Gadgets have to work a lot harder to suck in 2019 than they have in years past. They have to bankrupt companies, reveal our data, or be so overpriced they even make Apple look cheap. The gadgets below did all that, but some went even further. Some were pointless Skymall dreck, and some nearly ruined much nicer and better gadgets.
So here are the nine most miserable pieces of tech from 2019. And if you want to know more about what didn’t suck, you can read about our favorite gadgets of 2019 here.
Ring’s pioneering video doorbell seemed like a good idea at first. The gadget let lazy people and paranoid homeowners alike see who was knocking without leaving the comfort of their couch or panic room. Few could have guessed that Ring would partner with police departments, making it easy for cops to confiscate home security footage. Ring also launched a neighborhood watch app that enables profiling and has failed to protect its network from hackers. That and the fact that Ring is now an Amazon-owned private surveillance company that feeds on America’s worst fears. That once good idea is now very bad. — Adam Clark Estes
We all knew Moviepass was a grift, but in 2019 it truly imploded in spectacular fashion. It barred folks from certain screenings, tried to prevent users from changing passwords, and to top everything off, leaked the credit card data for 58,000 users. After a slow, excruciating march to death, MoviePass finally bit the dust in September. In the end, MoviePass was the ultimate cautionary tale of something being too good to be true. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. — Victoria Song
Smartwatches are slowly and steadily nibbling away the marketshare of more traditional analog timepieces. But companies like Apple and Fossil haven’t put luxury watchmakers like Rolex or Tag Heuer out of business yet for the simple reason that most smartwatches are, well, ugly. Garmin’s MARQ line was designed to be a bridge between the two; luxury timepieces made from high-end materials like titanium and sapphire crystal that looked great on the wrist while providing all of the additional functionality of a smartwatch, and great battery life. Garmin delivered on most of those goals but opted for an always-on reflective LCD screen instead of better-looking display technology like OLED. The result was a great looking and durable watch with a face that was usually impossible to actually see without the sun directly overhead. It’s hard to spend $1,500+ on a watch that makes it hard to tell the time. — Andrew Liszewski
Intel finally launched Ice Lake this year, it’s long in gestation series of processors based on the 10nm process. They’re faster and more capable than anything Intel has put in a laptop before, but Ice Lake supply has struggled to meet Ice Lake demand so Intel did what its been doing for five years now, and released yet another iteration on its 14nm process, Comet Lake. While the processing speed isn’t shabby, the graphics performance is (when compared to Ice Lake), and putting it and Ice Lake, under the same “10th Generation” banner make for incredible confusion. — Alex Cranz
By all appearances, the polymer film on the original Galaxy Fold’s flexible screen was little more than a screen protector. But if you removed it, there was a good chance you had just sent your $2,000 phone to an early grave. Who knew a tiny plastic layer could cause so much damage? Well, Samsung for one (though I maintain gadget reviewers ought to know better than to aimlessly paw at brand new tech). Regardless, the Galaxy Fold’s thin plastic film ended up causing a ton of issues and forcing Samsung to delay the Fold for five months while it came up with a workaround. And that’s how a tiny film almost wrecked one of the most important gadgets of the year. — Sam Rutherford
Somewhere in the last few years, sleep tech has officially become a thing. There’s everything from built-in sleep tracking on fitness bands and smart beds, to connected aromatherapy gadgets. But the Somnox Sleep Robot is a bean-shaped robotic pillow that mimics a person’s breathing to help you fall asleep. Turns out, spooning a robot bean is more than a little weird—especially if you add in some of the audio tracks. You’d think it’d be soft and squishy, good for hugging, but the thing is both heavy and hard. Most nights it ended up on the bedroom floor. If you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll try anything for a good snooze. That said, shelling out $600 for the Somnox Sleep Bean is a folly that should be reserved for only the most desperate of insomniacs. — Victoria Song
Let’s get one thing out of the way: the Dyson Lightcycle is a very good lamp. It’s beautifully designed and can automatically adjust color temperature based on the time of day. Starting at $600, however, the Dyson Lightcycle is ridiculously expensive. Too expensive! For $600, you could outfit an entire home with smart lights that can do about the same things that Dyson’s little lamp can do and still have some money left over to pay the electric bill. So as tempting as it would be to call the Lightcycle a great gadget, that classic sky-high Dyson price tag just makes it a silly buy. — Adam Clark Estes
It’s a weird situation when a product does exactly what it claims to do, and yet you’re still disappointed. But that’s what happened when we tested Ember’s second-gen Travel Mug. It’s a lovely insulated smart mug with a built-in display, touch controls, and even a dedicated app that lets you set an exact temperature for your drink, a temp the mug can maintain for up to 3 hours. But starting at $180, is the Travel Mug’s temp control 10 times better than a typical $20 travel cup? Not, not really, especially since you still need a kettle to give Ember’s mug an initial reservoir of heated liquid. If the Travel Mug could start with cold water and turn it into a steaming cup of joe that’d really be something. But it doesn’t. — Sam Rutherford
Fans begged Sonos for years to release a speaker that could stream music over Bluetooth, and this year, Sonos did just that. Unfortunately, the speaker sort of sucks. The Sonos Move is a hulking, portable wireless speaker that works over wi-fi as well as a Bluetooth connection. While it sounds great and looks okay, the Move can’t compete with the many sleek Bluetooth speakers that sell for a fraction of its price. So even though those Sonos fans have one less thing to complain about, they might be better off with a UE Boom. — Adam Clark Estes