Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gadget makers are crazy,,,

I suspect gadget makers are crazy.

I say this because generally you look at a new gadget and emit "oooh" and "aahhhh" then then "wait wut?" when you see the few jarring bonehead decisions that make you wonder "gee, would doing that right have cost so much as to make this un-sellable?"

Lets look at a simple example - LG motion phone. It's a decent bit of hardware - dual core snapdragon S4, 1GB RAM, and in some cases seems to perform better than my nexus 7 tablet. The big letdown - a 320x480 resolution screen. At such a pathetically low resolution, it's as if LG was thinking - hey, we need to ensure this doesn't cannibalize sales of our better stuff. That would work if people were actually buying their better stuff...

Speaking of Nexus 7, lets look at Nexus 7 devices. You've got a decent screen, battery life, quad core Cortex A9 Tegra 3. Surely the mighty Google didn't mess up anywhere? Well, I'm off to watch a movie. Let me just stick this sd card in... DAMMIT! Seriously? Really Google? Why no SD card? Any reason you give can and will be considered bullshit. Luckily, you can root the device and mount USB drives but you're left with a funky dongle, on a physically weak (micro usb) connector. A solid chinese tablet with good replacement ROMs can easily snag the "awesome" seat from this.

OK, what else? Lets look at mini laptops.
Acer w510 -
I love this device. You buy an atom chip for general purpose computing - that said, i'll shit on this version of atom next. What's awesome about this device? 18 hours of battery life, and the keyboard fits the screen, not only in laptop mode, but also in tablet mode to extend battery life.

Acer W3 -
Someone beat this device with the ugly stick until the keyboard swelled, and no longer attached itself to the tablet properly. Really Acer? Why oh why give up on the killer design you had with the w510? just make an 8 inch model of the w510. No? Big keyboard envy? Weaksauce!

Intel's Clovertrail - MOAR WEAKSAUCE?!? Imation Technologies made a crappy GPU solution resulting in no Linux support, no screen scaling, and horrible 3d performance. Performance so bad, even light games struggle. If intel wants to be taken seriously competing against ARM in android and windows 8 tablets, they've going to have to put better graphics in their quad core release. This really sucks because it will affect EVERY vendor using their cpu. This hasn't been so... sucky, since Atom Z5xx CPUs using GMA500. Another Imation Technologies fiasco. Once again massive acceleration problems in windows, and a complete hackjob to get working in Linux.

Samsung Galaxy S4? cheap looking body (though it can be overlooked) and dim screen. HTC one? "Bling feed" - or battery sucking worthlessness.

Nintendo Wii U? Lower power than older stuff and quirky controllers. The Xbox One? a few weeks ago, it was a DRM nightmare, now it's a DRM threat.

Windows 8 - a context switch and screen change every time I list my apps. That's crap. I've got multiple windows tiled on my screen now, and I'm not going back to such a single tasking premise. I work on several things at once, and don't need to be breaking concentration with screen switches each time. Microsoft should have listened. They were forced to listen and are now bringing it back.

Apple - Your Mac PRO is gorgeous, but it's not pro. don't insult the public that way. It's a computer in a can. There's no harddrive space, expansion is all through external ports. Maybe the Mac way to upgrade is to buy a new system, but I'm used to dropping in new sound/graphics cards, adding harddrives, memory etc. Did people really want a computer shaped like a giant black soda can, has 0 drive bays, and no available pci/pci-e slots?

Here's a decent way to make something - reach out to the community and ask what they'd like to see in a product. People that use similar products, and are familiar with it and can provide feedback on what they found advantageous on various devices. Make said product to cater to most within a particular price limit, and then evolve the product. Don't scrap all that work completely. Ask the community for input on how to improve it, and not just start from scratch.

Some examples of products that evolved from feed back are lumopro 160 (manual stobist flash), DSLRs evolved from feedback, and continue to implement features pros ask for. Open Pandora, is a 5" ubuntu laptop based on arm cortex that through it's creation, received some design upgrades and software requested/designed by the community. Heck even comic books took a page out of this and killed off Jason Todd (i.e. most annoying robin) based on public vote.