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Top 10 products we wish we could un-invent

Companies have a habit of producing products that no-one needs or wants. We round up the best examples of pointless tech kit.

The BBC show Dragon’s Den always makes us chuckle, especially when mad inventors pour their life savings into developing products that no sensible person would ever consider buying. Well, the big brands are often guilty of the same thing: here are our top 10 tech products that clearly haven’t been thought through.

10. Vistaquest Digital Single Use Camera

Disposable cameras are rarely seen these days. People seem to think it’s a great idea to hand them out at weddings, but the cost of developing the film only to reveal hundreds of blurry, drunken scenes is surely not worth it. Quite why Vistaquest thought it was a great plan to launch a single-use digital camera is beyond us. It stores 40 one-megapixel shots, but ceases to function the first time it’s connected to a PC. This is bizarre enough, but the quality of the photos is utterly appaling.

Since just about everyone has a camera on their phone these days, it’s inconceivable why anyone would want to shell out ten quid on a worse-quality disposable version.

Disposable digital camera
A single-use digital camera is an oxymoron. It doesn’t help that the photos are awful, too

9. Battery Life Activator

This was one of those ‘too good to be true’ products. It was a thin piece of foil that that you stuck to your laptop or mobile phone battery to improve its life by up to 40 per cent. Back in 2005, we were told that the “precise mechanism or operation is not understood”, while the manufacturer’s website contained a lot of technical information that didn’t clarify much.

We tried it on a mobile phone and laptop and found – surprise, surprise – that it made precisely no difference at all. If you want better battery life, you’re better off spending your money on an additional battery, not this.

Battery Life Activator
Sticking some expensive ‘magic’ foil on your battery is a surefire route to disappointment

8. LightScribe

It might be a little harsh to call LightScribe pointless, but it certainly comes close. This HP technology, which found its way into many DVD writers in recent years, allowed the user to flip over their CD or DVD once burned and use the laser to etch an image into the other side of the disc.

It doesn’t sound too stupid, but not only did it require special LightScribe discs (these are around twice the price of ordinary CDs or DVDs) but it could only create several shades of grey. This meant it wasn’t much use for images – only text. It also took up to an hour and a half to burn the image, depending on the drive and design. Far better to take a CD pen and scrawl on it, or use an inkjet printer to produce a decent full-colour sticky label.

This image ain’t worth waiting an hour for, let alone the extra cost of the special disc

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