The Worst Tech Letdowns of 2016
Here are the biggest gear disappointments of the year according to our writers and commenters.
Every year, we get our hopes up for the next wave of technological toys that will make it easier and faster to tell our stories, and some of them don't quite meet expectations. See examples A, B, C and D below.
When the Craft camera was announced, it offered a lot of amazing features at a spectacular price. However, instead of going for the crowdfunding path (like the successfully financed Chronos), Craft choose instead to take deposits for a promised ship date of 2016. As the end of December 2016 approaches, we haven't seen any Craft cameras out in the field or heard from any owners receiving their cameras, which is a disappointment.
RED went through a similar process nearly a decade ago with its initial launch, using an announcement for an amazing camera at a crazy price point and a small deposit to get in line to own one. RED, too, missed all of its initial shipping deadlines, but eventually shipped a camera that dramatically changed the industry. Fingers crossed that Craft will do the same, and ship in the near future with performance that makes us forget about missed deadlines, but for now we're definitely let down.
Karma drones keep falling from the sky. It might seem like we're stuck on this story, and it probably gets mentioned every week on the Indie Film Weekly podcast, but it is indeed big news. Drones falling from the sky could really injure someone, and a reputable company like GoPro making a drone that falls from the sky is a shocker. While there have always been hiccups with drones, it's often with a DIY kit or a smaller brand, and the bigger drone brands like DJI and Yuneec make very reliable flyers that you can trust to be safe if safely operated. A mainstream brand like GoPro making a drone is going to put that aircraft in the hands of a much wider swath of the public, and it has to do everything possible to ensure safe operation, which it failed to do.
In its defense, after initially trying to hide the announcement in the election news cycle by announcing the recall at 6pm on election day, GoPro has gotten its act together and managed the recall well, with everyone who purchased a Karma drone getting a free Hero5 in exchange, which is pretty cool. We're still just glad no one was injured.
Some called it dongle-gate. Others called it the "bad-touch bar." Apple had to discount the dongles, and marketing VP Phil Schiller had to make a statement on the reasons for the RAM being limited to 16GB. Apple product launches have always had some controversy (Where did the disc drive go? Where did the floppy drive go?) but eventually the product was strong enough to overcome the criticism and find its place in the world.
While the full NFS review will be out later this week, the first impression of most users hasn't been strong enough to overcome the drawbacks, and even longtime Apple diehards found themselves disappointed. For many tasks, the computer is not faster, and for some it's even slower than the previous generation. Digilloyd returned his, but did make it clear that it was a tough call and the new model will work well for many; it just doesn't fit his needs. There are a few places where it really excels, but for many the jury remains out on whether the upgrade is worth the price. Which, for a new Macbook Pro, which used to be an item worth the immediate upgrade no matter what, is a major disappointment.
First love is hard to get over, and can linger on for years after you think you've moved on. While there wasn't any reason to expect that Canon was going to make the 5D we want, there was still hope, and when it was released, longtime fans were majorly disappointed. 4K via crop, mJPEG codec, limited bandwidth files—overall it felt like video was still an afterthought and that the 5D was primarily meant to be a great stills camera. Which we always knew, of course—even in the Mark II video was an afterthought—but we were so hungry for beautiful video images we ate it up and bought the camera in droves.
After that magic period with the Mark II, when the whole DSLR revolution (and this website along with it) exploded, Canon moved on to the C line (pricier than the 5D), and we indie folk moved on to Sony A7 and Panasonic GH and others. But, in our hearts, we hoped that with the Mark IV Canon would let us know they were still thinking about us the way we were thinking about them. It turns out that they aren't. But that's OK. We've got better cameras to play with now. Still, we'll always think fondly of that summer with the Mark II, way back when.
What about you? What were your best/worst gear fails this year?