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10 overrated gadgets, and their better alternatives

What's hype and what's been overlooked

When it comes to technology, there's plenty of gadgets and gizmos that have earned huge amounts of initial praise, but don't live up to the hype. And for every overrated product, there's an equivalent that is vastly underrated and doesn't get the respect it deserves. We've put together a list of 10 most-hyped tech products available and the most underrated rival.

1. Overrated: Touch interface; Underrated: A good keyboard

Apple's touch-screen interface on the iPhone makes navigation easy, but who wants to type even a haiku on that screen? Instead of endlessly stabbing at a soft keypad, give the Sidekick a try. T-Mobile's qwerty keyboard remains the best one we've seen on any mobile phone - spacious and easily stowable. If only more smartphone makers would follow and improve on the Sidekick's design as our only complaint with the Sidekick is we'd have preferred a deeper OS and less emphasis on the teen scene.

2. Overrated: Nintendo Wii; Underrated: Sony PlayStation Portable

More than two years after their debut, Wiis are still tough to find in stores. In that time, Nintendo has released just enough great games (and non-games like Wii Fit) to tease gamers. Nintendo continues to develop new peripherals such as the WiiSpeak speakerphone attachment (coming this autumn), but the company says that only a handful of marquee titles will appear by the end of 2008.

In contrast, Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) continues to gain unique titles and cool features - if you have a Wi-Fi connection (having a PlayStation 3 doesn't hurt either). Now in its second generation, the PSP offers Skype, internet radio, the ability to upload movies from a PS3 directly to your handheld, and downloadable translation travel packs. Plus, you can play games remotely and view content stored on your PlayStation 3 over a Wi-Fi network.

3. Overrated: Mini laptops; Underrated: Ultraportable laptops

A serviceable, compact laptop for around £300? It sounds tempting if you're on a tight budget and have modest processing needs. Mini-laptops are small and easy to love. But try doing anything fancier than sending email or composing a document, and you'll long to upgrade to an Etch A Sketch. Intel's Atom CPU gives very small devices decent power - but hundreds of pounds to do a handful of tasks adequately? Hmm.

Meanwhile, full-blooded laptops that can easily outperform a mini-notebook are getting more affordable every day. For example, Lenovo's X61, a 12.1in ultraportable, sells for about £1,100. It offers more flexibility and will resist obsolescence better than any current or near-future mini-notebook will.

NEXT PAGE: Why iTunes is overrated

  1. We look at what's just hype and what's been overlooked in the world of tech
  2. Why iTunes is overrated
  3. Why we prefer OpenOffice to Google Apps


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