Strong Bad: No, shut up! Look, I'm gonna need to borrow, like, $900.
Strong Sad: Well, I hope that's for a new computer. You could get one like yours at a garage sale for, like... [chuckling] $15.
It's a dusty, out-of-date computer with a wheezing hard drive that takes over a minute to perform a simple operation. A beaten-up computer that crashes and restarts unexpectedly and at the ''least desirable' time for a breakdown. It's probably a big tower computer but it might also be a heavy, clunky laptop the size of an attache case. It might have outmoded accessories like a floppy disk drive and a huge Cathode Ray Tube monitor. Bonus points for a CRT that is 1980s-style monochrome green monitor or a 1970s-era reel-to-reel tape drive.
This is The Alleged Computer. This computer, to put it kindly, isn't the most viable to use to lollygag or search funny cat videos with, let alone do real work on, as it struggles with sending an email. In fact, you could probably benefit using an old 1990s mobile phone with Internet capabilities over this type of "computer". Their best use is probably a novelty doorstop or tire chock for an RV. Or donate it to a museum.
If it runs overly slowly or breaks with a single touch (or only works properly with a very strong touch), it definitely fits here. If a computer is actually much more efficient than it looks, see What a Piece of Junk. It may look like it belongs in a scrapyard.
Compare The Alleged Car, The Alleged House, and The Alleged Steed for severely underperforming automobiles, homes, and horses. Also see No Backwards Compatibility in the Future and Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future.
Walking Techbanes turn any computers around them into these.
While Older Is Better is often depicted in fiction for swords, armor, and guns, this isn't the case for computers due the the exponential gains in memory and processing speed between the 1970s and today. A 1975 Cray-1 supercomputer processed at 80 MHz; in the 2020s, a schoolkid's laptop will run at 1.5 GHz and a good home computer may run at 5 GHz.
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, B.A. had a Trash 80 nicknamed Molly, whose slowness made it the butt of many jokes.
- Downplayed in The Web of The Spider-Man. Peter got his laptop as a hand-me-down from his late father, making it really, really old by modern standards. Peter has been keeping it running and updated by buying whatever computer parts he could afford with his meager allowance, but it's held together with gum, paperclips, and toothpicks. While it can't compete with a modern computer, it still works fine for the most part.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, K.E.L.E.X. believes every single computer on Earth is this, as it's all Stone Age tech compared to what he's equipped with. To be fair, he's justified in that he's lightyears ahead of any conventional computer on Earth, to the point that he can easily upgrade Izuku's phone to make it project a forcefield powerful enough to completely repel the toxic gas produced by Korusan Island. He takes every opportunity to rub this in.
K.E.L.E.X.: I HAVE LINKED MY PROGRAMMING TO YOUR TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICE IN THE FORM OF AN APPLICATION; BECAUSE OF THE PRIMITIVE NATURE OF THE TECHNOLOGY, THERE WAS NO DIFFICULTY INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS.
- Newton Pulsifer, in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, has a singular knack for machinery. That is to say, he can make it stop working just by trying to make it work. And he always buys the worst. His computer is somehow always an early model with the hopelessly flawed chipset, or failing that, the early hideously bug-filled OS. And don't ask about his car.
- The Quark II computer produced by the original WayForward Technologies in Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which Richard MacDuff advises police (who have a non-functioning model) would be best used as a giant paperweight. (At which point the policeman he's talking to admits they're already using it as a doorstop.) The same book also contains a very much defective example of the not-exactly-a-computer-in the-conventional-sense Electric Monk, which does all your believing for you.
- The first entry in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Jedi Search, had Han Solo and Kyp Durron steal a ship that turned out to have a very old, very slow nav computer, which was a liability in a tense battle situation. As a result, they needed to brave the Maw, a dangerous black hole cluster, in order to evade pursuit. Thankfully this became a Suicidal "Gotcha!" thanks to the Force being with Kyp.
- Heath Robinson in Driftless Wormhole, to the point that vacuum tubes are a huge step up.
- Holly from Red Dwarf. Despite allegedly having an IQ of 6000, he (she in some of the later series) has gone very senile, and often blunderingly damages the people on the ship.
- In the Thunderbirds episode "Sun Probe", engineer "Brains" accidentally takes his experimental robot instead of a computer along on a rescue. When he's forced to ask the robot to make the calculations, it takes the robot a full 20 seconds (accompanied by obligatory clicks and whirrs) to make the calculation when (in spite of the pseudo-scientific nonsense-calculation used) it could have been solved on a pocket calculator as quickly as you could press the keys.
- Subverted in a Tales from the Darkside episode, "The Word Processor of the Gods", based on a Stephen King short story of the same title. Writer Richard Hagstrom receives a homemade word processor from his nephew Jonathan. The machine struggles with mundane text processing, but when it's commanded to rewrite Richard's life, the results are astounding.
- Vice Principal Crubbs' computer from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide was so prone to freezing and crashing that it would often launch him into profanity-laced rants about how much he hated it, likely with his hand on the intercom button. At the end of an episode, he smashed it with a hammer in order to get a new one directly after telling a student not to do so.
- In the Arrow episode "Crossing Lines", Ollie, in prison, manages to sneak into an office to do a websearch on one of the guards. His cellmate looks sceptically at the clunky keyboard and CRT monitor, wondering if it even has the internet.
- Jen's work computer in The IT Crowd is so infected with malware that Roy says he'd Mercy Kill it if it were human.
- In "His Red Right Hand" from The Mentalist, according to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech rant by California Bureau of Investigation director Virgil Minelli, the computers at CBI have "more viruses than a $10 whore."
- In The Adventure Zone: Amnesty, paranormal researcher Thacker kept all his notes on a Mac laptop that was at least 20 years old by the time the main characters needed it. They only used it as a reference in extreme cases, because each time it booted up might be its last.
- One of the Pigs In Space: Deep Dish Nine: The Next Generation skits on Muppets Tonight has Piggy unveil the ship's new computer, the A.L. 19.95 plus tax. Which then takes the rest of the sketch to calculate 2+2.
- Scummy Screen from The Trash Pack is a living one. He was dumped for his age (he's an old CRT monitor), and has poor pixels and gets computer viruses very easily...though in his case, these are colds for him.
- Any PC multiplayer game that requires all the participants to get matched up with each other ahead of time and then actually load into the game (think League of Legends) will cause accusations of this from faster loading players against the slowest. "Are you loading the game on a typewriter?" is a typical comment.
- One collection of comments from LOL's Tribunal (read: in-game chat) had an angry Lulu player denounce another gamer: "JESUS! Please upgrade your wooden PC powered by 8 hamsters on wheels who are digging for bitcoins in the wood chips!"
- In-universe, a couple of levels of TRON 2.0 invoke this. While the systems overrun by Z-lots aren't designed poorly, and the EN-1282 is a circa 1982 mainframe chugging along in 2003, other systems like the PDA and the Datawraith server are probably just as User-unfriendly on the outside as they are to Jet inside.
- Strong Bad from Homestar Runner apparently loves computers like this and uses them by choice. He mocks his friend/pet/lackey The Cheat for using a modern computer which doesn't have a text-based interface like Strong Bad's computers, he thinks a flat screen means someone cut the back of the monitor away, and he thinks The Cheat's computer mouse is a bar of soap.
- The Tandy 400 (his first computer), fits after Strong Bad continues to use it after its explosion.
- The Compy 386 (pictured above) doesn't show any negative qualities other than general obsolescence for its time. Well, that and having a massive hole blasted through the screen by Bubs with a shotgun in order to deal with a virus, much to Strong Bad's distress. (In fairness, said virus was warping reality and causing the line between reality and the website to completely fall apart.)
- The Lappy 486 features, according to Strong Bad, an "extremely portable" weight of 42 pounds and a battery life of "one-half of ten minutes."
- Averted with the Compé, which was current when the toons that featured it were made, but still fits this trope due to it having a text-based interface alongside a desktop interface, and the very pixelated text.
- The Lappier is presumably better than the Lappy, but it is unclear since it's only been in a few toons.
- In the Strong Bad Email "the facts", Strong Mad apparently "uses" a computer that's just a cardboard box and a paper grocery bag done up to look vaguely like a desktop computer.
Strong Mad: E-COMMERCE! E-BUSINESS!
- In Leftover Soup Jamie had a "Linux clusterfuck" of three laptops that were supposed to act as one machine but in practice didn't work without all three active at once and was much less powerful than even one of them by itself. He apparently bought the mess for $50 and the original creator had died without leaving any documentation. Professional computer geek Ellen tries for a full day and night to make it work with one laptop, but eventually just scraps them and buys him a new laptop.
- General Protection Fault: The secret organization of the Brotherhood of the Twisted Pair seek a geek "like none other, whose skills are without equal. He (or she) will initiate a golden age of geekdom, and lead a revolution of ideas that will revolutionize the computerized world." One of the tests is averting this trope with out-of-date machinery.
- Fooker passed by building a server out of computer equipment made in the late 1980s, when said components were at least a decade out of date.
- Sharon passed by writing down what you'd have to do in order to pull off a similar feat, using 20-year-old equipment.
- Yoshi passed by having the computer equipment a college kid could buy on a budget confiscated by the FBI, because of what he did with it.
- In Homestesque, Tyler has an Unbelievably Shitty Laptop with a CRT screen.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has the mad scientist Dean Martin (no, not that one), who uses a TRS-80.
- In Questionable Content, May's body is an Alleged Computer. It is literally falling apart, as shown here, here and here. The problem reaches its culmination here as her body's head falls off and the body catches fire—fortunately just after she's been put into a new and much better body.
- The Daily WTF has a few stories about these.
- In early 2021, Caddicarus decided to build a high-end gaming PC with help from LowSpecGamer (the latter of whom already had plenty of experience with PC building). But a ridiculous number of mishaps resulted in the computer not working properly at all. On top of difficulties getting the parts in the first place due to Covid-related supply chain issues, he ran into compatibility and power issues with the combination of parts he chose that kept the machine from booting up properly, requiring him to buy and swap out all sorts of different parts in hopes one would work. Even after he finally got it booted up, the computer started crashing frequently for reasons that neither he nor LSG or any other friends he consulted could discern. After losing 18 hours of recorded gaming footage to one reboot on the clunker, and after having spent more than £7,500 (about $10,000) on it, he finally decided to just go with a prebuilt computer. He would eventually post a video detailing what happened in large part to explain why he had an abnormally long gap in his upload schedule.
- The Comics Curmudgeon has a theory that the Archie comic strip is written by the "Archie Joke Generating Laugh Unit 3000" (the AJGLU-3000), a quasi-sentient but primitive, very large, computer that attempts to mimic human interaction for humor.
- The official website of George Carlin had an intro where the screen would initially show static while George could be heard demanding that the hamster be woken up and start running in its wheel so the site could function.
- The Bastard Operator from Hell keeps one antiquated machine around because his unfinished game of Dungeon is on it. Its hard disk failed a long time ago; the machine has been running from memory for untold years. Other stories also make fun of various outdated equipment, like one where he made a few bucks by selling users the right to chuck their crappy old hardware from the roof of the building. It's all good fun until an old mainframe lands on the boss' car...
- JonTron has a computer that shorts out when lightly doused with (his) blood in his first Flex Tape video.
Sseth: To keep it working I ripped out the thermal sensor, which means if I flip it over I can reliably cook eggs on the surface."
- Whatever computer Sseth is using in a review is rarely portrayed in a positive light when seen or mentioned. His laptop in particular is about a decade out of date, covered in a bizarre combination of old stickers, and in such a poor state of disrepair that Sseth classifies it an improvised taser in his Underrail review. Its condition only gets worse in later reviews.
- The laptop's temporary replacement in Sseth's Total Annihilation: Kingdoms review, which he dubs "I Have No Case and I Must Scream", is an even more extreme example, being nothing more than some loose parts wired together lacking so much as a power button, requiring that pins be shorted on the motherboard with a screwdriver to turn the computer on instead.
- The Fairly OddParents!:
- The Simpsons:
Agent Johnson: Mr. Simpson, this government computer can process over nine tax returns per day. Did you really think you could fool it?!
- In "Separate Vocations", the school's aptitude tests are scored by a huge mainframe-like machine named "Emma", which takes some Percussive Maintenance to operate. It said Bart should be a cop and Lisa a homemaker.
- In "Lisa Gets an 'A'", when Lisa's dishonest exam result pushes the school's average into the boundaries of acceptability, the school is awarded some money which is spent on, among other things, a Coleco desktop computer which is visibly about 15 years out of date at the time of the episode and was released to mediocre reception and poor sales even when it was new. Hapless salesman Gil advises rust-proofing.
- They use this to take a great jab at The IRS when Homer is audited in "The Trouble With Trillions". How triumphantly the agent brags about how "powerful" their computers really sells it:
- Peggy Hill in King of the Hill uses a Kaypro II (first released 1982) up until the turn of the millennium, at which point Hank buys her a 'blueberry' (read: G3) iMac.
- The Loud House: In the episode "Out of the Picture", the school computer Coach Pacowski has to use to edit the year book is horrendously slow.
- We Bare Bears: In "The Library", Panda tries to download and print out some practice tests for Chloe, who's cramming for a big exam. Unfortunately, the only computer available is a ridiculously outdated one with a CRT monitor ("Why does the screen bulge out?"), a dot-matrix printer, and a dial-up modem.
- The Aardvark in The Ant and the Aardvark cartoon "Technology Phooey" builds a computer to help him catch an ant, but its solutions are of dubious success. That's because it's actually an automatic pop-up toaster.
- The Ur-Example would have to be ENIAC, built in 1945. When first switched on, it drew so much electricity that it caused a brownout in adjacent localities. And in its early years of operation, vacuum tubes of the type that drove it would burn out several times daily. Also, to change its program, its operators had to rewire the thing!
- The Apple III is an early example, being (as Steve Wozniak described it) designed more by committee than by actual engineers. A practically non-existent cooling system (which was demanded by Steve Jobs, who hated cooling fans) and other design flaws led to reliability problems, while limited Apple II compatibility (apparently because Apple marketing were afraid the III would be seen as a toy otherwise) and poor native software support meant that many users had to rely on the Apple II backwards-compatibility feature to use the machine at all. Unfortunately, this feature only worked in 40-column mode, ruining the III's advantage of built-in 80-column support when upgrading a II with an 80-column expansion card would have been much cheaper. Despite the design flaws being ironed out in later machines, it still ended up being a flop.
- Another early example was the Sinclair ZX80, which in addition to an (allegedly) barely usable keyboard had the design flaw of not being able to display anything whilst a key was being pressed (making it unsuitable for anything like games, not that this stopped developers from making them anyway), as well as the available display area shrinking the more memory was used. Like its younger and more famous brother the ZX81, which had some of these design flaws fixed, it also only had a measly 1K of RAM (which could be expanded with a RAM pack that was often held in place with blu-tac) and monochrome display (even the Commodore VIC-20 had more than this). Nevertheless these trade-offs made it the first home computer in the UK available for under £100, ended up selling some 100,000 units and proving mass-market home computing was possible, leading to the phenomenally successful ZX81 and ZX Spectrum.
- Computers from budget brands tend to become this, where probably the only hardware that didn't require the bare minimum to pass was the parts from Intel or AMD.
- Motherboard manufacturer PC Chips was notorious during the 486, Pentium and Socket 7 eras for selling boards that promised a lot, but cut corners in several infuriating ways. While their 386 boards are solid, if bare-bones, their 486-class boards often used fake cache chips, complete with a hacked BIOS that made it seems like the cache was present. With no actual level-2 cache, even a high-end 486DX4 or Am5x86 would only perform slightly better than a cheap 486SX machine. Their Pentium-class boards used relabelednote versions of VIA, SiS and Acer chipsets that reportedly weren't as good as the real ones. They were also frequently branded as "VXpro", "TXpro" and "HXpro" note despite not being Intel products, which caused confusion among users and techies alike when the Intel chipset drivers for Windows either failed to install or caused system crashes. PC Chips is still around today under the "ECS" brand, after its two major components (Hsing Tech and Elitegroup) merged sometime in the 2000s, and while they're nowhere near as common now as they were in the mid-to-late 1990s, these boards still end up in the occasional cheap build.
- The big PC makers (Dell, Gateway, HP, Compaq) used or continue to use non-standard motherboard form factors that don't support replacements. Fine if the motherboard works, but if it fails you end up tossing all but the expansion cards and drives into the bin. Since the motherboard is non-standard, upgrading the CPU is a pain.
- Depending on manufacturing practices, production run differences can result in difficulties in installing or updating OEM drivers. Most notably, Dell's Latitude 3330 series business laptops have had subtle differences in the Intel HD graphics chip between different production batches (which may either be due to differences in assembly sites or changes in chipset due to raw stock availability between runs). This results in there existing multiple different versions of the Intel HD GPU driver existing for that specific model of laptop, resulting in much confusion and delay when updating or re-installing device drivers.
- Even some gaming oriented pre-builds are not immune. Despite being sold at large markups over the cost of parts and flashy looks, they tend to have brand name CPUs and GPUs and skimp on stuff like motherboards and power supplies. Moreover, the flashy cases tend to not be that great for airflow and general cooling capacity. There's a reason pre-builds are frowned upon by many enthusiasts who prefer to buy parts separately and build PCs themselves.
- Back in the 1990s, before the iMac came out, Apple released a line of low-end Macs only begrudgingly (Apple's stance, then as now, was that desktop Macs were meant to be high-end workstations), and so their quality was hit-or-miss.
- The two worst were 1990's Macintosh Classic (a reissue of the then four-years-old Mac Plus, which was itself an upgraded version of the Mac 128k/512k from 1984), and 1995's Power Macintosh 5200/6200 and 5300/6300 (a deliberately compromised design based on the Macintosh Quadra 630, which was itself not a bad machine, but was never meant to host a PowerPC CPU with a 64-bit data bus). The Mac Classic was cheap, but extremely slow even by 1990 standards and only supported monochrome graphics. The Performa x200/x300 was plagued with firmware bugs and compatibility problems due to its motherboard design; Low End Mac has the details. Both were eventually replaced by better machines; the Classic was replaced just a year later with the Classic II (based on the 32-bit LC II's internals), and the 5200/6200 evolved into the PCI-based, much faster and more compatible 6360note /6400/6500 "InstaTower" series.
- The Core Solo Mac mini also warrants a place on the list, owing to its very short support life, cheap single-core CPU at a time when dual-core systems were becoming standardnote , Intel GMA 950 graphics that performed noticeably worse in games than the ATI Radeon 9200 in its PowerPC G4-based predecessor, and most damningly, a 32-bit only CPU shortly before Apple started making OS X increasingly 64-bit, resulting in total incompatibility with OS X 10.7 Lion and later. Low End Mac has the details.
- Many older Macs used an ER14250 lithium battery for the real-time clock and parameter RAM backup instead of the more common CR2032 coin cells (or another type of lithium battery easily available at a corner store, such as a 123 or CR2 cell). Aside from being hard to find outside of specialty shops or online, ER14250s have another problem — older ones can explode just like bad capacitors, and the potential for damage is even worse because the "E" in "ER14250" means "lithium-thionyl chloride". Thionyl chloride is nasty stuff on its own, but get water involved and it turns into two different kinds of strong acid (hydrochloric and sulfurous/sulfur dioxide), both of which will happily chew away on any metallic surface they touch inside the case, including the copper and solder on the motherboard. Many an older Mac has been damaged beyond repair by this, which is why the first thing collectors do when putting a Mac into long-term storage is remove the battery. Some people that are handy with soldering have successfully replaced the ER14250 battery holders with CR2032 holders. Newer Macs use CR2032s from the factory (and a few 1990s Macs used PC/AT-style clock batteries), meaning they aren't as susceptible to this issue.
- During the early 2000s, numerous PC motherboards had bouts of "capacitor plague". where the offending capacitors would burst and leak. The cause was attributed to industrial espionage, after an engineer was suspected of stealing formulas for a new capacitor which were revealed to be incomplete.
- The battery backed-up clocks used in many Amigas (and particularly memory expansion boards such as Commodore's A501 (a standard upgrade for the A500 model for many years) mean that most vintage Amigas carrying them developed issues after 10-15 years, unless carefully treated by people with knowledge of the problem. Working Amigas are thus rarer today than most contemporary systems which sold similarly.
- Another, similar plague has since hit some types of vintage computing and A/V equipment, particularly Macs from the late 1980s and early 1990s. These machines all used Panasonic surface-mount electrolytic capacitors, which were state-of-the-art back then, but since they were the first generation of a new technology, they haven't stood the test of time well — they've started leaking and destroying circuitry in much the same way as the bad caps of the 2000s.
- One major reason Windows Vista was so poorly received was that it was a major leap forward in system requirements after six years of Windows XP, during which a lot of computer manufacturers had stopped bothering to upsell customers on ever-more-powerful hardware and instead just lowered their prices. Laptops under $700 and desktops under $400, which would have been unheard of in the early 2000s, became commonplace. Once Vista came out, these manufacturers tried to unload their remaining inventory with Vista preinstalled — a mandate from Microsoft — and ended up selling machines that could barely boot up, let alone run anything.
- Another reason behind Vista's botched launch was largely that the new Aero interface required a fairly high-end GPU to work at a time when most computers still shipped with atrocious Intel integrated graphics solutions, many of them laptops with no upgrade path or desktops without a proper AGP or PCI-Express slot for dedicated graphics. Intel actually had to get Microsoft to permit the "Vista Capable" spec for integrated graphics systems instead of the "Vista Ready" badge reserved for dedicated GPU systems just so all the pre-built OEM vendors could sell their woefully underpowered computers and claim compatibility with the latest OS.
- The success of Windows 7 — which featured only minor changes — was largely due to being released three years later, when every new computer on the market was more than capable of running it smoothly and stable Vista drivers were abundant. That last point about drivers is particularly critical considering that a lot of NT/2000/XP drivers would not work on Vista, especially 64-bit installations that required new drivers entirely, but drivers coded for Vista will, more or less, work all the way up to Windows 10.
- History has repeated itself with Windows 10. When Microsoft released the operating system in 2015, they allowed that it might be free to download for a year. Then, some months later, they decided to attach Windows 10 as a 'preferred' update for any computers capable of running it, automatically downloading it. Various issues inevitably resulted, as not only were there severe driver issues with numerous types of hardware, but many computers which were 'recommended' were incapable of running it at any speed beyond impossibly slow. Netbooks were the worst offenders. The problem has also reared its head in another way: As Windows XP and Windows Vista are no longer officially supported by Microsoft, not only are they becoming more and more an example, but if the customer attempts to update the computer to 10...
- Windows 11 has the exact opposite issue from Windows 10: It locks out computers that are just over 3 years old by mandating specific types of CPUs and hardware security features as a minimum. This was a case of extraordinarily bad timing on Microsoft's part, since Windows 11 was announced in the middle of a worldwide silicon shortage, cryptomining craze and scalper boom (which in turn made the requisite CPU and motherboard upgrades hard to come by); many people were angry at Microsoft for what they saw as an arbitrary and unreasonable list of requirements.note However, the negative publicity isn't as bad as Windows 10's was, since the upgrade to Windows 11 is completely optional, and Windows 10 support is set to continue for several more years at minimum.
- At the turn of the millennium, Microsoft released two operating systems with confusingly similar names: Windows 2000, and Windows Millennium Edition (if you worked tech support at the time, you could expect about half your calls to be from someone claiming their computer runs "Windows Millennium 2000"). While 2000 earned a reputation as being stable, sturdy and nearly above any reproachnote due to it running off NT underpinnings (which led Microsoft to add the subtitle "Built on NT Technology" on the boot splash), Millennium has multiple glitches and questionable design decisions that created some truly remarkable problems, such as the System Restore folder feature ballooning out of control until the entire hard drive was consumed unless turned off, files going above 4GB getting automatically deletednote and system settings defaults setting up a constantly readjusting dynamic page memory that would keep the hard drive active at all times. That last one could cause premature disk wear that might eventually lead to complete drive failure. Getting this version to work correctly could get a savvy tech user suspected of using black magic. Much of the criticism behind Me was because of the fact that it was derived from the now-antiquated Windows 9x architecture, albeit with real-mode DOS access Dummied Out, reputedly to shorten boot times and improve on reliability. Not to mention that Windows Me was Christmas Rushed for a summer release as a stopgap while Neptune, which was to be the consumer-oriented edition of 2000, was delayed in favour of Me for whatever reason. If there's any silver lining to it, the NT-derived Windows XP born from the ashes of Neptune and the failure of Me would be fondly remembered as one of the best if not the best Windows release of all time.
- The Coleco Adam: the list of "Problems" on its Wikipedia entry reads like a series of gags from a National Lampoon movie. Most notably, it generated an electromagnetic surge on startup that could wipe any tapes or disks left in or near it (and the manual recommended inserting them before booting up), and the whole thing ran off the power supply from its bundled printer. The one bright spot on the original machine was its keyboard, an early premium rubber-dome model made by parties unknownnote in Japan.
- The 8-Bit Guy - in the video AST Computer - Tales from Tech Support David talks about the staggering return rate of the titular computers. Some calls were after the computer had caught fire or were still smoking.
- As smartphones were technically portable computers, those smartphones which could blow up due to various reasons from overheating to poor power management count, but Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 takes the cake with how hyped, how pricey, and how good performance and feature wise it was. Except the power regulations were poor and the battery quality was also poor, leading to the phone catching fire or popping up into a bar of hot metal in the most unfortunate situations. The backlash was tremendous, the phone quickly became a contraband, and Samsung even updated the phone to drastically lower the performance, even stopping charging above 15%! On the other hand, Samsung's full-disclosure approach to the problem contrasted with multiple other companies' "deny everything" scandals at the time, allowing the Samsung Galaxy brand to survive the Note 7's failure. The Note series didn't last much longer, though; Samsung would eventually roll the Note series' features into the Galaxy S series, starting with the Galaxy S21 in 2021.
- Likewise both cheap, low-end, Android Go-powered smartphones that use hardware that was already low-end in specs when it was released years ago and those of better specs but running resource-hungry Android-based OSes instead of pure, stock, Android. While they may work finely for calls, messages, or WhatsApp anything more than that and serious multitasking will mean booting and/or apps having long loading times, apps being closed in the background to get extra memory, and random freezes up to system lockups.
- Ever since the original iPad came out, numerous Android tablets from a myriad of manufacturers cashed in on the nascent smart device market. While some of them are of merit like Samsung's Galaxy Tab line, lower-end models especially those budget devices running off a MediaTek or Allwinner systems-on-chip tend to end up like this either due to poor design, crappy hardware, or badly optimised software suffering of the same problems as the cheap smartphones noted above. Even name-brand tablets like those from Fuhu's Nabi line of children's tablets received criticism for the reasons mentioned above—in the case of Nabi, it suffered from a sluggish UI, had poor battery life and in some cases have their batteries bloat up as well. Unfortunately, the predominance of these crap tablets damaged the reputation of Android tablets before the good ones could be launched, causing a vicious cycle of developers not optimising their Android app for tablets because not enough people buy Android tablets and people avoiding Android tablets because apps aren't optimised for them, resulting in the iPad dominating the market.
- It gets even worse with the Sprout Cubby tablet, which also had its own laundry list of reliability issues, the most common being its delicate LCD panel. To give people an idea on how easily broken the Cubby is, one parent claimed that their daughter trashed the LCD screen within a day of use, not to mention that disassembling the Cubby would reveal that the internals look jerry-rigged◊ compared to those of the Amazon Fire which while still regarded as cheap garbage, is more solidly constructed. You'd think that the company behind the device would take durability very much into account considering the Cubby's intended audience, but somehow they skimped on that and decided to pass off a shoddily-built device as something children would be able to play with reliably.
- Apple's iOS devices tend to start throttling their speeds as they age in, so as not to stress their ageing lithium batteries too much in theory. In practice, it makes their performance drop off, leading to complaints of both their battery lives and their general performance ageing badly. Apple, naturally, helpfully suggests that the best way to resolve this is to trade in for a newer model.
- The most commonly-reported reason for performance issues in most ageing computers/electronics is that the primary memory storage is either suboptimal or degrades faster than expected. For example:
- The first-generation Google Nexus 7 tablet had a serious issue of flash memory performance degradation as it aged, making seem to slow to a crawl after a few years.
- The most common complaint of laptops suddenly seeming to hit a wall in performance speed after the advent of the Core i-series Intel processors was due to the continued use of slower, "power-saving" hard drives with throttled disk spin rates in order to reduce power consumption. You see, Windows sometimes needs to run disk-intensive operations due to writing/rewriting either files or cached information. However, after a few months of writing/deleting/rewriting files, the hard drive's contents can get rather fragmented, resulting in increased seeking times as the hard drives would need to spin more in order to access, read, or write files. On budget machines that already had slower processors, this would result in a vicious cycle of waiting for processor operations, then waiting for a hard drive to wake up and spin up to speed, then wait for it to finish accessing a fragmented file or two, resulting in the alleged "power saving" drive wasting energy alternating between idling and spinning up/down between processor operations. The easiest, if pricey, solution to this issue is to transfer the disk image into a solid state drive, which doesn't rely on a fixed spinning disk medium to retain data and has much better file access speeds (write speeds may vary depending how good a solid state drive you invest in).
- Let's not forget the much-publicised hardware failures encountered by Xbox 360 owners during its early days, where early-revision "Xenon" models tend to die easily from overheating and from broken solder joints caused by said thermal issues, and thus display the now-infamous Red Ring of Death (RROD), no thanks to Microsoft cutting corners to keep production costs at a minimum. And not only that, design flaws with the optical drive and certain system software revisions were also the subject of intense scrutiny and subsequent litigation.
- The PlayStation 3 isn't spared from any hardware issues either, the most infamous of which is the "Yellow Light of Death" especially on older "fat" models. They're caused by a number of factors, namely but not limited to shoddy solder, capacitor issues, overheating or dying chips amongst other things. And the only reason why Sony wasn't scapegoated as much compared to Microsoft was the reported number of cases—10% of PS3s end up with a YLOD whilst nearly a quarter of the Xbox 360 user base had experienced the RROD in some form according to one source.
- PC World did an article about the 25 worst PCs of all time, and most of the listed were badly compromised budget PCs. Number one was notable, though, for being an entire PC brand instead of just one PC. Packard Bell computers were sold in America from the mid eighties to 2000, and (despite the prestigious-sounding name) were in no way associated with Hewlett Packard, Bell Labs or the Bell Systemnote . While their first machines were decent but nothing to speak of otherwise (many of them were rebadged Samsung machines), once they switched to their own manufacturing in Taiwan around 1990, they got a reputation for being cheapnote , unusually designednote , and horridly unreliable note . Despite all this, they were the best selling PCs through much of The '90s, before losing a lawsuit to Compaq in 1995 about undisclosed use of recycled parts (something everyone else did at the time as well, but disclosed in their warranty statements), resulting in them being bought out by NEC that year and pulled from American shores by 2000. The brand name eventually ended up at Acer, who only uses it in Europe and the Middle East.
- The Barbie and Hot Wheels computers made by Patriot Computers under licence from Mattel in 1999 were doomed to fail from the get-go. Sure, it banked on Barbie and Hot Wheels, both being iconic toy franchises, but not only were industry analysts sceptical on Patriot's reliance on gender stereotypes, the computers—which were little more than very-low end small form factor PCs with garish, infantile designs painted on them—had a high rate of failure especially with their power supplies which used a rather uncommon form factor. Such was the failure rate that Patriot's support lines were flooded by upset parents whose children's PCs died as a result of faulty hardware, and Patriot spent so much time and effort with addressing these issues—alongside the fact that they still took orders—that the company went bankrupt as a result with 3,100 PC orders remaining undelivered. Mattel had to placate those whose orders were unfulfilled with a “free gift package” containing a $100 toy and gift certificate voucher.
- Controversy ensued in 1994 when Disney's Animated Storybook: The Lion King crashed on a number of Compaq Presario computers that came bundled with the game which was rushed in time for Christmas. Due to issues with the Presarios in question, particularly certain video drivers which weren't thoroughly tested with Microsoft's WinG graphics API, Disney's support lines were flooded with calls from angry parents whose children were crying as they couldn't get the game to work properly. Eventually, the initial release was recalled and amended pressings of the game with better hardware support was released both as a new purchase and as a free exchange for the earlier release. The Lion King debacle eventually led Microsoft to develop the more popular DirectX API, whose development was also spurred by the fact that game developers held on to MS-DOS and were leery of the development challenges Windows imposed on developers.
- Chromebooks have this reputation among some users, due to the fact that early on they could only run web apps. Machines purchased by schools also tend to lock down students from doing anything remotely fun on them, and cheaper models tend to skimp on build quality.