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The top technology disappointments of 2010

Old fashioned TV with 2010 text

We’ve had a cracker of a year for tech, but there’s also been some duds and disappointments dampening 2010’s technology darlings. The Which? Tech team has decided to run down their biggest disappointments of 2010.

A bunch of products and innovations launched this year – the iPad, iPhone 4, 3D TVs, Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move, internet tellies, to name just a few.

But there have been some letdowns, so we’ve rounded up some of the Which? Tech team to share their technological disappointments of the year. And that’s before they pick out their top technology successes on Thursday 30 December.

Al Warman: Window’s Phone 7 must try harder

Over the years Microsoft hasn’t had great success with mobile phones, and 2010 doesn’t look like it’ll go down in the history books (or whatever passes for history these days – Google’s cache or Twitter trends?) as the year Microsoft conquered your handset.

Launched to great fanfare, Windows Phone 7 failed to capture my imagination. While the user interface looked slick and intuitive, and successfully broke the Android/iOS mould, the handsets themselves were all hewn from the same slab of mediocrity.

Rival manufacturers fought to differentiate their phones from the competition with screens that were mere millimetres larger, or had a bit of extra memory. But nothing could disguise the fact that these handsets stuck resolutely to Microsoft’s minimum Windows Phone 7 requirements. So my end-of-year report for Microsoft’s mobile division: “Good effort, but must try harder”.

Andrew Vandervell: Cheap tablets, cheap cash-ins

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s often the cheapest too. No sooner had Apple unveiled the iPad, every man and his cheap Taiwanese-manufactured dog wanted in on the action. Clothing chain Next was the worst offender – its £99 tablet bordered on shameless profiteering and a Which? Don’t Buy was the least it deserved.

While some cheap tablets did fare much better, even they were still poor imitations of the real deal. Hopefully 2011, and the expected glut of tablets, will consign these dire cash-ins to the history books where they most definitely belong.

Mike Briggs: Quattron’s triumph of marketing over reality

Sure, there’s been worse TV tech this year (any retailer’s ‘own brand’ would do) but if it’s hyped-up nonsense you’re after, Sharp’s range of yellow pixel Quattron TVs are hard to beat.

Launched in a flurry of ads featuring sci-fi star Mr Sulu (of Star Trek fame and in lab coat for extra gravitas) Quattron’s ‘unique four colour sub-pixel technology’ promised to ‘deliver unprecedented realism in natural colour gradients’. Fantastic! Just a couple of snags; a) it was nonsense, and b) it looked rubbish.

Like injecting a satsuma with yellow dye to give it a more natural hue, Quattron drops ‘natural’ colours into broadcast signals that never had them in the first place. The effect? Lurid yellowy greens, sepia yellows, over-enhanced blue, and atrocious colour balance. It’s without doubt this years most egregious triumph of marketing hype over reality.

Ceri Stanaway: Universal broadband pushed back

This year brought unwelcome news to those of us whose current broadband service crawls close to dial-up speeds. Back in 2009, the then government promised all UK residents access to at least a 2Mbps connection by 2012 – part of a universal broadband commitment to help make us a “Digital Britain”.

In came the new government and out went any hope of broadband have-nots getting better speeds any time soon. A new deadline of 2015 was proclaimed as more realistic. There’s been a recent attempt to claw back some favour by upping the speeds we’re likely to get come 2015. But if you’re on the wrong side of the digital divide, five years is a heck of a long wait for a broadband service that the more fortunate among us have been enjoying for years.

Matt Bath: iPhone 4’s poor reception

At the dawn of 2010, it seemed Apple – poster child of the mobile industry – could do no wrong. Yet the summer launch of its hyped iPhone 4 saw the tech giant stumble thanks to what has been dubbed ‘Antennagate’. Sure, the iPhone 4 is a marvel, but it has a glaring Achilles heel. Held it in a certain way the mobile signal falters, resulting in dropped calls, patchy reception and frustrated phone users. Apple’s initial response? An email – reportedly from Apple boss Steve Jobs – telling a concerned iPhone 4 owner that he was ‘holding it wrong’.

The arrogance was disappointing and did Apple no favours. Apple finally capitulated by giving (whoppee) a free iPhone case to all its owners. Antennagate, along with Apple’s initial shabby denial of a problem, was a major blot against the technology darling. It’s one that may have buyers questioning whether iPhone 5 will be worth picking up, or simply hanging up on the brand in favour of something that can actually make calls consistently.

What was your biggest technology disappointment of 2010? Oh and remember to come back on 30 December for the Which? Tech team’s top technology successes of the past year.


Basically the 3D TV hype is all a disappointment,
the concepts are there, delivery and expensive silly glasses is are not.

Microsoft has an appalling reputation in so many ways the only solution is to change the name.

Plenty of companies have changed their fortunes by rebranding. In the 70s and 80s, Datsun had a reputation for producing cars that with great engines, but their bodywork often developed serious rust. Some other manufacturers had already overcome this problem by that time, so the name Datsun was not held in high esteem. In the mid 80s the rust problem was overcome and their cars were rebranded as Nissan, the name of the parent company. This brand has always had a good reputation (though that was probably helped by making cars in the UK.

If Microsoft can deliver quality products under a different brand name, I might consider making a purchase, but I will not buy anything branded Microsoft or Windows. For the record, I don’t have an iPhone, simply because Apple has made it impossible for me to pop in a spare battery.