Last year, I decided to post a wrap of the gadgets I’d bought or tested during the year that found a way to fail or disappoint spectacularly. That seemed to go over fairly well, so I’m doing it again this year, with the 2015 edition of my Festivus of Gadgets.
Apple iPad Mini 2
Once again, Apple made my list. Last year it was the exploding MacBook Air with the discontinued battery. This year it was my iPad Mini 2.
I really took care of this tablet. None of that torture I occasionally subject my other gear to, the iPad Mini stayed indoors (it was used almost exclusively for reviewing the news while I have a coffee in the morning), it was kept in a protective case most of the time — and a Smart Cover when it wasn’t — and I even put a Zagg invisibleSHIELD on it. It was never dropped or even subjected to temperature extremes.
All the protection and cozy living came to naught, though. One morning I fired it up and one third of the screen was covered by a white and black lines. Bad enough to be annoying as Hell (and give you a headache), but not completely blocking everything beneath. Looks like a loose connector or pooched digitizer, but it was a year out of warranty so Apple wanted $200 to fix it.
If the iPad was five years old or had been schlepped around in a backpack, I’d be okay with paying that. But for a two year-old device that’s lived the most pampered life imaginable? I don’t think so…
Belkin Grip Power Battery Case for iPhone 5
The Belkin Power Grip battery case seemed like a great solution to my wife’s iPhone 5 battery life woes. Charge up the Power Grip and it would go for three days or more without needing to be plugged in. And it provided a decent amount of drop protection. After about a year of use, the case just gave up the ghost. No gradual decrease in battery life, it just plain wouldn’t hold a charge.
House of Marley Chant Bluetooth Speaker
I’m a big fan of House of Marley gear, so this one hurt. I was sent a pair of House of Marley Liberate XLBT headphones to test out (they were great and you can read the review here) and the company threw a Chant Bluetooth speaker in the box. Cool little speaker, I liked the bamboo trim and cloth cover, sound was pretty good for something that size and it had decent battery life. However, I only had two (maybe three?) chances to recharge it before the USB cable just kept going into the speaker interior when inserted.
This was clearly something odd, so I took it apart and the USB connector for the recharger had snapped off the circuit board and was rattling around inside the speaker. If I’d paid for a speaker that only lasted for two or three recharge cycles before self destructing I wouldn’t be a happy camper. As it is, the Chant makes it onto my Festivus of Gadgets list.