The gadgets that don't make the grade

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Apple iPod
Apple 0800 783 4846
It's not that I hold anything against this MP3 player's compact, classy looks (left). Or that I bear a grudge against a gadget that can hold up to 1,000 tracks. I don't even mind the fact that it only weighs 6.5 ounces. My real bugbear is that it is only Mac compatible. OK, it's made by Apple, so what do I expect? And what's more, if I want to enjoy its fast download times (an entire CD takes just 10 seconds), you need a FireWire connection – something that the older, beige Macs (which were made before Steve Jobs rejoined at the top) don't have. Call me a cynic, but this sounds like a cunning plan to get us to upgrade our Macs in order to keep up with the Jobs's.
(Editor's note: Mediafour – – has released Xplay, which lets Windows machines access the iPod. It still requires a Firewire connection, though.)

Possibly the most over-hyped toy of 2001, the Cybiko has gone down a storm in the States, but has failed to make little more than a breeze on our more discerning British shores. Primarily aimed at the tweenie market, its garish colours seem desperate to prove what fun it is, while in reality it's little more than a gimmick. Essentially, it's a wireless communicator combined with a multiplayer gaming console and basic PDA functions. And when other Cybiko users are in the area, it lets you know so you can send SMS-style messages. But that's where the problem lies; you need to be within 50 metres for it to work, so for kids on the move it just won't cut the mustard.

Siemens C45
£150 with contract
Siemens 08705 334411
I desperately wanted to like this phone. I've used other Siemens models in the past and have found the operating system intuitive and easy to use. And what this phone offers on top is a truly personal service. Send a digital image of your gerbil and they'll return it plastered over your phone's snap-on cover. It's a nice touch, and sure to be a hit with the "kids". But using it just gets on my nerves. And it's all because the rocker buttons are too smooth and too close together, so that when you try to press one side, you invariably press the other. Aargghh! Trivial, I know, but very annoying. So my advice? If you want to buy Siemens, treat yourself to the SL45 and get an MP3 player to boot.