Underrated in America: RadioShack

It's all too easy to make fun of RadioShack. The home electronics chain endures with whole walls devoted to different kinds of wires, cables and connectors. A 2007 spoof , "Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business," from The Onion has its chief executive saying, "I wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must."

Well, I certainly do. I'll go there for an ethernet cable, a cheap phone, an AC adapter, even a quick birthday present for a child's party. If I need some kind of component to get my ancient VCR hooked up to my new TV, I know where to turn.

RadioShack is a bridge from old technology to the new. The stores are ubiquitous and remain an easy stop for picking up items that can solve all sorts of electronics problems faced by modern families -- a phone with three handsets, a box to convert your television to receive digital signals (that was a big recent driver of sales).