Awesome But Impractical / Real Life

"A "cool" tool with severe drawbacks."

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    Automotive & Aeronautics 
  • "Chopper" motorcycles often fall under this heading. The more extreme the styling, the less practical they are to actually ride. Many of the prize-winningest show bikes don't even have real engines in them, and couldn't be ridden if they did.
  • Some car fans - particularly those who own coupes and other economy-level cars - like to add what is known by detractors as rice: flashy-looking extra bits that make the car look like it's seriously fast, but that are usually ill-researched and badly designed, so they only end up messing up the aerodynamics and making the car go slower.
    • Spoilers on a front-wheel drive car are particularly stupid - getting enough downforce to activate the spoiler would actually reduce performance by pulling the drive axle off the ground.
  • The Reliant Robin was an entirely plastic three wheeled car from the 70's. It was very light weight, it was legally a motorcycle it's origin nation of the U.K. (meaning a Reliant owner had to pay less on taxes and didn't need a driving licence), and was very popular in the Northern parts of Britain. Problem was, the single wheel was in the front, meaning the thing was VERY unstable.
    • For those not keen on clicking links, the driver of the RR rolls over onto the car's side within the first ten seconds of the video.
  • Sedans with standard trunks. Yes, they look awesome and provides large boot space to many Americans and Asians (particularly Chinese), but for Europeans, it's impractical in terms of space.
    • Funnily enough, in the United States, nearly the inverse is true. European micro-cars theoretically save a ton of space and gas, but often aren't practical for American drivers. This is mostly because, while American fuel economy standards are fairly lax, American emissions standards are some of the toughest in the world, a fact that many people tend to ignore. The fuel-sipping, yet highly polluting, diesel engines that power many of these Euro-compacts often have to be nerfed into oblivion in order to pass inspection, as Volkswagen found out the hard way in 2015. Ditto for American crash safety standards; that "wasted" space in the back of a sedan is actually very useful for preventing injury to a car's occupants in the event that a three-ton mall-crawler slams into the back of it. Finally, Americans are pretty much the world's largest consumer of automobiles, spending much more time in their cars due to suburban sprawl and an inferior rail system to Europe, meaning that their standards for a good car, especially where comfort is concerned, are much higher than those of most Europeans. When you import European compacts to the United States, they become much more expensive, but still use relatively cheap engines and construction.

      The end result is a tiny hatchback that may have high gas millage, but strains to go much faster than highway speed (which it's gonna meet a lot more often in the US than in Europe), puts out stunningly noxious emissions for something so small, lacks many of the creature comforts that American drivers are accustomed to, and is a Death Trap in the event that it gets into a high-speed tangle with the average American truck. This is the reason why, with the exception of Volkswagen, European cars in the United States are almost exclusively either luxury/performance vehicles like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Bentley, or niche brands like Mini and Fiat (which, in America, only sells its quirky 500 hatchback and the 124 Spider roadster as opposed to the rest of its European lineupnote ). The Yugo, for all its flaws, was one of the few European microcars that actually met the American emissions and safety standards of the time. The Smart car also took nearly a decade of intensive redesigns and tweaking, on top of some cost-cutting import deals, to even become street-legal in the US, let alone practical in the American market. The only hatchbacks that do well in the US are 'hot hatches' that also have performance to spare, and even then, they're a niche market that's most popular with urban buyers (who live and drive in conditions closer to those of European cities).
  • Supercars in police forces. They look like they're designed to chase criminals at high speeds, but the vast majority of police work is performed in more innocuous ways.
    • One practical use for the supercars, particularly all-wheel-drive ones, is rushing organs for transplant from donor to recipient when having them in the same facility or using aircraft isn't practical, which is not as infrequent as you'd think.
    • Supercars can actually be drafted into a police force if local laws allow illegal, confiscated property to be used in police operations.
  • Sports cars are this if you don't live near a closed track or in a flat rural area. Most laws prevent you from driving at full speed, and they're much more dangerous for everyday use. They have less storage space than normal passenger cars.
  • Convertibles are incredibly impractical. In exchange for having an open roof, you get less storage space, less safety, less gas mileage, less speed, and are easier to break into. On top of all this, they're much more expensive than a standard car.
    • They're also structurally weaker than a typical car - a convertible almost has a "hinge" where the doors are, and only the strength of the frame is there to hold it all together, while other cars have the top to help maintain structural integrity.
  • The Hummer H1. It's practically a brick on wheels, which is all it has going for it. It comes with a ton of blind spots, no driver space, flashy and useless aesthetics, and trying to tow it will result in the bumper being ripped off. All this for over $100,000.
    • The H2 and H3 that replaced it are more practical, but only marginally so. They're still huge, expensive and fuel-inefficient. And don't even look as badass as the H1, so you could even say it's the worst of both worlds: still impractical but not as awesome.
    • The US military decided that instead of scrapping old HMMWV's they would be sold on the commercial market at auction. Small problem: they were for off-road use only. Several states don't allow military vehicles on road or off road without modifications to make them legal.
  • Ikarus 293 double articulated bus. While it had a high passenger count, it was too long, slow, and problems with turning making it unable to take corners in Budapest. Only one prototype was made. Later it was sold to Teheran after replacing the engine to a stronger one.
  • In general, concept cars are this by definition. Meant to be a demonstration of a proof of concept with no real intent to be put into mass production. A good example is the BMW GINA, the fabric car, which is made of spandex and is as durable as your shirt.
  • Classic cars. While to some they may look really cool, they are also unreliable and unsafe. You should also not forget that a $200,000 Jaguar E-Type or a similar car can be beaten on a racetrack by a $30,000 modern sport compact.
  • Drifting as a cornering technique. While it makes the person doing it look badass, it actually makes you corner slower. It has been proved that a 600 HP drift car drifting around a track is slower than a 150 HP van going around the same track without drifting. The Mythbusters also showed the same thing with one car, just driven differently in two different runs, and it did better when not drifting.
    • Additionally, the tires will wear out much more quickly if drifting is performed regularly.
  • The point of super cars. They look pretty, they're loud, they have a lot of horsepower and can travel pretty darn fast... on a straight road with no bumps whatsoever. Otherwise, well...
    • Exemplified by the Bugatti Veyron. Designed to be the fastest "production" car ever designed, it can go 252 miles an hour. Assuming you can find a straight road long enough to let you do so (you can't, except on test tracks). And assuming you don't run out of gas (it will go through the entire tank in 12 minutes) or have an catastrophic blowout (the tires will let go after fifteen minutes when they're brand new at top speed). It's also a production car in a very limited sense: only ten were made, and sold with a $1,000,000 price tag. Despite the fact that each one cost Bugatti (aka Volkswagen) $5,000,000 to make (I don't think they have the best accountants).
    • When the world speed record for production cars was broken by another car, Bugatti responded with the Veyron Supersport, which can reach speeds of 269 miles an hour, but the tires will give out even faster if you do somehow manage to reach that speed, and they're ''$20,000'' a pop. Suffice to say, the Veyron is an amazing amalgamation of technical and engineering genius, but not at all practical for anyone. Due to an engineering oversight, the gears are not even suited to that kind of power. In a lot of them the gears broke down after just over 12,000 miles. Although, if you have the money to buy a car worth a million, you probably don't have that many problems with overhauling the car every once in a while.
    • The thing is, the Bugatti Veyron isn't even a good track car due to the fact that it is just so heavy. With the Veyron, you get very little bang for your buck as you can honestly drive faster on most racetracks and roads in general with a much lighter and less expensive sports car.
      • The SSC Ultimate Aero Twin Turbo, the car that unseated the Veyron as the world's fastest production car (then was unseated yet again by the Veyron Super Sport) has 1,183 horsepower. Unfortunately it is rear wheel drive, meaning all that power and torque is applied only to the rear, resulting in a car that fishtails in corners at the slightest blip of the throttle. There's a reason the Veyron is all-wheel drive.
      • Hennesey Performance is also vying to break production car speed records with their purpose-built "Venom GT". The Venom has broken the 270 MPH mark (That will teach Bugatti!). Hennesey Performance also specializes in outfitting common vehicles with obscene engine power, that lets you greatly exceed the speed-limits on most roads if you feel like risking time in the slammer. Don't Try This at Home.
      • Also, some supercars (e.g. Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo) are only built with the steering wheel on the left hand side (LHD) unlike most other vehicles, which are built in both configurations. This can make driving the vehicle in a country which uses the opposite standard very difficult.
      • To add insult to injury, some countries don't allow registration of vehicles which have opposite steering columns or impose severe usage restrictions. In Australia for example, the steering wheel must be located on the right hand side (RHD) for registration on public roads, unless the vehicle is over 15-30 years old depending on what state you are in. So unless you plan on doing a lot of track days or paying thousands of dollars to convert it to RHD (surprisingly, both of which many people still do), the car will sit in a garage for years before it can even be used on public roads. Even worse are countries such as Singapore, which do not allow the import or registration of LHD vehicles to any citizen at all.
      • Also, due to the impractically high price of the super cars, it is likely to fall victim to being too awesome to drive, due to fear of being involved in a collision or simply incurring wear and tear with use. (Thank Zeus for video game driving simulators.) A notorious case of this fear being realized is Stefan Erikssen's red Ferrari Enzo (he owned two! the other was black), which was wrecked in Malibu - a theory on the incident was that the car was doing 200mph when it hit a 1 inch bump at an angle, which would have caused the driver to lose control if he wasn't hanging on tight.
      • As an extra insult, supercars offer little to no room for even an extra kid, a pet or a small luggage, making this an inversion of Bigger on the Inside trope.
    • In a discussion about Ferraris and this trope on the TV show Castle, the titular millionaire mystery writer points out that no matter how cool they look and how fast they can go, such cars are ultimately no faster than any other car on the street when they're stuck in rush-hour traffic.
    • Motorcycles with colossal engines in the frame; generally, it's overkill to bolt a high-liter engine like a V8 into a bike such as with the Boss Hoss Cycles, and with an engine that heavy, the bike isn't as good at taking the corners, especially with only two wheels of grip. Admittedly, it sounds like huge thrill to take one for a ride in a straight line, but they are quite expensive brand-new, easily approaching the price of a respectable sports car.
  • Luxury Cars tend to suffer from this trope, due to their prime technologies. (This high-technology is also causing trouble with common cars; with the addition of more computerized parts, some people and mechanics may express concern over their lack of durability compared with their low-tech equivalents, as well as fears about Idiot Programming.) Many luxury cars have specialized parts such as high-tech shocks to improve the quality of the ride. Sadly, many luxury vehicles are made in small quantities, so the only part builder to buy from may be the vehicle's manufacturer, raising supply costs tremendously. This is why buying a used high-luxury car may look like a good deal, until it is time to seek out a repair-shop and learn what you will be paying on top of that. Buy a luxury car only if you can afford the cost of ownership, or you'll kiss a large percentage of your money goodbye.
  • Small nuclear powered vehicles. They could last very long periods of time without any refueling and would emit no carbon dioxide, but every crash or accident would be a potential radiological emergency. It is safer and cheaper to use a stationary reactor to make synthetic gasoline or hydrogen, then use that to power a car or a plane.
    • Ford Nucleon, a nuclear powered car. Over 5000 miles between refuelings, but imagine the mess that would result if you let notorious speeders drive it.
  • Concorde. Supersonic airliner which was cutting-edge at its time and many considered it to be the future of commercial flight. The problem was that it guzzled huge amounts of fuel and its aerodynamic body had very limited passenger space, which meant carrying small number of people at high cost, so no wonder Concordes went out of service by 2000's. And there are very few airports that serve as Concorde terminals; you'll ever see a Concorde, let alone fly in one, if you're making a trans-Atlantic flight. Famously, a NASA engineer once said that "putting a man on the moon was easy compared with getting Concorde to work".
    • Besides, the Concorde has been retired for quite a while now, and supersonic airliners are unlikely to return. Going past the sound barrier is too inefficient for civilian flight, period. Also, these days, if you need a meeting with your partners in NY, just set up a webcam. It wasn't retired because it was too fast - in the digital age, it was too slow.
    • Part of what helped kill it was also the US government over-regulating to prevent it getting into their airspace (farmers even argued that the sonic boom would knock over their cows). Why did they do this? Because they were spiteful at the failure of their own project, the Boeing 2707, which would have been even more Awesome, but Impractical, at Mach 3. Of course, that big crash couldn't have helped, either.
      • Those same rules apply to American military jets, of course. Amongst various noise complaints, sonic booms can also shatter windows if done at low enough altitudes, as once infamously happened during a flyover at an Air Force Academy graduation. Noise problems aside, most planes capable of supersonic flight tend to lose all semblance of fuel economy at those speeds, making that capability an example in and of itself except for some specific circumstances.
    • The Soviet Union was so impressed with the Concorde that they STOLE information that was related to the aircraft and used it to develop and create the Tupolev Tu-144 which was their own knockoff of the real deal. Needless to say, it was a spectacular failure that was wracked by many unresolved problems such as inefficiency and poor quality materials and components. One can't help but wonder if this was an ill omen for the Concorde's future.
  • Any and all turbine-powered road vehicles intended for civilian use.
    • Those that use turboshafts (such as the Y2K motorcycle or this minivan) have massive turbo-lag issues, guzzle fuel at a prodigious rate and are eye-wateringly expensive. And while they generate a lot of raw horsepower, internal-combustion vehicles built for high performance can almost always do the same or even better at a vastly inferior price.
    • Those that use turbofans or turbojets (such as this jet Beetle) run into the basic problem that relying on pure thrust is not very efficient on road vehicles. They eventually get to rather prodigious speeds, but acceleration tends to be slow and the noise extreme, and this is on top of the same problems turboshaft-powered vehicles suffer. The result is certainly very exciting, but very unlikely to do better than a vehicle with a powerful tuned internal-combustion engine in it.
  • Flying cars. A staple of science fiction, sure, but consider the drawbacks when it comes to safety, energy efficiency, the fact it's difficult to take off and land vertically in a very stable manner, etc. Most real life attempts at building one also require a pilot's license which is rather more difficult to obtain than a standard driver's license.
  • Self-driving cars, as they currently stand. On paper, an automated personal vehicle means you can relax and not have to worry about controlling the car, leaving your hands—and your whole mind and body, for that matter—to do things like study, conduct work-related activities, eat, and use telecommunication without some sort of hands-free device; to say nothing about the potential usefulness for those who have disabilities that prevent them from driving. But automated cars still have a long way to go before they can be safely used on a mass scale, with Artificial Stupidity being a major concern; navigational errors can result in missed turns at best and fatal accidents at worst.

    Electronics & Programming 
  • Transparent displays. A staple of sci-fi movies and TV series. They've been in existence since the early 2000's but never caught due to a shifting background being distracting.
  • Most novelty mice. Car-shaped mice might look good if you're using them in a showroom or something, but they're all an ergonomic disaster.
    • 8-bit Mario computer mice. They're nifty and look nice, but they're also large, clunky, and uncomfortable.
    • Specialised gaming mice can have up to 20 buttons on one side, including the standard mouse buttons, to control with your thumb. For comparison, an X-box controller has 15 buttons for both hands.
    • Apple ended up making this mistake with the Apple USB Mouse M4848, commonly referred to as the "hockey puck" due to its circular design, proving to be incredibly uncomfortable after prolonged use and quickly became hated by users. The company discontinued it after two years.
  • Dream PCs, often with thousands of dollars' of processors, graphics cards, and liquid cooling system, and have the specs that could conquer any game currently on the market.
    • The practical problem with expensive hardware is that you get next-gen performance on current-gen hardware. Your rig will become outdated long before it becomes underpowered. Anyone who bought a top end single core CPU or DX9 video card probably ended up replacing it quickly, not because it was too slow but because it was not a multicore CPU or DX10 card. This has become less of an issue in more recent years; five year old computers can still regularly play games, whereas back in the 1990s and early 2000s that was unthinkable. The biggest problem tends to be that you end up overpaying for the extra performance beyond a certain point.
      • Emulation solves that problem in general however, as a matter of fact a PC can emulate any platform to run virtually anything within the PC's resource capability (including console games, which are developed and tested in a PC to start with) provided they have the necessary detail that has to be emulated (and naturally console makers make it a point to safeguard their console platform from it).
      • 3dFX was a graphics company popular in The '90s. Their magnum opus was The Voodoo 5 6000. A card with four separate processors and an external power supply. It needed that because those processors used more volts than the power supplies of that era.
      • Despite that, the Voodoo 5 did not support hardware transform and lighting (depending on the main CPU to do it). The Radeon and Geforce were released BEFORE the Voodoo 5 was finished, did support those, and pretty much hammered the Voodoo 5 into the ground in performance, at a fraction of the cost. 3dfx ended up going out of business and being bought by Nvidia.
    • Enthusiast video cards often fall into this, offering high-end video rendering for the current generation, but easily exceeding $500. It is quite feasible to get by in gaming with a mid-range video card for the current generation, with most games on the market, or you can dial-down the visuals in many games to make up the difference. Also, when the next generation of video cards roll around, the enhancements on the previous high-end models may be applied to the newer, less costly models.
      • Even more expensive is running up to four video cards like with Nvidia SLI & AMD Crossfire. Sure, you can harness immense the graphical processing power, but when the video cards can't handle the latest games, you now have to replace 2-4 video cards if you want to continue reaping the benefits of multiple video cards. The expense of the motherboard is also increased to support this functionality, and the CPU will become obsolete someday too. Using a multi-core graphics card for a reasonable expense can provide a similar benefit for significant money savings.
  • "I Am Rich," an iPhone application that costs $1,000 and has two purposes: 1. Show a glowing red gem on your screen and 2. Show a secret mantra of some sort when you click the "i" icon in the lower right corner. In other words: a near-useless app that costs more than the iPhone itself just to prove you're rich.
  • The iPhone 4's antenna, which is that stainless steel banding built into the casing of the device, was described as "really cool engineering" by Steve Jobs. However, the iPhone doesn't work very well as a "phone" when you hold it, leading to dropped calls.
  • Buying arcade boards and machines, especially when a home port of the game in question exists.
  • The Most Useless Machine Ever, a device whose sole purpose, once turned on, is to turn itself off.
  • Esoteric programming languages. For example, brainfuck has only 8 commands yet is Turing-complete, and compilers for it are ridiculously small. There is also LOLCODE, where many commands are replaced with internet memes. However, these languages are really not practical for any serious programming.
    • Some of them are designed for hypercomputers, which means that it's physically impossible to build a computer that can run them in this universe.
    • While we are at this, it takes actually exactly one instruction to make a Turing-complete universal computer. Of course, such computers are no more practical than the aforementioned esoteric programmin languages, and are their thought experiment counterparts. They are notoriously tricky to program for (and it's with the most straightforward subtract-and-jump-if-(not)-equal instruction), and their efficiency is atrocious.
  • For a long time, computer programmers considered interpreted programming languages to be this. These languages are easy to code for, but until fast computers with lots of memory became commonplace, they were resource hogs.
  • There are lots of cool website designs that look awesome, but load slowly and are hard to navigate.
  • Wi-Fi connected "smart" light bulbs have apps which can imitate a thunderstorm or fireworks, by simply flashing the light bulb. It is very cool to get the "effect" of a thunderstorm or fireworks in your own home but consider the fact you turn on a light to see in the dark, and these apps flash the bulbs intermittently.
  • The Nintendo 3DS 3D feature. It may look nice but there's two problems: (1) If you move the screen even a little, a distracting flaw appears. (2) Using it continuously drains the battery in three hours. Nintendo may have fixed the screen problem by adding an eye-tracking camera feature, but most people still prefer to play their games in standard vision.
    • Even the new system has problems. It has a wireless transfer program that works with your computer so you can move video/audio/pictures to/from it without removing the Micro SD Card. The flaw? Not only does it take ages to do so but some of the files might not transfer properly. You're better off unscrewing the back of the system, removing the Micro SD Card, and inserting it manually into your computer for file transfer. Not to mention the fact that they could have just as easily done what the original 3DS did and made it possible to swap out Micro SD Cards without physically disassembling the system.
  • The Dvorak keyboard layout. It's supposed to be more efficient than the standard QWERTY keyboard and cut down on repetitive motion strain (unproven). Also every major operating system supports it in software. Unfortunately the typical Dvorak keyboard runs well over $100 and no IT department will appreciate you gluing new letters onto your keyboard.
    • Many keyboards have pop-off/pop-on keycaps, so you could move them around, reversibly. Or learn to touch-type in Dvorak and don't even look at the keys. These both require going under the hood and remapping the keyboard, of course. (Some people's skin gradually wears the lettering off computer keys, so they can touch-type, replace keyboards regularly, or glue on new labels.)
    • Additionally, note that the Dvorak keyboard is based on a myth; its creators believed that the QWERTY keyboard was created to slow down typists. This, at least, is well-documented as being untrue. (The arrangement has to do with the exact mechanics of the inside of a typewriter and the way certain bars tended to jam when struck together, not with any deliberate attempt to slow down typists.)
    • The major problem is that you have to completely re-learn touch typing. While switching may lead to faster typing in the long run (as mentioned, there's no hard evidence either way), it will definitely slow you down in the short term. It also makes it incredibly inconvenient to use anyone else's computer (or a public computer) and, conversely, inconvenient for anyone else to use yours.
  • TV sets with 4k resolution. 4k is basically twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of HDTV, and is regularly used in digital cinema. So it's a TV with the resolution of a movie theater! The first such models are 84" diagonal, and start at about $20k. While there already are a handful of 4k videos posted on YouTube, nothing is currently broadcast at this resolution, and won't be without another major upgrade to TV equipment. It is doubtful that such an expense would ever be justified, as most people don't seem to really notice a difference between the 1080p resolution of Blu-ray and upconverted DVD.
    • But if that's not enough for you, try the format-after-next 8k UHDTV (ultra high-definition television) resolution. Yes, that doubles the x and y resolution of 4k. At 7680x4320, that approaches the resolution of friggin' IMAX film! And don't even get started with the associated audio format of 22.2 surround sound (exactly what it says on the tin — 22 speakers and 2 subwoofers.) Just a little overkill for watching the news, no?.
    • And, as of 2013, games are starting to be developed with 4k resolution. While it gives PC elitists bragging rights over the PS4 and X-Box One not supporting it, the market saturation needed for it to be anything more than a talking point does not yet exist for the above reasons. You'll also need an extremely powerful PC to be able to run a game at 4K, unless you like your framerates measured in seconds per frame.
    • The fundamental problem is that the primary component of "quality" of a picture is pixel density, not number. An 84" 4k monitor has about the same number of pixels per inch as a 42" HD monitor. And it turns out that the human eye has a severe law of diminishing returns for moving picture quality. While a human can easily tell the difference between a picture printed on a 300dpi printer and one on a 1200dpi printer, it can't when comparing a 300dpi monitor vs a 600dpi monitor. 4k resolution on a 20" monitor is about the best a human eye can distinguish.
    • Even better, 4k displays for smartphones are in the works. Nice, you have the resolution of a next-generation TV in your pocket...but given that the individual pixels on a 1080p smartphone are already barely discernable, having four times the pixel density on a phone is overkill.
  • Vinyl records, at least in modern times. They generally have better sound quality than digital files, and there's just something inherently cool about them, but they're large, inconvenient, and ripping them to play on your MP3 player or game console requires somehow hooking up the turntable output to your computer's analog input, or having a special vinyl-to-mp3 turntables. Record companies seem to recognize this, with many of them offering digital download coupons with new vinyl releases.
    • Except the better sound of vinyl records is caused by the one particular technique which is regrettably abused in the modern CD mastering: a dynamic range equalization. It artificially pulls up the volume of the quieter sounds and muffles the louder ones, often across the entire spectrum, so that the overall record might be more even in intensity.note  Unfortunately, the overindulgence may (and, sadly, too often, does) lead to the record becoming an unlistenable mess, with every detail drowning in an impenetrable wall of sound. Vinyl records have much lower dynamic range than CDs, and don't lend itself to this technique: in a too loud sound the needle will be simply thrown out of the groove. That's why the records usually aren't equalized for the vinyl medium, which leads to the crispier, more detailed sound.
    • However, the other thing about CDs is that they are pre-equalised - they come with a defined bass and treble level whatever you play them on. On a vinyl record, you are amplifying an unequalised signal yourself, so you can adjust the bass and treble settings before it reaches the speakers. The warmth of a vinyl record is usually caused by low level hum that is endemic to the analog medium, that's why digital recordings often sound 'cold' by comparison.
      • The whole 'needle jumping out of the groove' thing is somewhat of a myth, as modern vinyl uses 180 gram records which have deeper grooves and can take higher volumes. Many recent examples have used almost exactly the same mastering as the CD, sometimes taken directly from the CDs (in the case of bootlegs).
      • Of course one further thing is that when pre-equalizing CDs, the mastering engineers often make questionable choices, such as cutting out the bass to make the music sound 'brighter'. Many audiophiles like vinyl precisely because they have more control over how it sounds.
  • "DVD quality" audio, which is spec'd at 24-bits per sample at rate of 192KHz. Compared to the CD which is 16-bits per sample at a rate of 44.1KHz. If you compared the audio signal of DVD quality vs. CD quality audio, DVD quality would look very much like a nice sine wave (see this image). Unfortunately, most people can't tell the difference and the few that do probably have to seriously focus. Not to mention DVD audio takes up roughly 6.5 times the space compared to CD audio.
  • This Japanese bike storing machine may qualify; it's neat and saves some surface space, but it only stores or produces one bike at a time (making it inconvenient whenever several people want to get or store bikes all at once), it only works for bikes that fit certain specifications, and it also inevitably requires power and maintenance...all unlike, say, a metal bar.
    • On the other hand consider as well that to Japan, free space on the surface is a very rare commodity on urban areas if there is any at all. The device similar to their car storage carousel is designed partially to help mitigate the fact that there is simply no room left in Japan cities for storage of the transportation vehicle in the normal manner. The option left are to dig down but having a full sized underground storage area like an underground parking lot also takes a lot of space underground (and that's also in shortage) so it becomes imperative to them to minimize the space consumed at all cost.
    • In fact, Japanese cities themselves. It kind of defies imagination to find that the population almost the size of a Russian one willingly confines itself on a barely 30% of the whole suitable land. It is actually very few large cities outside of the Pacific Industrial Belt that stretches from Hakodate to Kitakyushu, and the Sea of Japan cost is in fact very sparsely populated — you can drive for hours and not see anything except the actual wilderness and some token farmland.
  • Certain vintage electromechanical keyboard instruments, such as the Hammond organ and the Mellotron. They sound great, but their intricate mechanisms make them a nightmare to take on tour, as many Progressive Rock bands found out. This is why many keyboardists wanting retro sounds use sampled versions on modern digital synths or software synthesizers, which stand up to the rigors of touring much better, with physical instruments largely relegated to studio work. The original analog synths, such as the Minimoog, are also temperamental, often going out of tune easily. Lots of musicians prefer digital recreations for the same reason.
  • LaserDisc. Sure, it had better quality than VHS, but the discs were expensive and most rental stores didn't stock them, while they had shelves and shelves of VHS tapes. Plus, the discs were huge, the size of an LP. Watching a full-length movie required flipping discs. The format was limited to deep-pocketed film buffs and industrial uses, though it was popular in Japan. DVDs came along in the late '90s and offered all of the advantages of LaserDisc, including advanced picture and sound while being much cheaper and the size of a Compact Disc.
    • Same goes double for CED, AKA RCA SelectaVision. Never heard of it? It was actually an analog video disc similar to an LP, only using a capacitive pickup instead of a vibrating needle. The disks were permanently encased in sheaths reminiscent of a 3.5 inch floppy the size of an LP jacket and tended to wear out quickly... like after the second viewing. Not a big success.
  • 1080p video. With great resolution comes great bandwidth requirements. No broadcasters currently use 1080p, opting for 1080i or 720p instead. 1080p is mostly relegated to satellite pay per view movies, Blu-ray and streaming video. Even streaming falls into this problem. Like to watch lots of 1080p movies and TV shows on Netflix? Hope you don't have any bandwidth caps, especially in America, Canada and Australia!
    • If you want to watch a 1080p video on an iPhone, the first (and currently only) one that has a screen resolution high enough to display it without fudging things is the 6 Plus. Four years ago a flatscreen LCD computer moniter capable of that resolution was a 27" monitor which cost several hundred dollars, and you also needed an extremely expensive graphics card.
  • As with collecting arcade boards mentioned above, collecting classic computers and game consoles can fall into this, with the need for storage space, power, TV/monitor connections, aging/failing hardware with few options for repair and so on. That's why emulation is so popular on modern systems.

    Fashion 
  • "Cutting-edge-of-fashion" designer outfits that might look "fabulous" at the exclusive show in Milan, but would be extremely impractical (if not awkward or dangerous) to wear anywhere else. A morning talk show host once did a short on this, where she wore a runway piece to the supermarket to gauge people's reactions, which mostly ranged from "WTF?" to "The jacket is kinda cute but..."
    • Just as important, they can't be mass-produced due to reliance on sewing techniques that machines can't replicate and fabrics which are just as experimental and unlikely to ever be woven or knitted in real quantity.
  • For that matter, a lot of fancy clothes in general. Try wearing a gown and stiletto heels to do...well, anything productive. To say nothing of corsets, hoop skirts and the like from the past.
  • Traditional female clothing in Norway, like what this Hallingdal woman is wearing, dressed up for church. The head gear had to be put on with special care, and the whole set took an hour to finish. The last generation to use this regularly died out some time around 1980, and younger girls in this particular area switched to a more practical bonnet when dressing up. Nonetheless, this particular way of stashing was common in this area for 300 years.
  • Cosplays with elaborate armor, props, wings, and the like are no doubt the result of hundreds of hours of dedication and hard work, and look excellent for photoshoots and for simply showing off. However, many of these cosplays can be uncomfortable to walk around a convention center in—just ask anyone who has tried to walk around in a 10-foot-tall cosplay of EVA-01 or the complete outfit and armaments of one of the Kantai Collection ship girls and they will tell you that strolling around the convention grounds without accidentally hitting people with their cosplay or wearing themselves out (depending on the weight of the materials and how warm the outfit is) is no easy task.

    Gizmos & Gadgets 
  • Old style zippo lighters that produce a regular flame rather than a jet could be a mild example of this. They're far more stylish than cheaper, disposable lighters but their fluid can evaporate even if you don't use it and they require more maintenance.
    • Both matches and disposable lighters are adequate most of the time but don't work all that well (or at all) in either wet and rainy or windy conditions. Old style zippo lighters were designed to work in those conditions and, once lit, tend to stay lit until intentionally extinguished.
    • Jet lighters have their own drawbacks as well. The hissing tongue of intense blue flame is certainly awesome, but refilling one requires the fuel tank to be completely purged of air before adding more butane, or else it'll sputter and fail to stay lit. And "maintenance" on a Zippo means replacing the fluid, flint or wick; maintenance on a butane lighter usually means either shipping it back to the manufacturer for repairs if it's under warranty, or enjoying your nice new paperweight if it isn't.
  • 'Lightscribe' is a technology that allows you to 'print' high quality labels onto optical disks such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays. The process doesn't require paper, ink, or anything else beyond a special type of drive that costs only a couple of bucks more than a regular drive and special disks that cost only a tiny bit more than regular disks. After you've burned your data, you flip the disk over in your drive and 'burn' the label that you've designed in an easy-to-use labelling program; after a few minutes, a high-quality, high DPI label is embedded into the 'label side' of the disk surface. Unfortunately, it takes about 15 minutes to 'burn' a Lightscribe label, and it takes multiple repeated 'burns' to get an image of satisfactory contrast. You might have a Lightscribe capable drive and not ever know it, because simple permanent markers are just faster.
    • Similarly, they also make "printable" (matte white upper side) CDs and DVDs for use in certain printers. Just don't put them in a high-speed drive, as the rotation speed can sling the ink off of the disk, gumming up the drive.

     High Technology 
  • Theoretically, anti-matter would be an incredible fuel, with every gram allowing for prodigious amounts of energy - making possible things such as far-space travel, or tiny powerplants that could energize entire countries. Only problem is, anti-matter is astronomically expensive (62 trillion dollars per gram) and slow to produce (to the point we've only ever managed to make a few hundred atoms), very complex to contain (a momentary containment failure of a significant quantity could result in explosions such as the human race has never yet seen) and has bad shelf life (varying from a few seconds to a few minutes).
  • Any modern technology when it was in its early stages. The ENIAC, arguably the first digital computer, took up a room. The first cell phone weighed 80 pounds (36 kg). The first modern cars from around a century ago were not only unreliable, but there weren't that many decent roads to drive them on, or very many stations to refuel them at. And before that the first trains were just as bad (cinders from the steam engines starting fires, later on the wood burning stove in a wooden framed car being a fire hazard (and wooden framed cars are no protection in a crash), the rails (which were metal straps on top of wood) impaling people through the floor of the carriages, horribly slow by modern standards, etc...).
  • The Manned Space Program. There is nothing for scientific pursuits that a manned mission can do that can't be accomplished by an ummanned vehicle for a fraction of the cost. But it's too cool to resist.
  • Project Orion: Using nuclear explosions to propel a spacecraft. (Un)fortunately, the project was shelved after various test ban treaties. However, there were plans to build a freaking battleship with enough firepower to blast the Soviet Union into the Stone Age and have China for dessert. Thankfully it was shelved when the planners realised that it's essentially a game for two.
  • The concept of a Space Elevator sounds cool: Bringing materials and people up to orbital altitudes without needing fuel-burning rockets. However, many issues prevent the concept from working in practice, the threat of meteors and satellites colliding with the elevator cable being an obvious concern. As mentioned above though, most new technologies start out impractical and require a lot of work to bring into the realm of feasibility, space tethers are far from even the proto-type stage.
  • Back during the Cold War and the Space Race the USA got the Saturn V rocket working, and the USSR wanted something better. Enter the N1, a massive five-stage rocket intended for launching space stations and other large cargo. It was properly huge and employed the novel concept of a cluster of smaller engines instead of the traditional four or five big ones. This gave it a significantly higher thrust than its American counterpart... in theory. In practice the higher thrust didn't actually give it a better lifting capacity, and the engine cluster required complicated plumbing that was never able to withstand the forces and vibration of launch without exploding the whole damn thing to bits. The second launch crashed back on the pad and caused one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions ever recorded; though that probably qualifies as awesome in the traditional sense of the word, it wasn't exactly what the Soviet engineers had in mind.
    • The first stage rocket engines used by the Saturn V had a different problem. They were actually a bit too powerful for 1960s technology to completely handle. NASA had a large enough budget to work around this problem and completely redesign the Apollo spacecraft after the Apollo 1 fire that killed 3 astronauts. The center engine of a Saturn V was programmed to automatically shut down before the end of the 1st stage burn when the acceleration rate passed a certain point or when pogo oscillations were detected. Both of those could destroy a Saturn V during launch. The Saturn V was designed so that it could lose a first stage engine part way through the climb to orbit (which did happen twice) and still make it to the moon and back.

     Inefficiency 
  • Sharpening a pencil with a CNC Lathe. As a commenter pointed out, it's 90 euros for an hour with the machine, but 10 cents to buy a new pencil.
  • Gambling for money can be perceived as this because it is possible to win a lot of money, but hardly practical considering all commercial gambling is designed with something else in mind.
    • Card counters, rounders, folks who teach games, and professional poker players all beg to differ. Note that most such things are perfectly legal. MIT's famous team, inspiration for the fictional film 21 and a few more accurate books and documentaries, documented earnings near $170 USD per hour. Adjusted from 1982 dollars to 2012, that is nearly $380 USD per hour. Of course, a simple look at the ratio of successful card counters, rounders etc. to folks driven to the poor house by their gambling should give any thinking individual pause.
      • Playing against the house is always this trope. Even the most successful playing teams required massive investments of capital (to weather long losing streaks) and incredible investments of time. The aforementioned $170/hr earnings is RAW revenue, which doesn't take into account the time for training or the ROI for capital. The actual numbers point to the investors making about a 50% profit over 2 years, and the actual players making something on the order of $10/hr accounting for all the time spent. In other words, the MIT players would have been better off working at Dunkin Donuts. Playing against others, on the other hand, can certainly be profitable (mostly because of the large number of mediocre players).
  • Dubai seems to be the epitome of the high tech, ultramodern city with its numerous flashy skyscrapers and ambitious building projects. However, the city itself lacks critical infrastructure that is taken for granted in literally any other industrial nation, such as a centralized sewer system. Though the city has adequate treatment facilities to process all of the waste it generates, the problem is actually transporting the waste to said facilities. With no pipes or sewers, the majority of the city's waste is carried by tanker truck, which can lead to long queues that can force a drive to wait at least 24 hours. It's not uncommon for tanker truck drivers to simply dump their waste wherever they can rather than wait.
  • Many modern skyscrapers are a perfect example of this, particularly the kind that were built or started during the relatively recent property bubble of 2002-2008. Examples like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (in the UAE) or the towers in Mecca were an example of what can happen when a few megalomaniac oil barons with access to Western resources (architects, engineers, and credit not locally available in the Middle East) build things for their own egos, but completely forget about cost and practicality. The result was more fuel a property bubble that helped puncture the world economy, depress growth rates in those countries, and may have indirectly sparked the Arab Spring. Mostly empty skyscrapers may look cool from a distance, but economically, they are a gargantuan waste of resources. It gets even worse when one considers the opportunity cost.
    • Which is compounded by the fact that the Burj Khalifa is not not even connected to a sewer due to Dubai's lack of a centralized sewer system. All of the waste the building generates is stored in a massive septic tank which has to be regularly emptied by entire convoys of tanker trucks, which have to physically carry all the waste to the nearest treatment plant.
    • When a "megaproject" looks like it has been grafted onto a much poorer or smaller community that looks like it cannot support such a project, it generally is an example of this trope, like a giant hotel in North Korea, or Romania's oversize Palace of the Parliament.
    • Speaking of which: the North Korean "Ryugyong" hotel, also known as the "Hotel of Doom", is a massive, modern-looking palace that was to be the "tallest hotel in the world", had it actually been completed before someone else's hotel had snatched that title. It suffered numerous halts in construction, and was later deemed unfit for use and built so badly as to be structurally unsound - with things like concrete spontaneously breaking apart and crooked lift shafts. North Korea ran out of money before completing it, with some sources reporting the hotel costing the country 2% of its entire GDP during the years it was being built. It sat unused and decaying for years, and even now that a telecom group has been fixing what parts of it can be fixed and seems to actually, really be on the verge of opening it, only small parts of it will ever be used, as the rest is beyond repair.
    • It's been "completed", though it has yet to open. Parts of it are unusable.
    • This is a situation that is Older Than Dirt. Most of the most fabulous of the Ancient Wonders were built to satisfy the egos of the local rulers or city authorities. They were unrivaled architectural achievements that attracted the envy of all while simultaneously being incredibly expensive and of very little practical use. Particularly in Ancient Egypt, where it was not uncommon for a Pharaoh's monument building to leave the nation bankrupt. The Pyramids of Giza are a prime example. While an architectural marvel and a crowning achievement for the human species, at the end of the day they are still horrendously over-elaborate mausoleums and nothing more.
  • Cooking with lava. Not lava rocks, liquid hot magma. A favorite demonstration of Syracuse University's Department of Earth Sciences' "Lava Project" is to grill steaks with a stream of lava. Unless you like your steaks cooked very well done, it's obviously not a practical way to cook anything.

     Locomotive & Maritime 
  • The Chinese Vehicle Straddling Bus, admit it; that thing looks all kinds of awesome. The idea, presumably, is to create a bus that is more convenient than its lane hogging brother. What they have actually done is invent a bus that if it accidentally swerves, to even the smallest degree, it will cause a three car pile-up - a prospect even more frightening when you add the prospect of many tons of bus landing on your head. Its doors are 9 feet above ground, entailing a complete refit of every bus stop on its route. Oh, and don't think this is just some crazy concept vehicle - the Chinese are fully planning to not only bring this thing into full service by 2011, but also sell it to America.
    • It's actually a tram and it runs on rails. Still, this vehicle will be unable to get through busy traffic any faster than a regular motorcycle because there might be a car on the rails. It may also have slight issues with bridges and overhead power lines. In the end, it is impractical in cities and unnecessary between cities. Maybe Chinese cities are different?
  • Speaking of Russia, Soviet 12,000hp diesel locomotives. Yep, twelve thousand horsepower in what counted as one single locomotive. It took a while for Soviets to realise they don't need that much power.
    • One year after the first 4TE10S was made, the Soviets managed to put 6,000hp into one single, one-section, one-engine diesel locomotive, the TE136long before the EMD SD90MAC operated with an actual 6,000hp.
    • The Soviet AA20 was awesome and impractical for one and the same reason: it was a 14-coupled steam locomotive. It also ruined tracks and destroyed every switch it went through.
    • The Swedes seem to have built a somewhat more practical awesome locomotive for hauling ore from Kiruna to Narvik. The Dm3, a 1D+D+D1 articulated electrical locomotive delivers 7600kW (just a tick over 10000hp) and hauls 5200 tons.
    • Romanian Class 47 locomotives are single-unit electric locomotives with continuous 6600kW (almost 9000hp) of power, designed to take on trains loaded with 3000-3600 tonnes on mountain lines. However, most of them are used for passenger trains, which is a waste of potential.
    • The Germans built their Class 103 single-unit electric locomotives with continuous 7400kW (one-hour peak power output of 7700kW / 10,400 hp), despite being designed to haul 5-car passenger trains at 200 km/h (125 mph).
  • American railroads had such stuff, too. Check out the Pennsylvania Railroad FF1. In these times, 4,000hp were a lot, and the technology was practically space-age. She was so powerful she regularly ripped couplers apart.
    • The Budd Metroliner. An EMU designed by and for the Pennsylvania Railroad to run top-notch high-speed services in the Northeast Corridor. Its maximum speed was beyond 160mph. Not that the Pennsy had any stretch of track that would have allowed for anything close to that speed.
    • This seems to be a consistent problem for the Pennsylvania Railroad because they built the 4-4-4-4 T1. The T1 was powerful, fast, and looked cool. It was also a maintenance nightmare, ate coal like nobody's business, and was prone to wheelslip. All 52 were scrapped within ten years of production.
    • Their predecessor, the sole 6-4-4-6 S1 No. 6100, was both more awesome and more impractical. It was the most powerful express steam locomotive ever built, but it carried only 40% of its weight on two mechanically independent sets of four driving wheels each. These were overwhelmed by the sheer power of the boiler which made wheelslip almost inevitable at any speed below 50mph.
    • Triplexes. So how can the tractive effort of a locomotive be increased? More drivers under the tender. The boiler simply didn't generate enough steam, probably because only half of the steam was blown out through the main chimney. It was practically useless past walking speed.
    • Streamlined express engines, especially the 1930s-type steam engines, are fast and pretty, but they are expensive to manufacture, often require specialized crews, and cannot be used on any train except the express.
    • German streamlined steam locomotives not only looked cool but actually saved some fuel. The main reason was because the streamlining was a shroud wrapped around the entire locomotive from the top of the boiler almost down to the rails. However, the fully-enclosed running gear lacked ventilation and was prone to overheating, and maintaining it through the small hatches on the sides was difficult.
    • The 2-6-6-6 Allegheny-class steam engines of the Chesapeake and Ohio could produce 7000 horsepower on average, but they weighed more than the Big Boy, and the 40-ton axle weight left the monsters restricted to only the heaviest lines.
    • Speaking of Chesapeake & Ohio, their steam turbine-electrics existed for less than three years between construction and scrapping. The modular construction promised to make repairs easier than on conventional steamers. Unfortunately, they were so complicated that it took a lot longer to find any faults in the first place.
    • The Baldwin 60000, one of the largest locomotives ever made. The designers intended it to be the train of the future, but its sheer size meant that the controls were too complex for most engineers to operate, and the firebox tubes had a nasty habit of bursting. If that weren't bad enough, it was so heavy that the test run damaged the rails it was on, thereby ensuring that the railroad companies would not be interested. It didn't even go faster than any other locomotives. Only one was ever built, and it's been stationary in a museum for the last eighty years.
  • Even England, the motherland of railways, isn't safe from this.
    • In the late 1940s, Oliver W. Bulleid decided to pretty much reinvent the steam locomotive with Southern Railway's Leader class. It was a steam locomotive that didn't look like one at all but rather like an early diesel. Instead of having a set of drivers in a rigid frame coupled by rods and directly powered by steam pistons, it had steam motors in its two six-wheel bogies, and its track view surpassed that of all other British steamers because it had one driver's cab at each end. It actually worked pretty well.
      Otherwise, it was quite half-baked. It had one lateral aisle through the entire engine room. This, however, required the boiler to be placed out of centre, causing the locomotive to be unbalanced. The countermeasure was to fill scrap metal under the floor boards in the aisle which in turn made the locomotive too heavy. The fireman's room was in the middle of the locomotive and prevented any communication between him and the driver; it was also badly ventilated, and the fireman would have burned his shins on the hot air from the firehole, hadn't he worn protectors; and in the event of the locomotive falling over, he wouldn't have had a chance to get out unlike on conventional steamers whose cabs have an open rear end.
      The best part: The first Leader, 36001, wasn't a one-off prototype but the first of the actual serial production run. When the Leader project was stopped, 36002 was almost finished, and work on 36003 had commenced.
    • Needless to say, it spawned a race to design machines that are even more awesome while retaining the utter uselessness of the original. Cue the advanced edition
  • Supertankers. They have reached their maximal practical size already in the late 1970s, and Seawise Giant, launched 1979, demonstrated with all her 450 m length and 657,000 tonnes displacement that building any larger is impractical. All the supertankers of her size have been scrapped, and the largest supertanker currently in service carries roughly half the tonnage of oil Seawise Giant did.
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel's final project, the SS Great Eastern. Being five times larger than the biggest ship that came before it, and remaining the biggest ship in history for 40 years, it was certainly pretty awesome. But 'practical' is not the word to use when such an insanely expensive ship, which has capacity for 4000 passengers, carries just over forty on its maiden voyage.

     Pets 
  • Exotic pets, or just numbers of ordinary ones, were used to show off the owner's wealth and easy life. The most common ones were big cats, monkeys, bears, elephants, and non-native birds, but anything that took their fancy was fair game. Royalty and nobility were also known for herds of horses, when even one horse was a sign that the owner was well above everyone else.
    • Domesticated servals. They embody the best character features of the cat and the dog, they're fast and agile and in general great fun to have around. They're also extremely expensive to buy, require rather more food and open spaces than your average cat, and need very caring and committed owners.
  • Dog breeds that are extreme distortions of the original model, such as bulldogs with such big heads and narrow pelvises that they can't give birth naturally; their puppies always have to be delivered by Caesarean.
    • Or pugs, which will self-destruct (that is, grow infections and illness, quite possibly leading to death) if not cared for very scrupolously.
    • Cat breeders are doing the same genetic damage to several breeds. Purebred Persians have breathing problems, eye problems, and are more likely to have stillbirths. The original breed type is still around (usually called Traditional Persian or Doll-Face Persian), but cat shows won't let them compete because they don't have the malformed skull that has become breed-standard.
    • On the other side of things, a few bulldog breeders have realized that the current breed-standard for bulldogs is unhealthy to the well-being of the bulldog so they're setting a new standard to make it more robust (and even looking like how the breed was in the 1800s).
  • Cloning your pet. Imagine bringing your beloved and amazing dog or cat back from the dead! Only cloning doesn't work like that in real life. The clone may be genetically identical, but it'll pretty much be a unique and new individual. Not to mention that cloning would cost a ton of money to essentially get a pet you could easily find at a local pet shelter for much less.

     Sports & Martial Arts 
  • In the tennis world in 2007, an exhibition match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal called Battle Of The Surfaces was held. Federer vs. Nadal on a half-grass, half-clay court. So awesome. So impractical.
  • Most martial art styles you see in the movies is this trope. You see all those cool backflips, dodging moves that Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee know? They're real, though choreographed for movies. The most effective techniques are the simple ones you learn early. Some less-than-practical examples from Shaolin Kenpo:
    • Defensive Maneuver Eleven. During the course of that, you redirect a punch, knock them down, break your attacker's legs three times, knee them in the spine, and leave them face-down on the floor after kidney-shotting them. Good luck doing that one in real life.
    • Another offensive technique merely involves grabbing the top of a person's arm while they punch, slapping their ears, and then kneeing them in the face. You'll notice the technique begins with what is effectively catching a punch.
    • Bruce Lee once commented that a person who has trained for a year in boxing and a year in wrestling could beat any eastern martial artist in a no-holds-barred fight.
  • It's difficult to say whether or not basketball (mostly the NBA) subverts or plays this trope straight with slam dunks. Many NBA players will not hesitate to perform a flashy dunk if they have the chance, mostly on fast breaks. The 360s, reverse dunks, and windmills look a hell of a lot cooler than standard dunks, but they're still worth the same amount of points... and the fancy dunks have a higher chance of missing. However, some people are of the belief that performing flashy dunks can spark a home crowd (or deflate an opposing crowd), thus giving the team more momentum than a normal dunk would.
    • The defensive equivalent of a flashy dunk in this regard is blocking the shot so hard that you hit it out of bounds. Sure, you look like a badass in the process of stopping the team from scoring, but in most cases, having touched the ball last, you let the other side retain possession of the ball. A more practical technique would be to try to tip the ball softly toward a teammate and gain possession (that's not gonna make SportsCenter, though). Bill Russell, one of the greatest defenders and shot-blockers (if not THE greatest) in NBA history, has gone on record many times as saying that blocking shots out of bounds, unless absolutely necessary, is a basketball sin.
    • This trope also applies with passing in basketball. Some players are simply incapable of making a routine chest pass (Jason Williams, formerly of the Sacramento Kings, was benched during fourth quarters because of this - after retiring from the NBA, he now plays a lot of exhibition matches, which give him a lot more room to try fancy passes) at all, and would rather risk a turnover by doing a flashy behind-the-back pass.
  • Most Professional Wrestling moves qualify. Sure, they look cool and can be deadly if done incorrectly, but they would be completely useless in a real fight. Most of the throws usually require the opponent to assist, or at least allow it to happen, meaning they can be easily countered by a resisting opponent.
  • The "ripped look" bodybuilders have while on-stage during competitions looks awesome, but the bodybuilder is actually very low on body fat and might even be dehydrated. By comparison, if you look at world-class competitors for weightlifting and other competitions of strength, notice how few care about their overall body image (and some are even fat, making it Stout Strength) despite being the strongest men alive. Looking like you could bench 150 kilograms is not the same as actually being able to.
  • Free-running, which is a descendant of the much more Boring but Practical Parkour. Sure, it's cool to make all those backflips and land on your feet just to keep running, but the training, agility and stamina required are prohibitive for most people.

     Weaponry 
  • Throwing knives fall into this category. They're fun as a hobbyist's toy, but the precision required to attack and injure a moving target is impossible to reliably use.
    • Plus, you're basically throwing away your weapon, and giving it to your opponent.
  • Nunchucks. They're certainly a flashy weapon to show off with in martial arts demonstrations, and being able to master one's use requires a very high level of discipline and finesse. Unfortunately, they're very difficult to train with, and simpler weapons do their job betternote .
  • Fully-automatic pistols, like the Glock 18, when it comes to anything other than suppressive fire. They burn through ammo, rapidly overheat, are very inaccurate, and can be replaced by more reliable sub-machine guns.
  • It's generally agreed among gun enthusiasts that, for self-defense and law enforcement purposes, anything more powerful than a .357 Magnum is essentially overkill if you're not built like an Action Hero... unless you expect to be attacked by bears. If that's the case, then .44 Magnum is the minimum recommended cartridge, or even better, to forget the handgun and pack a rifle instead.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • The Guns Akimbo style. Sure, you look badass pulling it off, but having a gun in either hand makes aiming and reloading impossible.
    • It's possible in real life, if you're a trained expert with years of experience. It's easier to learn to shoot one gun well than two guns with varying success.
    • Dual-wielding swords may look awesome, but they're hard to use and aren't as useful as a single sword with a shield. No military culture ever used two swords in serious combat.
    • Sword and Gun. While flashy, the sword isn't going to do you much good in real life over just using the gun, and you're limited to firing the gun with just one hand which makes aiming difficult, and can't easily be reloaded.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner... if only you can actually USE it in the battlefield. Trying to kill a man with one stroke needs VERY close proximity.
  • The Mateba Model 6 Unica, known to most people as the "Autorevolver". It's a revolver that cycles like a semi-auto, removing the need for a heavy trigger pull. It looks super cool, but it combines the drawbacks of both semiautos (less durable and more prone to malfunction) and revolvers (smaller magazine capacity and difficult to reload) into one rare and extremely expensive package.
    • Cocking the gun semiauto-style is possible (for show, as otherwise you'd prepare the first shot by simply arming the hammer), but as the carriage lacks grippy surfaces you can only do it by... pushing on the barrel.
    • The Model 6 Unica was also available as the Grifone, with a lengthened barrel, hand rest and stock, effectively turning it into a carbine. The Grifone was available in .454 Casull too, which is a ridiculously powerful round that's overkill in pretty much any conceivably practical scenario. And in those scenarios where it's not overkill (ie big game hunting), there are still plenty of better and/or less expensive options.
  • The Luger P08 looks good, and is superbly machined and precisely fitted. That's why it was a terrible combat pistol. The toggle action is notoriously finicky and fails to cycle without the proper ammunition, and the tight tolerances means even a tiny amount of grit quickly jams it up. The Luger worked fine as an officer's sidearm for shooting prisoners and deserters, but it didn't take long for the German army to notice how poorly suited the gun was for infantrymen and it was eventually replaced as standard issue by the Walther P-38.
  • Nearly all "collectible" "fantasy" type knives and swords are this. Lots of wicked-looking pointy bits, but you're at least as likely to injure yourself if you try to use them in combat, either from the excess pointy bits on the weapons or from the brittleness of the cheap steel used to make them.
  • Any form of giant robot in general. The very fact that these mechs have legs makes them easy to disable: just break the legs and they're useless. If there are going to be any giant robot warmachines in the real world, they will have less vulnerable means of standing upright, like tank treads - as in the case of Guntank. For now.
  • The Desert Eagle handgun, especially in .50AE chambering. Awesome looks, awesome power, awesome boom, loved and used by every action hero ever, kills bad guys like nothing else. The concept doesn't translate well in reality though: excessively heavy and bulky, unmanageable recoil (to the point where fractured wrists are a very real possibility), expensive ammunition note  , small magazine size and too much power ensure its status as a toy for rich people, but not a practical weapon. Deagles chambered in smaller calibers like .357 are marginally more practical, offering less recoil and a slightly bigger magazine capacity, but are still oversized and heavier than almost any revolver with the same chambering.
    • It also sports two design choices that make it impractical for anything other than range use and occasionally hunting regardless of which caliber its chambered in - It operates off of what is basically a rifle-style gas relay system (meaning that unjacketed rounds, such as those commonly used in .357 and .44 magnum revolvers, will quickly clog the gas valve, so the cheapest options for its already expensive ammo are a no-go) and uses a "free-float" magazine that will jam if there is any upward pressure placed on the magazine during cycling.
    • Just about any handgun with more power than a .357 magnum is this trope in spades. The only logical purpose they could have is to kill big game, like moose, bears or any of the Big 5. However, these handguns are still outclassed in every regard by the high-caliber rifles hunters have been using for decades.
    • All types of handguns, even Olympic target pistols, are woefully inaccurate at long range. A rifleman can be trained in a few weeks (and hundreds of rounds fired) to hit an apple beyond 100 yards. To get the same performance from a handgun at 25 yards it takes years of training. So the gigantic .50 caliber round of the Desert Eagle may be awesome at a few yards if the bear charges you, but nothing else.
    • Nearly all decently-powered pistol rounds actually have a much, much longer effective range than one might expect - up to several hundred yards in some particularly stellar examples. The problem is that while rifles have stocks which significantly dampen the natural motion of a shooter's arms, handguns are subject to every tiny tremble and muscle motion of the wrist, resulting in the angle of the barrel changing much more unpredictably.

     Unsorted 
  • When ever an environmental change happens that disrupts an ecosystem, the big, awesome animals almost always die out first. The reason why is that they tend to need more food and water.
  • Rube Goldberg Devices.
  • Cashmere sweaters. Very warm, soft, and comfortable, but you can't put them in the washing machine; if you don't take them to a dry-cleaner they'll be ruined. They're also rather itchy.
  • Memorizing pi to a large number of decimal places. Just 42 digits is accurate enough to calculate the circumference of the sun given its diameter to within the width of a proton.
  • Ramune bottles may look cool... but you can't close them again after opening them, which is pretty impractical for a soda. They add a lot to the cost. There are aluminum ramune bottles (which are awesome and not impractical) where the drink itself costs much less per unit of volume.
  • This Cracked article lays it down in the first entry; ask a kid about fighting sometime, and he'll tell you that 90% of a fight is being able to generate enough raw hell-yeah to make your opponent shit his pants with the force of a cannon.
  • All manner of cooking implements. Mostly marketed on the idea of "How AWESOME would it be to make (insert popular restaurant food or drink item here) in your OWN HOME?!" Five months later you will have only used it once or twice after you got it, promise to use it again at a party and forget about it being there until the next time you clean out the cabinet under the sink. That and quite a few of them do not work as advertised anyway.
    • The Bialetti Mukka, intended to make a nice foamy cappuccino without the expense and complication of an electric espresso machine equipped with a milk frother. Instead it makes an excessively foamy white coffee that tastes rather differently than a true cappuccino. Which might not actually be unpleasant, depending on your tastes, but the Mukka is also fiddly to prepare, harder to clean than an ordinary moka pot and rather temperamental as the valve design is imperfect: occasionally it provides insufficient pressure for no apparent reason, resulting in an unsatisfactory brew.
  • There are a lot of truly beautiful clothes out there for children and babies. A surprisingly large percentage of them are not machine-washable.
    • Same goes for the dresses and gowns many starlets wear on the Red Carpet. They tend to be beautiful, but they cost an inordinate amount of money for something she's only going to wear once. Notable pop star Lady Gaga seems to be parodying this, as some of her outfits are really out there (the meatdress, anyone?) but, as her first performance on Saturday Night Live shows, she has some difficulty sitting in them to play the piano.
    • To a larger extent the dresses used by both nobility and royalty in the past. Undoubtedly cool, but heavy, stiff, and needing up to hours to be dressed in one, and that with the help of several maidens.
  • This is what the Japanese "art" of chindogu is all about. Essentially, chindogu are makeshift inventions that seem ideal for solving common problems but are so impractical, create so many new problems, or are just plain embarrassing to use that they're almost entirely useless. One such example is the Butterstick, which is butter in a glue stick form. It allows you to put butter on food without dirtying a knife, but it doesn't work well with soft food such as bread, or small items such as peas. It is practical when serving corn on the cob, though.
  • The machete slingshot.
  • The Dalek car.
  • Lots of clothing would come under this, such as extremely high heels that in many situations are crippling, but still popular for aesthetic reasons. Also exceptionally tight and restricting clothing, and clothes worn for fetish reasons that can be impossible to move in.
  • The Roman Toga; the definite status symbol in Ancient Rome and made you look like a refined Patrician. But they were heavy, inconvenient, a hassle to walk around in, extremely uncomfortable in the hot Roman Summer, and more or less completely disabled the use of the wearer's left arm. They had to impose a law forcing senators to wear them in meetings because they were so widely hated.
    • It isn't really surprising: the toga was basically an oval or rectangular woolen sheet about a meter wide and 6 meters long, wrapped around the body several times. Imagine yourself wrapped heat to toes in a blanket of course it was heavy and stifling: the classical toga was a thing that differentiated a quiritus, or a free Roman citizen, who was expected to devote himself to politics, from a slave, whose purpose in life was to work, and who therefore wore a light tunic.
  • The Energia rocket, developed in the late 1970s-1980s in the Soviet Union, turned out to be this. The most powerful launch system ever built, and intended to be entirely reusable in its second incarnation, it actually worked — but it was too powerful: the projects it was envisioned for, chief among them Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, and eventually a lunar expedition, got axed by The Great Politics Mess-Up that happened just as the system was reaching its full capacity, and The New Russia didn't have the funds to run it. As it later turned out, the project was so ambitious that even the US would have had a hard time finding funding. Naturally (and sadly), the project was cancelled.
  • Certain synthesizer patches, specifically ones that provide very unmusical effects like engine noises. Sure, they're fun to play around with, but no musician would seriously consider using them in his/her work.
  • These ketchup-squirting robots.
  • Alcubierre Drives, physically viable idea for FTL travel, it's basically a warp drive; it's only insanely expensive, requires an absurd amount of fuel, and has the added benefit of creating a large black hole at the area it's turned on every time it's used. Oh, and the area it moves reaches preposterously high temperatures in transit.
    • The other problem is that it'd require more energy than the entire mass of the universe converted into energy all at once to turn one on...Plus you can't steer while it's active, and you can't turn it off easily.
      • Actually, it seems the power requirements aren't nearly immense. The other two points still stand, as does one other point that came up in a critique of Alcubierre's original theory: The bubble on its own doesn't provide any motive power. So even if we get an Alcubierre drive up and running, we still have the issue of moving it!
  • The Bosozoku style of vehicle modification. Whether the end results are classifiable as "awesome" is open to debate, but they are certainly flashy, creative and attention-grabbing. They're also horribly troublesome to drive, aerodynamically disastrous and just too unfeasible to use as anything other than show pieces. Good luck handling speed bumps and on-ramps.
  • It is possible to turn a can of sweetened condensed milk into a substance similar to caramel by boiling an unopened can in water for 3 hours. However, when one considers the gas or electric cost of running a stove for 3 hours (even if it's a wood stove, you still need constant fuel), plus the water needed, plus the cost of a can of sweetened condensed milk (which isn't even available in many countries), it is far FAR cheaper to either buy a jar of caramel, or to make it properly with melted brown sugar and butter.
    • Granted, if you don't mind waiting longer, you can do this with a crock pot (removing the label first), and once done the finished product has a frankly absurd refrigeration life. A single can lasts for months, and can even be stored in the original can without complications.
    • Thankfully, this special, creamy type of caramel (often called "dulce de leche") can now be found in many grocery stores.
    • You can also boil an unopened can of sweetened milk inside a pressure cooker. Takes around 30 to 45 minutes and it's just as good as the original.
  • Necomimi ears are cat ears that move in response to your forehead muscles, and while they look cute, they'll run you at least 100 USD. They can also, as a promotional video shows, completely ruin a pokerface should you wear one while playing cards.
  • In the world of NERF and NERF knock-offs, NERF shotguns. On one hand, shotguns are awesome. On the other hand, they shoot two standard shots, when most guns can hold 3-12 times that many, before reloading. And the kinds that use shells, like the Buzz Bee Double Shot, look really cool but take forever to reset the shells. This doesn't include other blasters that are primed in shotgun fashion such as the Alpha Trooper and Rampage, Shotguns Are Just Better in that case.
    • The NERF Sledgefire, a new addition in the ZombieStrike line, uses three-dart shells that eject when the breech is opened. Cool, but it can only hold up to 4 at a time, and only comes with 3 since a fourth one makes reloading even more cumbersome. Refilling the shells take about as much time each as swapping out a clip from an N-Strike blaster.
    • In terms of cost, the NERF Cam ECS-12, a neat integration of a camera and blaster in one but at somewhere around $80 with a camera around 0.3 MP and 20 FPS, it's cheaper just to strap a GoPro to a Stryfe or use your iPhone attached to a blaster by an official holder.
      • Not to mention, the Cam ECS-12's microphone is essentially right on top of the flywheel motor, so the only thing you will hear in a recording from it when it's ready to shoot is "WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR".
  • Some animals end up getting stuck with this as part of their evolutionary adaptation, with the best example being the extinct saber toothed cat. A muscular big cat with elongated banana-sized teeth jutting out of its front jaw must have been the ultimate badass right? Well...evidence has shown that those impressive canines were less fearsome than they appear. While it did help in killing large animals, said animals had to be held still by the cat's prodigious strength to prevent their delicate teeth from breaking from the strain of struggling prey, unlike the teeth of today's big cats which are more durable.
  • Fountain pens. They look cool and require less pressure to write with, but also need to be held at a very specific and uncomfortable angle or else the result is a mess of missing ink, on top of being expensive. It's for these reasons that the far-more-convenient ballpoint pen has replaced the fountain pen in modern ages. It takes some particular skill and need (e.g. professional-level writing) to make fountain pens more useful than, say, a high-end gel pen.
    • Really, most ballpoint pens that require refilling. Why bother buying refills from office suppliers when you can buy a cheap biro in any corner shop for half nothing?
  • Most of the so-called 'fashionable' haircuts. As amazing as some of them may look, majority of them are absolutely impractical. They generally take a large amount of time to get just right, with the payoff not being as great as the effort, since most people are not up and about long enough to hold this hairstyle for more than 12 hours, tops. And most include touch-ups over the course of the day. There's also the fact that they are just plain impeding in everyday life, particularly those that involve limiting one's vision by a large percentage.
  • Lots of gourmet cooking techniques and dishes qualify, at least for most amateur home cooks.
  • Antarctic Press released a series of books on how to draw manga in the early 2000s. One installment focused on swords and pointed out that the ridiculously-designed fantasy swords with wild blades, skulls and encrusted jewels was only good for mantelpiece displays, would only work well as a weapon of VERY last resort, would probably hurt you more than the target and you'd just end up trying to copy the Sword of Omens, anyway..
    • Giant flags (e.g. for Hetalia cosplays) have the additional challenge of making sure to treat the flag with respect at all times. The act of setting a flag on the ground or tying it around your body can be seen as disrespectful, even if you're doing it just because you're simply tired of carrying it around. In fact, some conventions even have rules against doing such things.
  • Banked-track Roller Derby is a lot of fun. It's faster-paced than flat-track roller derby, lends itself to a more wide-open play style, and has tighter scores. The problem is the track itself, which is large, heavy, expensive to maintain, and costly to store. There is a reason why flat-track derby, which can be played on any smooth flat surface that can take tape, is the dominant style of the sport.
  • Sexual display characteristics were an attempt by nature to reconstruct this trope. Large peacocks are poor fliers and maned lions are poor hunters, just to name a few, but females find them desirable regardless, because the only way to grow your flashy display is to be one of the healthiest, most genetically stable bachelors around.