buffer, but I can say that a media PC I have on the same network will stream the same file off the same server over the same wireless network without a single glitch. A trawl through the web tells me that this might be cured by connecting the PS3 to the network with a wire but, really, should I have to?

The constant updates to the operating system and the front-only facing USB ports are annoying but would be a small price to pay for a media device that, heaven forbid, streamed video wirelessly.

It is a real shame because the PS3 has some real strong points. The browser is not perfect but handles enough formats to make it very useful to stream files over the web. The add-on PlayTV is a serviceable PVR and the Sony Playstation online store works ok, too. But it does not stream video over wireless so I use the thing once a fortnight. Maybe.

As a non-gamer, I may have been better off with a living room-friendly PC, like the Apple Mini or the Dell Zino HD.

At $600-odd (AUD) I find the price commensurate with the hardware on offer. But the PS3 does not do what it says on the tin and for this reason it gets the thumbs down.


The best five gadgets
  1. iPhone 4 smartphone
  2. Sagem PVR6240T PVR (as buggy as it is ...)
  3. Logitech diNovo Mini miniature QWERTY keyboard
  4. Logitech X-230 speakers
  5. Lacie iamaKey USB memory key
The worst five gadgets
  1. One For All URC-9900 Director (Mosaic) universal remote control
  2. Nokia N800 internet tablet
  3. Sony Playstation 3 (slim) games console
  4. Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 nettop
  5. Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset

The Worst 5 Gadgets: #5 Aliph Jawbone

Good times
  • Meh ... none yet, but that might be my fault
Bad times
  • The snazzy noise suppression tech relies on fitting the device in a certain way ... and I can't make it fit my head that way
What I should have bought
  • There is an argument that says no self respecting person buys a bluetooth headset anyway, so maybe the answer here is that I should have gone with the wired mike that comes with most phones
I can't even remember why I was in the market for a bluetooth headset. I was living in London at the time and not really driving. So after reading a bucket load of rave reviews about it, I bought the Jawbone.

The Jawbone uses a very snazzy noise cancellation technique that uses the vibration of your face to sense what it should be picking up and lets it through and rejects the surrounding noise. That's great. But for the life of me I cannot make it fit my head in a away that the thing fits in my ear and contacts my skin in the way that is needed. The Jawbone comes with a selection of ear support doodads and inner-ear rubber thingos, but I just can't make it work.

I am sure that this is down either to my stupidity, laziness, or the odd shape of by head. Nevertheless, I bought this thing and it now sits in a storage box somewhere around my home. And for that reason, it is - to my reckoning - a bad gadget.


The best five gadgets
  1. iPhone 4 smartphone
  2. Sagem PVR6240T PVR (as buggy as it is ...)
  3. Logitech diNovo Mini miniature QWERTY keyboard
  4. Logitech X-230 speakers
  5. Lacie iamaKey USB memory key
The worst five gadgets
  1. One For All URC-9900 Director (Mosaic) universal remote control
  2. Nokia N800 internet tablet
  3. Sony Playstation 3 (slim) games console
  4. Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 nettop
  5. Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset

The Worst 5 Gadgets: #1 One For All URC-9900 Remote Control

Good times
  • It was cheap, at around £30
Bad times
  • Atrocious battery life ...
  • ... compounded by using AAA batteries and no recharge cradle
  • So big that you could not hold it in one hand
  • Did I mention it came in a lovely gold colour?
What I should have bought
  • Nothing at all, really - is there any good universal remote control?
Some things are just not worth spending your money on no matter how cheap they are. And so it was with the One For All URC-9900 Director (Mosaic), to give it its full name. I picked it up from Richer Sounds in the UK on special at about £30. I am pretty sure it sold for well in excess of £100 when it was first introduced. The poor bastards who sprang that money ...

At such a bargain basement price, I did not expect it to do much. But one thing I did expect it to do was to last at least a month on a charge. No hope of that, then. As best I recall I was charging batteries every week on this puppy. If it had a recharging cradle this would not be such a problem. I might not even notice it at all, so long as I were diligent in replacing the unit in its non-existent cradle. But requiring AAA batteries to be charged up and ready to go made the situation untenable, really.

The URC-9900 is also huge: fat, heavy and just plain old large. My girlfriend of the time really struggled with this size. For me, it was just awkward. Aesthetically, my greatest concern is that it came in a garish gold.

You will notice that I have not mentioned functionality once. The URC-9900 was ok as far as universal remote controls go. But having played around with a few universal remotes now, I can't help but think that they are almost always less convenient than running separate remotes. Which is a shame because running separate remotes is not convenient at all.


The best five gadgets
  1. iPhone 4 smartphone
  2. Sagem PVR6240T PVR (as buggy as it is ...)
  3. Logitech diNovo Mini miniature QWERTY keyboard
  4. Logitech X-230 speakers
  5. Lacie iamaKey USB memory key
The worst five gadgets
  1. One For All URC-9900 Director (Mosaic) universal remote control
  2. Nokia N800 internet tablet
  3. Sony Playstation 3 (slim) games console
  4. Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 nettop
  5. Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset