The 10 worst gadgets so far

Page 8 of 11

Number 4: Slipped Discs

DivX Enhanced DVD Players (1998)

Digital Video Express (DivX) was a train wreck from the moment it left the station. (It earned a 'dishonorable mention' in our story, "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.")

Circuit City's attempt to create 'disposable' time-limited DVDs went off the rails almost immediately--in part because the devices needed to play these discs (such as the Zenith DVX2100, pictured above) were $100 to $200 more expensive than a standard DVD player and required a telephone hookup to verify rentals.

Consumers worried that faceless corporations could track what they watched and when they watched it; studios and video stores balked at carrying films in yet another format. Within a year, Circuit City killed DivX, despite its being "a technological tour de force, easy to use and technically bulletproof," says R.J. Dunnill, who runs the ironically acronymed Divx Owners Association Web site. The DivX name was later adopted by DivX Inc. for a video codec still in use today. But don't be misled by competent latter-day naming-rights holders; the original articles were the real stinkers.

DivX Enhanced DVD Players

Photo: Courtesy of R.J. Dunhill

Next: Dial N for Nerdier Gaming

Republished with permission from PC World. (View original version.)

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