Five Gadgets That You Buy and Never Use
If you’re like most gadget enthusiasts you have a drawer full of gadgets and gadget accessories that seemed like a good idea to buy at the time but rarely, if ever, get used. We’re sure you could add to this list and we encourage you to do so (in a comment below) but in the meantime here’s our list of the most popular gadgets that never see any action.

FM Transmitter for Your Car
If you have an older car radio and want to listen to your iPod in your car you’re pretty much stuck with two choices, one gadget looks like a cassette tape and goes into your cassette player (if you have one) and the other transmits an FM signal, a very short range, to your car stereo. The problem is if you’re driving around a metropolitan area with lots of radio stations it can be hard to find an unused slot on the dial. In other words, these things rarely work very well and usually end up spending most of their days in the glove compartment.

Blank DVDs
Just about any computer newer than 5 years old that has a DVD drive probably includes a DVD writer. The problem is most people hardly use their DVD drives let alone record anything but if you’re like most people, you will have purchased a 50 pack of recordable discs on sale and chances are, you still have 50 left.
Rechargeable Batteries
This one makes even me feel guilty. Yes, I have a collection of NiCad batteries and a charger and I upgraded to Li-ion and NiMH batteries and charger but I’ll be the first to admit when the portable speaker for my iPod needs a new pair of double A batteries, I go to the drawer and unwrap a pair of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. I know, I know, I’ll change, honest, I will.
Most new laptops come with built-in webcams but I bet you don’t even use that one any more often than the standalone webcam that you bought to have video calls with your kids who were away from home. It baffles me why webcams and video conferencing never became more popular, maybe Apple’s FaceTime will change all that and there’s always Skype, but we wonder how many of your average computer users even use Skype video calling.
Phone Headsets
We'd lay odds that you probably have more than one old headset laying around that you never use. Maybe it never felt right, looked right, or worked right and it could even be an old Bluetooth headset. Hopefully you've settled on one that you feel comfortable using in the car, it's safer to go hands free and even required by law in many states.
On the Other Hand…
How About Gadgets You Never Have But Always Need?

We didn't want to appear too negative so we put together a complementary list of gadgets that you rarely have but can always use. Here's the list.
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You got to be kidding me...

I use all of them, especially the rechargeable batteries, I own tons of them for all my cameras and MP3 players. They are also substantially more powerful and last much longer than the overpriced and super toxic alkalines. I also have a bunch of old NiCd batteries for the solar lights. I burn tons of DVDs, have webcams plugged to all computers that don't already have a built-in one and have the FM transmitter with MP3 player. Which BTW works fine everywhere because the signal is so strong, that it jams all local stations.

Glad to hear it

More consumers should use rechargeable batteries like you to help save the planet. Which FM transmitter do you own?

rechargable batteries

The best rechargable batteries by far, are Eneloop batteries from Sanyo . They use a patented process that virtually eliminates the problem of self discharge. That means that you can recharge these batteries and use them months later with little or no loss of charge (something like a 10% loss of 6 months). It is not the number of MAH (millamp hours) per battery that counts but the preservation of the charging. Typically NiMH batteries loss large amounts of charge each week and month.

These are patented by Sanyo and there a few companies trying similar designs with comparable cost. I have used the Sanyo batteries exclusively.

Here is a google search url if your are curious http://www.google.com/search?q=eneloop

I have to say, this was a

I have to say, this was a terrible article. I think most people actually use these devices, your personal disuse of them doesn't reflect any real trends.

I'd advise you to present some real consumer data, and have it verified by several sources, before you go saying things like this.

DVDs in particular aren't going anywhere. Even CDs, I usually have too few of (a lot of ISOs are CD sized, and I'm usually loathe to waste the DVD capacity on them). DVDs still happen to be one of the cheapest ways of easily backing up lots of files, burning image/video disks especially for viewing on (by now) ubiquitous DVD tech. Blu-ray is nice, but really only useful if you happen to be a movie studio (at this time), or lucky enough to be dealing with large enough amounts of data to warrant backing up onto Blu-ray. Their really is a lot to be said for disposable storage that comes at 10 cents for 4.5 gigs, when USB drives running 4 Gigs still cost on the order of 10-20$.

FM transmitters are quite useful (if they don't break down) for anyone (which is a large portion of America, I believe) that doesn't have 2.5 mm jacks, iPod jacks, or fancy CD loading mechanisms in their cars. I agree with the part about changing frequencies being annoying, but this wasn't as much of a problem as you make it out to be...more like my FM transmitter broke (due to water exposure) and I haven't bothered to replace it.

I happen to use NiMH batteries quite extensively actually. I've had mine for about 4 years, and continue to use them. They're great, I don't have to waste money on alkalines. :D

I'm not a big phone user, but if I were, I would probably invest in the headset.

And Webcams not being extremely prevalent has more to do with the myth that internet is fast in the US (go look at the average internet speeds in the US, compare those to the rest of the world), than the fact that the people who DO have webcams and DO want to talk to each other online do, or do not.

Gadgets you say people never use

I am 5 out of 5 of these items and the only one I don't use anymore is the FM transmitter and I only stopped using it because I got a new car that has satillite radio. Send me all of your blank DVDs. I use them to back up my web page design changes and various photo albums. I also have a film scanner that I use, a USB turntable/cassette tape deck and am about 50 % through converting to digital my collection of 45's from the 60's and 70's, 100% through the 78's and have not even started the LPs (most I replaced with CDs). I hate buying betteries so the recharger always has a spent set charging. The whole family has webcams and we not only use them but record our sessions (another reason for the DVD burner). One blue tooth in use as well as the headphones of all shapes and sizes. I stilluse my Nikon 35mm camera.

unused gadgets?

Actually, I have burned several DVDs - I do it all the time at work - and I use my cassette adapter with my iPhone or iPod practically every day. And the first thing most of the young tweeners do when they sit in front of our work iMac is to start shooting pics of themselves with the built-in cam. I wonder if there is a difference between mac users and pc users in this regard?

i use these things ( :

hate to admit it (cause this obviously puts me in the dark ages) but i use my fm transmitter whenever i'm back home (in a country area) , i record blank cd's for peoples birthdays with songs they like on them, i always use my rechargable battery pack for my 1gb music player (otherwise it would cost me a fortune in normal batteries), and i use my web camera whenever i skype and no i don't own a headphone set cause i wouldn't want to look like an idiot .... call me old fashioned (obviously the reviewer has more money than i do) !

No need to hate it. Today I

No need to hate it. Today I Skyped with my brother in southern Sweden so webcam is in, yesterday I used both handsfree and FM transmitter, and at Sunday I (tried) to burn some DVD's. The rechargable batteries...hmmm, I bet the kids have some in some draw...guess I'm oldfashioned too, or practical.

I might be very strange

I might be very strange then, but I use often the 5 of them (well, not the FM tape anymore because I changed my car radio, but before I always used it too :-))

Well, I guess I'm a better shopper...

I only own one of these items: The blank DVDs. If anyone has any blank CDs or DVDs that they want to get rid of, they can send them to me! I use them constantly. As for the fingerprint reader mentioned by another person, I use mine constantly. I am really careful about picking something up on impulse. I'm not saying that I have never bought a gadget that I haven't used, but I'm usually pretty good about sticking with what's important to me.

Guilty on all 5 counts,

Guilty on all 5 counts, although it's probably more accurate to say I "rarely" use them, mostly out of pure laziness. They all require about 30 seconds to retrieve and set up. Such a hassle......

Rechargable batteries have

Rechargable batteries have come a long way in the last few years. I have a set of energizers that keep a charge more than a month, and have more juice (2450 mAh) than the throw away AA alkalines.

Great for my digital camera!

They charge in less than an hour; my charger can be used on 110v or 12v.


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Except for the webcam (which I don't own), I use all of these items regularly.

5 gadgets you buy and never use

Wow-I must be unusual because I have and use all of this stuff! Maybe I'm more of a geek than I thought ;)

Until it broke a couple of

Until it broke a couple of days ago I was using my FM transmitter all the time in my car. Now I'll probably upgrade my radio to one with an input for an ipod. Most of the time the FM transmitter worked fine and it only occasionally got interference even though I live in a metropolitan area.

This list was way off for

This list was way off for me. I have bought and still regularly use everything on the list except a webcam (which I never bought).

I Use 4 out of 5


You are usually bang on but:

1 - I am burning a DVD for an off-site meeting, as I read this.

2 - My old Camry has a cassette and my son will not get in it without his iPod plugged into it.

3 - I recharged the batteries on my younger sons Guitar Hero controller on the weekend.

4 - It is the law to be hands-free in Manitoba.

BTW - I do not use a webcam for 2 reasons. 1 - I don't have a laptop. 2 - We have a HD multi-site videoconference system in our boardroom that I use almost daily.

I look forward to your next post!


Five Gadgets

I use gmail video chat as do many of my family & friends. Why do you refer to Skype specifically?

I also burn CDs for use in my car. I like to make compilation discs from my CD collection.

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I need a yard sale

I have all 5 and haven't used them in years. The battery charger I keep around, because one of these days I'll need it...(doubtful). I have 3 webcams, and none are hooked up. I guess thats beacuse you need someone else to talk too (I use my phone/camera to capture video). Although they just passed a handfree driving law here in Oregon, I thought I would use my earpiece, but i found out that I need a better car with more sound insulation...

I use all five of these!

I disagree with you on all five of your items. I have all five of these and use them regularly. Maybe you are not geeky enough! ;-)

Research Needed

Hello Andrew,

thank you for posting the article but I feel you need to do a lot more research before writing an article. Maybe next time you will get it right. I assume you are not a Gadget guy so I dont blame you for not knowing better.

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List of gadgets

I have to go along with the comment about those ever so useful kitchen gadgets. For example, while I was looking for an apple corer, I ended up purchasing a plastic egg slicer type gadget who's sole function is to slice AVOCADOS!
I am also the (sort of) proud owner of a USB fingerprint reader that has been utilized maybe a grand total of three times and is currently successfully accomplishing the task of dust collecting in a drawer

I have two of those avocado

I have two of those avocado slicer things as well.
I agree a post about useless gadgets in the kitchen would be great.
As to the other stuff - have to admit to the
rechargeable batteries - have - but don't use :(
headphones come with mobiles - have a hands free in the car so they get chucked in the drawer. (However in Australia we have a program where you can take your old mobiles or any extra bits - chargers/ headphones etc into the bank and they send them all off to be recycled)
FM thing - how do you put the cassette thing into your cd player lol
Disks - do use about 3 per year out of my pack of 50
Webcam - yep it is built in - use maybe 1 per month
so yep the list is pretty much like me.

Actually, I use

Actually, I use alternatives. My rechargeables are RaOVac IC3 (internal charge control circuitry)) NiMH AA's and AAA's. My big gripe about rechargeables is that they take ***forever*** to recharge. These take 15 minutes. Yes, FIFTEEN minutes.

I don't use my FM transmitters. I use a Sony cassette adaptor. Don't bother with Radio Shack. Their cassette adaptors sound like fingernails on the blackboard. The Sony I have sounds terriffic.

I've got a s***load of blank DVD's. I was using them for a lot of stuff when my Mac Powerbook G4 died. I'll eventually use 'em.

I have a few web cams. Even the best aren't all that good. I have a Sony DCR-VX2100 3CCD camcorder that I can use for web camming via the 4 pin firewire cable. It makes me look better than the broads!
I have little need for wireless cans. I have a rather impressive collection of wired headphones (including one pair of electrostatic phones) that I use in the recording studio, and TONS of LONG stereo headphone cords.