The 10 Worst PCs of All Time
Monday, March 19, 2007; 2:32 PM
Misery, heartbreak, sorrow, and despair. No, I'm not talking about adolescence; I'm referring to what happens when you're stuck with a PC from Hell. Systems that were overpriced and underpowered, parts that failed two days after the warranty expired, marathon phone calls with brain-dead tech support staff--over the years we've suffered more than our share of ills, and so have millions of other innocent PC users.
But picking these 10 Worst PCs of All Time wasn't as easy as it sounds. First we had to set a few ground rules. Number one, we focused strictly on desktops. (We'll leave the flaming/exploding laptops for another occasion.) Two, these machines had to have shipped to consumers--no vaporware or concept computers allowed. Tres, we decided to ignore systems we've kicked around elsewhere (like the IBM PCjr, the Gateway 10th Anniversary PC, and the FreePC, all part of our 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time story), and hone in on a different batch of turkeys.
After that, it was a matter of pollingPC Worldeditors, past and present, and debating the demerits of all the systems that caused us migraines over the years. We had to resort to Indian leg wrestling matches to settle on the final ten. (See the list of the worst.)
Of course, maybe you had a good experience with one of these machines. Or perhaps you had a system that isn't on this list but was so nightmarish Freddy Krueger would be scared to turn it on. If so, we want to hear about it. Look for a Comment link or go to our Forums.
#10. Dell Dimension 4600 (2003)
Consumers who purchased this machine entered a new dimension all right, the altered dimension of Dell Hell. The Dimension 4600 was only a middling machine when new, but after about a year--or shortly after the standard warranty expired--power supplies in some machines began to fail. Worse, Dell's customer support misdiagnosed some of these problems as motherboard failures.
Dell's support forums filled up with complaints from similarly powerless users, but the company refused to admit to defects with the power supply. (Dell politely declined to comment for this article.) The Dimension 4600's problems were yet one more reason why the "Dude, You've Got a Dell" tagline became a joke--though not a particularly amusing one for some customers.
#9. New Internet Computer (2000)
At $199 sans monitor, Larry Ellison's New Internet Computer was cheap, but not all that useful. Released in August 2000 when broadband access was still just a twinkle in most users' eyes, the NIC relied on painfully slow dial-up connections. With no hard drive and a CD-ROM-based Linux operating system, it gave you no way to install software so you could work offline--and back then we didn't have Web-based Google apps to take the place of desktop software.
Though hyped to the gills as a PC replacement, the NIC sold fewer than 50,000 units--just a tad short of the 5 million Ellison set as a goal for its first year. In June 2003, the New Internet Computer Company shuttered its doors, more a victim of bad timing than bad engineering.
Today, a $200 Linux-based Net client sounds mighty tempting--one reason why a dedicated band of NIC fans are attempting to revive the machine.
#8. eMachines eTower 366c (1999)