Annoying hardware: a rogues' gallery

Annoying hardware: a rogues' gallery

Summary: Hardware may be less 'in your face' than software, but it can still ruin your day. We've listed our main bugbears: let us know if you agree.

TOPICS: Hardware, Reviews

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  • Hardware Hell
    Bad software is annoying because it's in your face. Bad hardware is more subtle in its evil: annoyances that seem trivial at first can build over time like a pebble in your shoe into an eternal shaft of dismal misery. You'd hope that after quarter of a century of PC design, the worst excesses of thoughtless engineering would be behind us. You'd hope wrong. Here are just some of the mishaps that continue to take the shine off the technology that changes our lives.


  • Notebook input devices
    Good notebooks have some of the finest, most aesthetically pleasing engineering to be found anywhere. So why do makers keep messing up the bits that really matter? Keyboards are crammed in too tight with oversized keys you never use and tiny, shifted ones you need but can't find. Spacebars are the size of cocktail sticks. Mouse buttons are placed where only a six-fingered mutant could reach them. Touchpads migrate to the side of the screen. The list of sins goes on and on — and with the advent of MIDs, UMPCs and other bizarre perversions, it can only get nastier. The people who perpetrate such nonsense should be forced to use nothing else for a month — or until they go nuts.


Topics: Hardware, Reviews

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • Styluses are even worse...

    ...when they come with a smartphone.

    You hold phones in your hand. You maybe use two hands, squirrel-like, when you want to text. So why do some phones insist that some operations need you to pull out a toothpick from the phone, and poke the screen with it? At the same time? How many hands do they think we have? And where do we put the phone while we're doing this?
  • And while we're talking about USB...

    ... why are there so many kinds of USB?

    As well as the normal connector, there's another kind for printers, and at least three smaller versions. I have devices on my desk that need all of these, so that's four USB cables I have to keep in a drawer.

    Add in the fact that, for most phone manufacturers, none of these is good enough, so I also need to keep USB cables for Nokia and Sony Ericsson in the drawer too.

    The one I want is always borrowed, lost or impossibly tangled.

    Is it any wonder the IT industry nurtures impossible dreams of cable-free UWB?
  • Now I know I'm getting old

    ... I actually agree with everything said here :(
  • Annoying hardware: a rogues' gallery

    The main reason we have so many choices is really quite simple... employment. If we didn't have so many choices we could eliminate 9 out of 10 designers, 9 of 10 companies, 9 of 10 writers ... understand ?
  • "Touchpads migrate to the side of the screen"

    If only this were true! Most laptops still have the touch pad firmly in the middle. Yes the symmetry looks appealing but usage is a nightmare. When typing lots of text, my hands touch the track pad and the mouse pointer dances all over the screen. Fortunately, Linux allows me to turn off the trackpad, but I would dearly love a laptop with a trackpad offset to the extreme side. Or bring back the "tit" mouse; you couldn't accidentally move the mouse pointer with that. A good idea consigned to the bin of history.
  • Great

    This article has a lot of interesting points
    but there 1 or 2 items that I use and find usefull
    but in general I agree 100% in your observation
    as you say annoying...cordless keyboard for e.g.
    gathering dust.. use the mouse to charge my batteries
    the god dam thing was too unresponsive!
    anyway good article
    enjoyed it
    Rog :)
  • Texas Heatwave hmph!

    While you're blasting the VGA gamer cards how about the freaking CPUs that dim the lights when they kick on?

    A Texas heatwave is a cool breeze compared to the heat that blows out of the back of some quad cpu equipped servers I know. And yes I know Texas heatwaves, been living here since 1966.
  • For me the IDE cable is the one

    To remove it from the HDD you have to tug at the ribbion bit of the cable right next to where the connector is. I have lost count at the number of times the back has snapped off and left the rest of the connector in the drive.

    Then you also have the technique of starting the removal process on one end which means you have bent pins. So to reinsert the thing you need to start with the same angle you removed it with. Or you can take a screw driver to the pin and hope that you don't snap it, trying to straighten them. The joy! Thank god for SATA!
  • re: bigfootman

    Here I strongly disagree with you because in the last {mmmfty mmmmf} years I have never had a connector to an IDE drive fall out or make bad contact. I have had this happen on several occasions - in the last year alone- with the pathetic apology of a connector that SATA drives use ... with predictable consequences.
  • Yus Phone companies annoy me..

    Why do they insist on having 101 different connection classes, USB's where invented to stop that nonsense. Hmph.