The worst of CES 2013

Here's a look at the gadgets and gear that didn't wow us at CES 2013.

Not every product at CES is a winner

If you've been following CES, chances are you've seen some pretty awesome tech in the news—from concepts not yet ready for production to impressive products making their opening bows.

But the show floor is also littered with fails, whether in the form of unsuccessful products or of poor presentation. To help you get a flavor of the worst stuff at CES, we review some things you won't be sorry you missed.

Ridiculous exergaming equipment

The popularity of motion-controlled games like Dance Central, coupled with the looming threat of childhood obesity, created a perfect storm of ridiculously elaborate game accessories that occupied a lot of ground at CES 2013.

One of the goofiest offenders was the GameCube, a free-standing harness from Intellect Motion that takes over your living room and allows the player to pull off ridiculous motion-control maneuvers, with support from by a complex system of straps and pulleys.

It’s too impractical to find a place in any normal living room, but it’s good for a laugh on a gigantic show floor. —Alex Wawro

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Fitness jumps the shark

Calorie-counting apps and pedometers are useful tools for tracking your health, but this year's slew of fitness devices definitely went overboard.

From a USB fork to a machine that vibrates your whole body in an attempt to “build muscle and lose weight,” CES was rife with gimmicks that won't help people get healthy. Less vibration and more innovation, please. —Caitlin McGarry

The return of Steve Ballmer

Nobody likes to say goodbye. But nobody likes a guest who won't leave either.

So when Microsoft bid a fond farewell to CES last year we prepared to turn the page—only to find Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bounding onto the stage during Qualcomm's Monday night keynote.

"The best goodbyes are short," Kasper Gutman tells Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. "Adieu."

Words to live by, Steve. —Phil Michaels

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TV or rent? You decide

After getting all excited about 4K TVs, I saw their prices—and had a serious debate with myself over whether it made more sense to do without one of these beauties or not to pay my bills for the next 10 years or so. It was a close call, but for $12,000, I think I'd rather have a roof over my head. Oh well—maybe I'll get lucky at the casino next year. —Armando Rodriguez

Is another handheld gaming gadget necessary?

Nvidia's Project Shield seems to be a cool, well-designed gadget, but in a world of smarter and smarter phones and tablets, we can't shake the nagging feeling that the world just doesn't need another handheld gaming device. On top of which, we suspect that this one will cost too much. —Loyd Case

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Sony's high-resolution snafu

We feel for Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, who trotted out the world's largest OLED display—only to have its crisp picture instantly toss up disconcerting error messages in front of a multitude of reporters.

No time's the right time for a demo glitch, but when you're trying to impress a skeptical audience on a big, big stage, the last thing you want them to be staring at is a BIOS configuration screen. —Phil Michaels

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Kids, watch out!

The iPotty is a children's potty with a built-in iPad activity stand. It's supposed to be used as a potty-training tool paired with educational apps.

Sooner or later, though, the little tykes will figure out that they can play Toca Train instead. Make sure you teach your toddler what the real purpose of an iPad is at an early age. —Leah Yamshon

Gadgets that let other people track your car

Audiovox's Connection Pro vehicle-monitoring system can help a dealership track when a car needs a check-up and alert the owner when it needs to come back in for maintenance.

But there's a reason many people don't go to the dealership for routine car service: Those places tend to charge serious cash. —Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

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Tween-hearthrob iPhone cases

If I had only seen them once, the image of these five oh-so-cheesy dreamboats smiling at me from the back of an iPhone probably wouldn't have registered on my consciousness at all.

But like a bad dream, it kept recurring: I saw One Direction-themed iPhone cases on display in at least three booths, which is probably two booths too many for normal humans being to endure without having it affect their sleep. —Leah Yamshon

Accept no imitations

When I passed by LiteBrix's flashing, blinking, spangling booth all I could think

Lego bricks are near perfection. But the effect of slapping LEDs onto a classic construction toy was to overwhelm my eyes and oppress my senses. —Amber Bouman

Expecting users to program your keyboard

Roccat is shipping the Ryos MK Pro mechanical keyboard later this year with some neat features, including a programmable per-key lighting system.

When we met with the Roccat folks, they showed us that the keyboard could light up in time with what’s happening onscreen—but they also noted that users would have to write their own code to control the keyboard (the SDK is included with every purchase).

Great gaming keyboards are awesome; needing a bachelor’s degree in computer science to configure one…not so much. —Alex Wawro

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Virtual laser keyboard falls flat

I was surprised when the CTX VK200 Keyfob virtual wireless keyboard wouldn't work when I tried it, just because I was wearing nail polish.

Shouldn't the product developers have taken that use scenario into account when testing early prototypes? —Leah Yamshon

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A boo for the Bluetooth toothbrush

I'm all for dental hygiene, but I'm not ready to invest $50 in a bulky Beam Brush toothbrush just to find out something I probably already know (that I'm not spending enough time brushing my, um, pearly whites.

Better to buy a good electric brush that will make better use of my brushing time. —Yardena Arar

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