Electronic products from hell

-December 09, 2016

We've all run across products—from ICs to TVs, and especially software, and especially in cars—where we asked, "what were the designers thinking when they designed this thing?" We often call these "products from hell."

In EDN's October 1, 1992 issue, Senior Technical Editor Dan Strassberg wrote an editorial, Designing it wrong: the fax machine from hell. It was the introduction to his four-part "Design-it-right" series, which was followed by Part 1, A tale of three multimeters (PDF).

Since then, EDN has published numerous articles about poorly designed products. Those that immediately came to mind were Glen Chenier's The scope...from Hell! and Michael Dunn's Why is everything junk? (Heat-pump edition). I once wrote an editorial for Test & Measurement World about when installing a keyboard tray, I found that I had to cut some pieces with a hacksaw to use the extendable mouse tray. Who designed and tested it?


The scope from hell, one of EDN's more infamous product reviews.

Surely, you have some "product-from-hell" stories. Now I'm not talking about fake or counterfeit products from no-name Chinese companies or even manufacturing defects like my car clock with a failed solder joint or systems where bad crimps resulted in fires. I'm talking about products from supposedly reputable companies who simply made poor design choices. Perhaps the product itself was good, but its documentation was impossible to understand, which was part of Strassberg's complaint about the office fax machine.

To get you started, here's a list similar articles.

So tell us your product horror stories. You know you have them.

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