10 Biggest Gadget Design Fails

A fair number of companies that read our product reviews tell me that they take our criticism to heart to improve their wares. That’s flattering to hear, but I don’t think the message is getting to the right people. How do I know? Companies continue to send us new laptops, tablets and smartphones that exhibit the same annoying design flaws over and over. Consider this list a polite but forceful intervention.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Tsais Says:

    I want to add something: The Sony Vaio S series, which is otherwise beautifully designed and packed with useful features has a pretty noisy fan… and why? Cause when you raise the laptop’s display lid, the lower edge of the display pivots down behind the laptop, partially blocking the freaking cooling vents!

    Still, I think you have to forgive companies not to follow every reviewers pet complaint. I’m not actually taking issue with what you mentioned here, but there are other things:

    A lot of reviewers keep marking laptops down if most of the connectors are in the rear instead of on the sides. Just because they’re too lazy to move their clumsy hands behind the laptop to plug something in, they are expecting the rest of us should prefer our desks left and right of the notebook to turn into a snakes nest of cables?
    We use the space next to our laptops for work stuff! And the mouse, of course, which is much easier to use when there aren’t a bunch of cables criss-crossing the area.

    I’d say connectors belong in the rear! Maybe a card reader, a headset jack and MAYBE one USB port for the super lazy could be on the side, but that’s about it.

  2. Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    I couldn’t disagree more, Tsais. If you use your laptop only a desk, I suppose having the ports in the rear isn’t that bad. But if you’re going to be mobile, it’s just a pain to have to reach around the back. Even when stationary it just requires more effort than is necessary. If you want a more streamlined solution a dock is good for that.

  3. Ed Says:

    I think a big design fail in Windows based laptops these days is cooling.

    The word “laptop” suggests its intended usage….but when the air intake is on the bottom, you only suffocate your CPU of cooling when you use it on your lap, or any non-rigid surface.

    I do call testing in my vehicle. I need to carry a square piece of MDF on my passenger seat in order to allow the PC to remain cool. And even the gap from the standoffs is not enough. I often have to prop my Dell up on something to allow better air intake.

    I’ve seen this in Dells, HPs, Compaqs…but not Apple where the intake is in the back side assembly.

  4. tash Says:

    The protective dust covers are to keep dust and other micro contaminants out of your systems hardware which can pernanately damage tour device

  5. Nishant Says:

    Another thing is protruding out camera lens on the back of the smartphone. This results in camera coming in direct contact of the surface it is being placed on, the LG optimus 2x for example.

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