Perhaps the greatest tragedy in tech are the heaps of gadgets tossed on the metaphorical funeral pyre too early. Maybe it was poor marketing, an unfounded lack of support, or simply bad timing that did them in, but whatever the case, they died much too soon. These four pieces of forward-thinking hardware were more a refinement on an already existing platform, and while in some cases bits and pieces of these machines have trickled into other products and services, but all of these gadgets share the fate of extinction. Poor, poor devices….
1) Sega Dreamcast
This is one of my all-time favorite gaming systems, and it’s death just doesn’t get any easier. I still own mine, it’s still connected to a VGA monitor in my game room, and I still happily play on it. The Dreamcast was superior to most other systems at the time: it had built in network connectivity, it could be chipped to allow Japanese games to play (which were — in many cases — better than the US games and some of which made full use of the Visual Memory Units with mini games for them). I loved and still love the Dreamcast, and while the original Xbox felt like its spiritual successor (just compare the controllers), the Xbox was NEVER the Dreamcast.
2) Sega Game Gear
Oh dear, my Sega Game Gear; a solid color handheld system, despite that fact that it would absolutely crush 6 (yes, SIX) AA batteries every three hours. I suppose that it’s fair to include the Atari Lynx since it came out before the Game Gear, so it was the first portable system to include color LCD before Sega released the Game Gear the next year. Granted the Lynx was cheaper and had a better battery life, when comparing the two systems. However, we know how this story goes: BOTH the Game Gear and Lynx were ultimately destroyed by Nintendo’s Game Boy. Kind of a shame though; the Game Gear was pretty neat.
3) Microsoft Zune
I never had a Zune, but I had friends who did, and to be honest, I preferred the on-device software on the Zune over the iPod’s software. It was easy to navigate and handled organizing music and podcasts very well, and I really wish there was an open-source variation of the software on the Zune that could be used on other platforms, like a hacked iPod. While the Zune was less forward-thinking as it was more late to the party, but the idea that the iPod was a superior to the Zune was less about quality and features, and more about popularity and marketing.
4) Sony Mini-Disc
I loved these little minidisc players, and I had some buddies who owned a few of them back in the late-1990’s and early 2000’s. The format was SO CLOSE to being a hit, but is now only looked at as a transition product when we were moving from CDs and MP3 players. Ultimately, the minidisc format just couldn’t compete with MP3 players on size or storage. Poor minidisc….