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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.

7. Overrated: Google Apps; Underrated: OpenOffice 3.0

Google's productivity web apps are great for teams working online that want to share calendars and documents. But Google Apps is online only and ulti¬mately is just a couple of applications. What we need is a full-fledged productivity suite that's completely compatible with Microsoft Office files, can work across multiple OSs, and is free. Oh, wait - that suite already exists.

If you haven't taken the time to check out OpenOffice in the past, you owe it to yourself to do so now.

8. Overrated: Adobe Photoshop CS4 ; Underrated: Paint.Net

Photoshop has been the gold-standard image editor for ages. It is continually upgraded with new features, and it remains one of the few image editors that supports four-color (CMYK) mode - essential for print work. But people who work online in three colors (RGB) don't need CMYK mode. All image editors - including Photoshop Elements, which costs a small fraction of what Photoshop CS4 costs - can handle RGB.

But why pay at all? Paint.Net is free. This small, unassuming program performs many basic image editing tasks, works quickly, and mimics the tools and functions that are found in other image editors (so it should be easy to learn).

9. Overrated: Windows XP; Underrated: Windows Vista

When it comes to Windows, there's no doubt users are dismayed by the needless bloat of Vista and would rather see Windows XP re-instated. But didn't everyone have the same critique of Windows XP when it first galumphed into public view like an unsteady rubber monster?

What did Vista get right? For starters, though the User Account Control feature is like an annoying little sister who constantly pokes you, it makes Vista more secure than XP. Vista also trounces XP in handling mobile devices, networking, multimedia files, and photos. On top of that, it has a cleaner, more navigable interface - one eerily reminiscent of a certain Mac operating system.

10. Overrated: Streaming video; Underrated: Blu-ray disc

Streaming video gets all the buzz: from YouTube to even being able to catch the Beijing Olympics via a PC!

But we haven't seen streaming video images as impressive as those on Blu-ray disc (and Blu-ray audio rocks, too). The detail, clarity, and depth of Blu-ray trump the lower-bit-rate product that streaming video offers every time. That's not to say that streaming isn't convenient: You just click and go, with no packaging to fuss with and no disc to load. But with Blu-ray (the successor to the DVD), you don't have to worry about broadband-network data caps or hiccups in the service.

  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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