Networking

8 reasons why most gadgets suck


My friend Jeremy Toeman, a consumer electronics veteran who has brought some excellent products to market (including the Slingbox and the Drobo), has a great post on his blog titled "8 reasons why most gadgets suck."

Here are his top 3 reasons:

  1. "They are ill-conceived. I think the picture of the MP3 player slash breathalyzer I took at CES is the best example here. Too many people sitting in board rooms thinking up crazy ideas that apply to nobody. Also, convergence for the sake of convergence is a terrible idea. If you think consumers want keyboards in their living rooms, or more remote controls, or to carry around something that doesn’t fit in a pocket OR a backpack, you have the wrong consumer experts on your team."
  2. "Too much jargon. If the average Joe can’t figure out how to add contacts using a Moto RAZR, forget putting in a network setup screen that asks them which type of wireless network security their SSID uses. If you can’t figure out how to make a setup screen have regular old English, then you’ve made your product too hard to figure out by regular people. Think of it this way: the average person out there is uncomfortable with the concepts of “inputs and outputs” on their stereos - so if you are even minorly more sophisticated than that, you are confusing people."
  3. "Unusable interfaces. A product should be usable without an instruction manual. Sending an SMS, synching MP3s or podcasts, and creating Season Passes should be as easy as making instant popcorn in the microwave. Granted there’s always room for “power user features” but the power users should be the 20%, not the 80%, of people who buy your product. If your “usability designer” (who probably has a Ph. D) shows you something and you don’t instantly understand it without explanation, it’s not good enough."

Check out the full post to see reasons 5 through 8.

So what are the biggest issues you have with the gadgets you own? Post them as a comment.
4 comments
colin.hempsey
colin.hempsey

The problem is that manufacturers are putting how good a gadget looks over everything else. Take my Samsung E840 mobile phone for example. It looks great, it's probably one of the best looking phones ever made. Its also the biggest PITA to use out of any phone I have ever had. It has a dreadful PC application only second worst to Sonys sonic stage. The side connectors are difficult to open unless you have claw like nails, touch sensitive buttons are at times too touch sensitive and other times not touch sensitive enough. The phone locks the buttons during calls which makes switching between a call and a call waiting almost impossible. But is does look good!

EliSko
EliSko

In our experience MANY Samsung models have a lousy GUI, so much so that my wife and I will no longer even consider one, even though Orange here in Israel is happy to push them. Without a doubt we find the Nokia phones to be MUCH more user friendly.

Canuckster
Canuckster

There are 2 things that have bothered me in my experience. 1 - The bloatware/tracking software that you have to install in order to "correctly" use the device. I want an MP3 player and not someone else's marketing management tool. 2 - Conflicts with driver/resource/license already in place or required by the gadget. I upgraded my video card in the spring and after that my system would mysteriously just shutdown at random (and thankfully infrequent) times. Turns out it was a driver issue and it took the manufacturer several months to issue the patch for this.

jimfishes
jimfishes

Take a look at the black boxes in your home and/or on display at the electronic stores. The great majority have black cases/control panels with BLACK!!! buttons. It would seem the manufacturers are totally dedicated to: 1. Ruining my eyesight. 2. Making settings as difficult and time consuming as poss- ible. To my tired old eyes, this rates as Problem #1!!! jim

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