These two stores have been pumping out the gadgets since way back when (I first became cognizant of them in the 1980s).
The chess boards and actual tools aside, it strikes me that nearly all of their China-made electronics have serious design flaws.
We recently got a little metallic alarm clock from Brookstone that lights up in red, green, and blue. Flaws:
It has a battery inside and the instructions say that it has a “battery backup.” But if you remove the power cord without moving the switch to battery power, whoops! There’s no backup at all, and you now have to reset the whole thing. The upshot is that you won’t be waking up on time if the power goes out. MAJOR FLAW!
The power cord plugs in the back. It gets in the way when you’re trying to set the thing.
You use the controls in the back to set it, but you have to look at the front in order to see the digits. This is pretty annoying.
Overall, it has that cheapass China-made gadget-store clumsiness to it.
Got any others?