8 Products That Were Ahead of Their Time

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LatiosXT

I wouldn't call the Virtual Boy ahead of its time, simply because there isn't anything out on the market that's like it that took off.

And super tower cases aren't really a thing these days. Most people on the forum recommend MidATX cases at the biggest. They might've been useful 15 years ago when expansion slots were more useful (like when having a sound card actually was worthwhile). But if you look at what most people buy today, there's no point for them to go beyond Mini-ITX boards. And with roomy Mini-ITX cases, I see them as more practical.

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stdfr33

Sounds cards are important. I've used every integrated solution and nothing will compare with a dedicated one. My 4 year old creative card runs circles around anything available today. Especially if you use a halfway decent sound system and anything but headphones.

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vrmlbasic

I have an ATX board in a mid tower case right now and it is unbearably cramped. I made the mistake of getting a non-modular power supply (pretty sure it was the MPC recommended power supply too lol) and there just isn't enough space in a mid tower for all of those cords + my many SATA cables.

I'm o_0 about the idea of a "roomy" ITX case as I can only (and have only) see it being "roomy" relative to other tiny cases but not actually roomy on its own, similar to how something can be "better" than another something but still not actually "good".

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LatiosXT

Most builds I've come across have at most three drives. The most I've worked with (three HDDs + ODD) I've been able to work somewhat comfortably in the first Antec Nine Hundred. And that thing is a fluster cluck of cables already.

Cable routing takes some thinking, you don't just throw cables randomly somewhere.

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Chad727

I had a similar build to what you described and it did turn into a mess eventually. Then I upgraded to the 1200. That made my life much easier. It has much better cable routing options, better ventilation, air filtration, and the additional 3 bays. It might not seem like a big deal but I was in the 900 every month with compressed air and a shop vac running just outside of the case cleaning out the dust. The airflow was just too restricted. That's not a problem with the 1200. You should really think about upgrading to the 1200 unless space is an issue.

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ApathyCurve

The Virtual Boy was not an attempt at a head-tracking virtual reality device a la the Oculus Rift. It was a 2.5-D, single-color screen that was supposed to convey depth. You played it sitting on a stand on the table in front of you, using a typical controller. It failed miserably at its design premise, but it was a masterful tool for inducing splitting headaches. Yes, I owned one.

The closest comparison to the Oculus Rift is the VFX-1 -- which also failed miserably, as will the Oculus Rift. The core design concept is flawed, and no amount of technology will fix that flaw. Yes, I owned a VFX-1. Everything this guy says is true:

http://www.incgamers.com/2013/03/is-vr-and-oculus-rift-really-the-next-big-thing-in-gaming-again

But the majority of you don't believe me. That's because you're emotionally invested in the idea of VR and have lost any semblance of objectivity in the matter. That's fine. In a few years, I'll still be right and you'll be several hundred dollars poorer for having learned the lesson the hard way.

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John Pombrio

Like 5.1 headphones, a headset that can emulate a huge screen is the ultimate in shrinking and personal electronics. I don't care about head tracking or 3D, just the idea of having a movie theater view while in a chair is an awesome idea. Will it happen? of course at some time or another and probably with lasers beamed at your eyes but it will happen, just not now.

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jbitzer

I agree with you. I think VR is dumb, I don't want to immerse myself in anything that requires more than sitting and looking straight ahead for my gaming. Looking around, waving my arms, all that crap is defeating the whole purpose of my relaxing with a game.

No one's clamoring for movies that are completely immersive that you have to walk from location to location following the main character around, and we all have WIIs sitting around gathering dust.

Why won't this VR thing die?

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gmvolk

VR is not dumb, it's still in it's infancy. Do I want it now, no. But I can see this as a stepping stone to bigger and better VR in the future. Maybe where we may even have holodecks so to speak.

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vrmlbasic

Speaking of infancy, from what I've seen the "cutting edge" VR tech today that allows one to "walk" in the VR world looks eerily like a child's walker :(

One saving grace of this VR stuff is that the clunky goggles prevent the user from seeing how utterly ridiculous he looks while using it lol.

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schmag

aaahhh yes

the dvd decoder card in pic 4.... yup, still have mine, in a closet instead of a chassis.

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Cy-Kill

'Rio PMP 300: The original MP3 player, it was around for three years before Apple's iPod stole the spotlight.'

WRONG!

The first MP3 player was the Eiger Labs MPMan F10, the Diamond Rio PMP300 followed!

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gmvolk

I still have my Rio CD-MP3 player. Have not touched it in years, but I remember burning CDs of MP3s every other week. My boss at the time won the PMP 300 from Diamond, I told him it was a great MP3 player, but Diamond had the problem of abandoning product after a few months. The RIOs were some of the top of the line.

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audiomatron

I won a Dell streak from Dell's booth at VMWorld that year. It was locked to AT&T, but my carrier is cSpire, so I didn't really use it much. I sold it to a friend. I recall several others who now have these huge phones making fun of him for how big it was.

Anyway, he said he hated that phone. He liked the phone itself, but apparently it got crappy service.

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jbitzer

Virtual boy wasn't ahead of its time so much as a terrible implementation of something.

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MaximumMike

1. I had a server case much like the Dream Machine 2000 back in 98 or 99. I think I still have it in my attic.

2. I have a friend who does the testing on all the new cellphones that come out. The manufacturers don't always ask for the test devices back. He inherited a Dell streak developer phone after the testing was complete on it. To this day he rants about how awesome that phone was when he had it. It was hardly ahead of its time, as more popular phablets began to trickle onto the market just after its release. This isn't a case of a technology coming out too early, but of a company with no identity ceasing to stick with a product category while others passed them up.

3. You guys are quite mistaken about the Microsoft tablet "prototype". So let me explain the facts to you. Microsft's tablet was no mere prototype as you have implied. Tablets were a product category long before the iPad entered the market, and from my short stint at Best Buy, they seemed to be a fairly successful niche.

When Apple released it's device calling it a tablet my head went through the roof because it lacked most of the features that made a tablet what it was. Technically, their iPad device was a slate, not a tablet. I tried without fail to convince every iPad toting moron I knew that the over priced piece of shit (slate) they were buying was no more a tablet than a netbook was a laptop. But as usual, Apple's marketing department won out over common sense and years of established product recognition.

However, despite Apple's over the top marketing and insistence that it had the only tablet on the market (shamefully with lots of help from popular tech sites), you were still able to buy real tablets for a few years after the iPad's initial launch. Even then I showed people a feature by feature breakdown of real tablets versus the iPad (and at a much lower cost), and they just were only interested in eating from the trough of Apple. Sadly, what we have here is the case of a real and useful product category that was devoured by Apple marketing and an oblivious, ignorant consumer base that went along with it.

Anyone I know who understood the value of real tablets still hates Apple for killing this product category, as there is now no viable alternative to these devices. Apple's slate doesn't cut it, nor do any of the other slates everyone calls tablets these days. But that is the way of Apple, to rebrand everything in an effort to make their inferior shitty products look superior.

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Slugbait

Agreed on tablet "prototype". Multiple OEMs released tablets running WinXP Tablet Edition, usually utilizing convertible, slate or UMPC form factors. Bill Gates personally showed off all of the various form factors at the company meeting in 2002. A couple of models were convertibles that could be switched to slates on the fly.

I personally tested an INK-compatible program on a Toshiba Tecra tablet, which was a convertible. I was stopped by a cast member at Disneyland one time for a quick survey, she was using a slate. Office XP needed the Tablet Pack add-on, but Office 2003 had native support for tablets baked in. Microsoft continued releasing Tablet Editions for Vista and Win7, and while you didn't see that many tablets at Best Buy anymore, they were still around.

It was a bit more successful than a "prototype"

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schmag

I was working at a hospital right around 2004 where we deployed fujitsu lifebook tablet pc's as part of an electronic medical records implementation.

they weren't as slim as today's tablets, they were more comparable to today's convertible pc's but yes... they were not mere prototypes.

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Cy-Kill

It's the same with online stores, there'll be a section for ipads, and then everything else will be under "tablets", the same with the iphone, it gets its own category, and everthing else is under "cellphones"!

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John Pombrio

The Apple Newton should be in this list. A lot of the others were too expensive. They just needed Moore's law to become more affordable and capable.

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lordfirefox

Virtual Boy was not ahead of it's time, it was a POS from the get-go.

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wkwilley2

The premise behind the design was in the right place, it was just under developed. They cut corners to cut down on costs (like the single color screen) and the price was still too high at the time compared to other consoles (was 180 USD @ release).

They also restricted the amount of game companies that could develop games for the platform because they wanted to keep the quality of the games high, but no one knew how to program the games, so they only released 20 some games in total, and none of the titles made the console worth buying.

I distinctly remember playing with a VB back in the day, besides the eye and neck strain, it was very cool. Just needed more time in development and more support from game studios.

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ness64

Yeah, even though I am a diehard Nintendo fan (that likes PCs too!), the Virtual Boy was pretty crappy.

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kiaghi7

Ummm for it to be "ahead of its time" presumably implies a technology that existed but didn't see adoption until much later, however 3Dfx's linked interface is what nVidia later extrapolated (after they bought out 3Dfx) into SLi.

That said, it wasn't "ahead of its time" at all, it was plenty common for people to use two VooDoo2 cards rather than forking out more for the individually more powerful Geforce cards of the day, because while a single VooDoo2 card was weaker, together they were considerably more powerful and still cheaper... Meanwhile you couldn't partner up the Geforce cards at all back then.

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wumpus

A few notes:
Nvidia's first product: the NV1 was certainly ahead of its time. It was pretty much junk, although I think it worked as a 2d PCI card, keeping nvidia alive to make the NV3? (at least the NV2 was canceled) and begin to compare to 3dfx.

3dfx was pretty much ahead of their time as well, but largely because the voodoo(1) card required a whopping 2M of [low latency] DRAM. That was expensive back then and 3dfx only became big when the price of RAM dropped fast.

There was also a competitor to the NV1 sold by creative as the "video blaster". It didn't work any better, was tied to the dying 486 and VL bus, and never heard from again.

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vrmlbasic

I miss 3dfx. Still brings a smile to my face when I play old games with a "Glide" option in the video settings. Of course, that smile inverts when I realize how poorly the game plays on OGL or DX unless some fans have come up with a patch to fix it, but alas.

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gmvolk

I loved my VooDoo2 cards! 3Dfx was the card to get, until the Voodoo 5 came out.

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froggz

I think is too early to say Oculus Rift will succeed were the VB failed. Maybe four days ago I would have supported that theory, but that was before they sold their souls to the devil.

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wkwilley2

Here's to hoping Zuckerburg holds to his promise and keeps developing the Oculus with games in mind.

And hopefully the screens won't be cluttered with FB notifications >.<

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Paper Jam

"With Facebook’s Oculus Rift, you will get to experience what it’s like to be in a room of targeted ads based on your Facebook profile"

Kaz Hirai

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gmvolk

I wonder if facebook is going to try to make something like that second life that was big oh so long ago.

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AFDozerman

I think you mean Faceboo... oh..