Top 20 Worst Fashion Gadgets Ever Part 1: From Bad to Atrocious

When tech and fashion collide, it’s not always pretty. In fact, sometimes, it’s downright ugly – and forget about actually trying to use it. From crystal-studded USB theft magnets, to phones that look like mutated children’s toys, we rounded up our top 20 techno train wrecks from companies that failed to make fashion function. This week, we scratch the surface with retro gone wrong, good ideas that turned out badly, and a certain iconic cell phone that never quite cut it. Click here to read Part 2.

JBL On Time20. JBL On Time iPod Dock

When you’ve got every company in the consumer audio market pumping out ten different varieties of an item like an iPod dock, you’re bound to get some idiotic models that are different for the sake of being different. That seems to be the case with the JBL on Time alarm clock, which looks a bit like an MRI machine for your iPod. We’ll give this one credit for actually working, but unless you live aboard the space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re guessing this one will be the ( Read our JBL On Time review)

Samsung Gold Olympic Phone19. Samsung Gold Olympic Phone

If ever an electronic device screamed “impulse buy,” it’s a luxury cell phone branded with the Olympics logo. You might as well buy a Valentine’s Day phone or a Halloween phone. Sure, your friends were impressed when you ordered up some pizza from your fancy Olympics phone to watch Usain Bolt tear the men’s 100 meter record to tatters, but five months later you’re just clinging to history. The Beijing Olympics in 2008? That was so 2008. (link)

Furni Alba Alarm Clock18. Furni Alba Alarm Clock

With such a dead simple function to perform, clocks make an ideal gadget canvas for designers, and we’ve seen some pretty elegant and impressive results. The Furni Alba is not one of them. We get the retro look they’re going for, but this thing honestly looks like a high school shop project cobbled together out of the guts from a garage sale alarm clock and wood scraps. We’ll play shop teacher and give it an F. (link)

Siemens Xelibri X8 Phone17. Siemens Xelibri X8 Phone

We should probably let this dead line of phones rest in peace, but it’s really too rich to neglect. Ignoring the understandably lame 2003-era specs (which were also lame at that time thanks to insides transplanted from other low-end Siemens phones), this thing just looks like an abomination: two connected circles, trimmed in faux gold, with only a directional pad for navigation – including dialing. It’s like an overgrown GigaPet. Not surprisingly, this was the last of the breed when Siemens killed off the Xelibri line in 2004. (link)

Optimus Maximus Keyboard16. Optimus Maximus Keyboard

This darling of the blogosphere had us just as smitten as everyone else, until we got our hands on one. Its enormous and tightly packed keys made us feel like we were trying to type with gardening gloves on – we just kept hitting the wrong keys. The cool factor could almost balance its handicapped usability, of course, if it didn’t cost about twice as much as most computers, at $1,877.43. (Watch our Optimus Maximus Review)

Motorola Razr15. Motorola Razr

The original is still one of the worst. Before these iconic phones were a dime-a-dozen, mobile veterans will recall Motorola hawking them for $800 apiece and billing them as ultra-elite fashion phones. And we actually like the way they look. Too bad the LCDs turned into a snowstorm of dust with use, the software was loaded with annoying bugs and quirks, and the laser-etched keypad buttons were an utter pain to dial with. Luxury, indeed. (link)

Wilkerson Furniture M21 Flat Panel14. Wilkerson Furniture M21 Flat Panel

We understand retro lust. Atari, enormous boomboxes and console TVs have a special place in our hearts too, but we just don’t remember them being this ugly. Wilkerson seems to have missed the old-timey feel on this set and instead nailed the “failed DIY project” look. This is the kind of TV that some guy builds in his garage, then posts 592 step-by-step photos on Flickr showing you how to do it in case you want to hack together your own monstrosity. Sorry, we lost you on Step 1: “Ruin a perfectly good TV.” (link)

Giorgio Armani Phone13. Giorgio Armani Phone

Look, Apple doesn’t try to design overpriced purple leather jackets and fur-trimmed trenchcoats, so we’re not sure why Armani tried to pull off an imitation iPhone. OK, so it’s a dressed up Samsung SGH-P520, but we still would have appreciated the phone without the $700 price tag and pretension that come with buying stuff stamped with an Armani logo. (link)

Oakley Thump MP3 Player Sunglasses12. Oakley Thump MP3 Player Sunglasses

This unlikely combination of sunglasses and an MP3 player seems like something a hyperactive middle school kid would sketch in the margins of his notebook after watching too much QVC. While we understand the logic between combining two devices into one, this hideous offspring of an MP3 player and sunglasses should have been aborted on the drawing board. And as if the plain black and silver variants weren’t enough, Oakley even had the gall to come out with tortoise shell, camouflage and tribal print versions. Stunning. (link)

Lillian Too's Lucky Dragon Phone11. Lillian Too’s Lucky Dragon Phone

What do you get when you roll mythology, celebrity endorsement and over-the-top styling into one device? This phone. Malaysian Feng Shui writer Lillian Too designed the Lucky Dragon Phone to “bring good fortune and be in perfect harmony with the new zodiac cycle’s energies,” which presumably makes a lot of sense if you’re the type of person who believes that pushing furniture around in a house improves energy flow. It had better be really good at improving good fortune, though, since just picking one up will set you back $350. We’ll let you judge its aesthetic value for yourself. (link)

That’s all for this week, but if you can stomach another round, be sure to return next week when we’ll dredge up the worst fashion tech we’ve ever laid eyes on, and crown the ultimate loser that trumps them all.


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