The 5 worst products of 2016
Auld acquaintances to be forgot
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Well, 2016 is nearly at an end, and I'm pretty sure the only people who'll look back on it fondly are Chicago Cubs fans and anarchists. In a year so chock-full of garbage, it's easy to forget about the gizmos and gadgets that gave us the most grief.
In an effort to get our minds off the harsh realities of the year, we've compiled a list of the worst products we saw in 2016. Print this page out, put it in a time capsule, and then fire it into the sun; it's probably best we just pretended this year never happened.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 back in August, our hot take was that it was one of the best smartphones we'd ever seen. As it turns out, the only thing hotter than that take was the Note 7 itself.
Within a matter of weeks, reports of exploding Note 7s began surfacing all across the globe. The phone's 3,500mAh lithium-ion battery, it seemed, had a penchant for combusting without warning—a nightmare for anyone who, well, bought a new flagship smartphone hoping it wouldn't seriously endanger their health.
Samsung promptly issued a recall and began replacing Note 7s. For a while, the whole ordeal seemed like it'd blow over—that is, until the new phones started blowing over, too.
Today, nearly all of the remaining Galaxy Note 7s are bricked (making them some of the most expensive and dangerous paper weights you can own), and taking them on a plane could land you in custody. For a short period of time, the Note 7 might have been the best smartphone on the planet, but now, it's nothing more than a future bar trivia answer.
Mocoro Robot Cleaner
What's cute, cuddly, and spectacularly inefficient at cleaning your floors? Why, it's the Mocoro Robot Cleaner, of course! This fuzzy ball of failure is equal parts adorable and worthless, leading our robot vacuum expert to proclaim that it picks up about as much dirt as the shoes of someone who happens to be walking through the room.
Now, to be fair, the Mocoro cleaner also makes cute-sounding chirp noises while it rolls around your apartment failing to pick up any dust whatsoever, so I guess that counts for something. It's also relatively affordable, so if you're looking to turn your home into a weird, fuzzy fever dream, you won't have to break the bank to do so.
Exploding Samsung washing machines
Samsung's terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year began with exploding smartphones and culminated with exploding washing machines. As many as 2.8 million top-loading washers manufactured between 2011 and 2016 were recalled last month, leaving consumers high and dry while they searched for a replacement.
The culprit? Unbalanced drums that shook the tops of the washers clean off, including the popular Samsung ActiveWash series.
In a way, it's comforting to know that at least one ginormous multi-billion-dollar company is as eager to turn the page on 2016 as we are. Corporations: they're just like us!
GoPro Karma drone
Anyone who's ever stood beneath a powered-on drone has probably experienced some low-level anxiety about it suddenly failing and plummeting several stories onto their head. As it turns out, your fears were probably a little more rational than you once thought.
Last month, GoPro issued a recall for all 2,500 of its highly-touted Karma drones due to a "very small number of Karma owners [who] have reported incidents of power failure during operation." Owners can return their Karma drones for a full refund, which is a small price to pay for some peace of mind.
Truly wireless earbuds
The future is here, and it's never been easier to accidentally send your expensive tech through the washing machine. Between the Bragi Dash, the Apple AirPods, and the Erato Apollo 7s, 2016 was the Year of the Truly Wireless Earbuds. But despite their newfound rise in prominence, we're still not convinced that completely wireless buds are worth the cost just yet.
Why are we out on the hottest tech trend of the year? Because it's a product in search of a problem. Sure, early wireless earbuds came with a stupid half-moon necklace thing you had to wear, but most modern ones just have to earbuds that are connected by a single out-of-the-way wire.
By ditching one measly wire, "truly" wireless earbuds become enormously complex to engineer. Since each bud has to work on its own, you have to take everything that makes typical wireless earbuds tick, double it, and then squeeze them into two tiny buds. That means you get worse battery life, clunkier designs, higher costs, earbuds that are more likely than ever to get lost, and more fragile components that are likely to break down. With wireless earbuds already a reliability nightmare, "truly" wireless earbuds just don't make sense.