The Apple Tablet and 10 Other Overhyped Tech Products

With Apple's much-hyped tablet just released, here's a look at some products that got way more hype than they deserved.


Big Buzz, Huge Letdown

Recently, Apple unveiled its tablet, bringing clarity to an overwhelming amount of rumor, speculation, and buzz. Steve Jobs got in on the hype, reportedly telling people that it "will be the most important thing I've ever done." He could be right; but if not, Apple's tablet will join a pile of products that suffered from more hype than they were worth. Here are some of our favorites.

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Apple Newton

Like any Apple product, Newton was hyped with clever advertising and word-of-mouth buzz. The MessagePad (pictured), released for the Newton platform in 1993, was essentially an early PDA, and certainly a good idea, but handwriting recognition problems blighted the device, and its $700 price tag was too hefty for people to care. Will a new Apple tablet suffer the same fate?


One Laptop Per Child

Though One Laptop Per Child's supposed $100 computer was meant for children around the world, techies of all ages became excited about such a cheap PC. Unfortunately, OLPC's XO-1 debuted at $200 on an unfamiliar operating system, and netbooks quickly became the standard for budget computing. OLPC's next endeavor, a $75 tablet, is barely a blip on the radar.


Palm Pre

Palm's Pre is the reason techies -- or the wise ones, at least -- no longer use the phrase "iPhone killer." It's too risky a bet, because even when a shiny new phone gets good reviews, it just might not sell. The Palm Pre Plus will fare better because expectations aren't as high.


Motorola Droid

Pundits largely avoided saying the Droid would kill the iPhone, but the Verizon Wireless marketing team implied it with aggressive ads that knocked Apple's creation. The result was 2009's most exciting smartphone launch, even though an arguably superior phone, Google's Nexus One, emerged a few months later.


Windows Vista

As with any Windows launch, Microsoft promised the world with Windows Vista in 2006. The company certainly has the right to hype at will, but when a product eventually becomes an industry-wide disappointment, you can safely say the Microsoft overstated its case.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Commercially, Modern Warfare 2 was not a flop. In that regard, the game rightfully earned its hype this year as the biggest entertainment launch of all time. Critics, however, recognized that the game was more of the same Call of Duty, especially when compared to the first Modern Warfare.


Nintendo Virtual Boy

In 1995, Nintendo rode the hype of virtual reality with the Virtual Boy, a tabletop device that was supposed to bring virtual reality home. The end product featured none of the head-tracking experienced in arcades, its display was a monochrome red, and extended play was rewarded with headaches.


The Segway

Inventor Dean Kamen told Time in 2001 that the powered scooters would change the way cities are built as cars begin causing too much congestion, and a number of big-name investors bought in. Now relegated to mall security officers and gimmicks for tourists, it's fair to say that the Segway has changed little except for changing hands -- it was quietly sold around Christmastime to U.K. firm JWH Holdings.


Samsung Q1 and Microsoft Origami

Hey, look -- it's another overhyped tablet device. After slowly teasing details and launching a viral marketing campaign, Samsung's Q1, which ran on a Microsoft platform called Origami, was lukewarmly received in 2006. Expectations were too high for the $1000 device, which couldn't find footing between laptops and PDAs. Sound familiar?


Apple iPhone

Want to know what's really scary about all the tablet hype? With the iPhone, Apple didn't stop the hype after revealing the product in January 2007, as the company continued to release tidbits of information until launch the following June. Whether you love or hate the iPhone, it's a product you probably didn't need to hear so much about, and we're in for more of the same with the tablet.

See related stories:

Tech Giants' First Products -- A Quiz

Top Apple Debacles

8 Gadgets That Will be Huge in 2010

Microsoft's History with the Tablet PC

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.