ipad leapfrogs all

So lucky for me that Nook had production delivery problems. That just saved me $500. Now I’ll just wait for the ipad to come out.

On that note of products being late…that’s just a killer when it comes to generating sales and making business numbers. Designers should know this, but often don’t really assimilate the impact of being late and its consequences on the business.  What does that mean to the design process?

nook leapfrogs kindle

Ok, i want one of these…there was something about the kindle, that made me wonder if I should plunk down $300, uh ok, $250 (since the intro of nook).  I was unsure when I wrote about this a while back and am now certain, that i won’t buy a kindle.

nook

For now, until i can go to Barnes and Noble to buy one, my thoughts based on what i’ve read on the web and what i can see in pics:

Look: winner Nook – ok the Nook is nice and clean, not a stunning design, the Kindle 2…pretty darn bland, i can see the braun/rams/bauhaus inspiration, but, still just too plain. And the original Kindle, well honestly, that thing was pretty ugly, I mean, look at that keyboard.

Kindle-orig

Technology: winner Nook – dual screens, gotta love it
UI: winner Nook – jury out, but the potential of, the dual screens!
Experience – Nook – bring it to a Barnes and Noble and read stuff for free. Phyigital Reality, making digital things act like real life things
Cool Factor: Nook

kindle-2

iriver doing nice work

iriver2

Some might say they are riffing off Apple and some might say the design is so simple, its boring.  It also has a bit of mid 80’s Japanese electronics feel, think Sony back then.  I just played with the Spinn for a bit.  It’s definitely a nice product.  OLED display is awesome and the build quality is solid.

iriver1

The Visual Media is really nice as well, simple swiss grid like feel.  They are also talking about a new home screen they are calling “magazine” style on some of their other big screen products.  I think its a really fresh take on media design.  It goes beyond the Apple jelly style buttons, or any buttons for that matter, you just interact with the media itself.  But their website, ugh, in this case, Flash doesnt have anything to do with how fast you can view all of their products.  The site is really painful to navigate as well. That said, the UI on the Spinn was a little strange combining touch and physical control in a way that wasn’t naturally intuitive.

sony_walkman_1

You gotta love the original walkman, it changed the game in personal electronics. 1979…wow.

Challenger challenge

challenger_ces_og

From a previous post, I bashed the new Dodge Challenger Life After Steroids. Well I actually got to see both the original and new Challenger at CES and now can give you an in person assessment. I still like the original.  The new is nice, but doesnt have the flair of the original.

challenger_ces2

What do you think?

Which version of the Dodge Challenger do you like the best?

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The successful Kindle

Below is my reply to Bruce Nussbaum’s Design blog about the Kindle titled “Amazon’s Kindle Is A Success–Hooray For Designer Bob Brunner.” I’ve modified my post below a bit so it makes sense without reading Bruce’s post and the readers comments.

Does good design make a product “successful”? Does bad design kill the chances of success? From the replies above, we have a UI and Experience professional saying the ergonomics of the Kindle are bad. Walt Mossberg also confirms this in his review. We’ve also got someone pointing out that “ecosystem” is what is making this successful. And finally, the host of this column (Bruce) says its Oprah and Bob’s great design work, which once again, some folks aren’t happy with. And now we can go back to the start and continue to debate the Kindle’s success. But let’s not.

What also makes this interesting is that we’ve got some very qualified folks speaking to the pros and cons of this device. Of course, they probably haven’t debated in person on this topic, but all present a different POV on the product’s success. So what is the missing component here in this dialog of design? According to Amazon’s figures, its the 240,000 consumers who have bought this thing. What I wonder is, how many of these consumers are “design saavy or qualified” like the blogger and the responders here? And, as Rob (a responder) points out, I’ll bet that those 240,000 people trust Oprah more than any of us qualified “designers”.

I’m a product designer as well, I know Andy and Bob and they both do great work. On a similar, yet off path…What I’ve always wondered about is the Designer/Consumer taste barometer, that is when the consumer wants something that most designers don’t. Like fake wood grain for instance, the designers fight it, “oh my god, there is no way I’ll put fake wood grain on a product”. Yet, somehow, with all those designers fighting it, that fake wood still gets out in the market!

I guess the other question is, is a commercially successful product, always well designed? Seems like, not.



ID Annual – B+W Zepplin

Ok, my take on this is I like the speaker itself, the detailing looks nice, I’ll take Johns word for the build quality being great, but I don’t like this pairing with the ipod. I typically don’t prescribe thinking that calls for matchy matchy, meaning “if the ipod is square, lets make the speaker system square”. (Apple did for their own speaker system) In this case, the two elements are so strong and pure individually, I believe they don’t really mix well together.

ID Annual – Belkin TuneStudio

What i like best about this is that the designers didn’t try to “celebrate” the ipod. What do I mean by that? They kept it low profile within the unit. Most devices will have your ipod waving like a flag shouting, “hey look at me, I’m an ipod stuck into this box!” For this kind of consumer, dj’s and musicians, its a great way to break both your $300 ipod and $300 mixer.

Here’s my dilemma about this product and its more about positioning and target consumers than design, which I think is right on. Here’s what the Belkin site says. “Whether you are a novice podcaster or an experienced musician, TuneStudio integrates the iPod with a full-featured, four-channel mixer, making it easy for you to create high-quality recordings.” This thing sells for $399 from Belkin. I just paid the same for this recorder from Olympus.

I’m a musician and definitely find the Belkin product really cool, BUT, I already have a mixing board, and nowadays, they come with lots of options to get your files to a PC. I bought the Olympus for recording rehearsals because of it’s ultra portability…built in mics, records straight to mp3, great battery life. The Belkin is small enough to be portable, but then I’m not sure if its the best portable option available. And its really not that portable, because it doesn’t run on batteries and you still need to bring mics. This won’t replace my mixing boards either as it doesnt have enough inputs to handle what I need. Maybe even more important, if this is a recorder…most on the fly recording boards either plug into a PC and syncs with associated software to control levels of each channel on screen. I’m not sure if this can do that…Belkin, why don’t you send me one to play with!

I do know of local radio DJ that mentioned to me that he would like a two track system to do simple voice overs onto a music tracks, but ultimately, he just wants software so he can control the fade and mix. I do like the design, but at $399, I’m not sure what audience will snap this up, maybe the podcaster more so than the experienced musician.

ID Annual – Nokia Pocketable Speakers

These are small (122 x 32 x 33.5mm) about the length of a candy bar style phone and about 2-3 times as thick (depending on which phone you’re comparing it to). Here’s what I wonder, in the ID magazine shot, the red detail looks very shiny, in the shot from Nokia above, the red accents have matte finish, are more saturated and darker in value. Personally, I like the matte finish, seems more sophisticated and if they are the functional rubber component of the driver, then it really makes sense. The glossy finish from the ID shot makes it look like a toy.

Things this small demand exquisite attention to detail and flawless execution.

The retractable cord is a very nice feature, nice detail.

ID Annual – Belkin Cable Dome


Belkin has been producing some really nice products lately. This one is probably not one of my favorites and makes me wonder what else was entered in the category. I’m sure it works well, but for example, to make this product work WITHOUT screws or “heavy” double stick would have been a real trick and worth the Distinction award.

Their Power series is nice as well a lots of other products they produce.

ID Annual – Y Water – Fuseproject

The website is more fun than the bottles! You really need to check it out here. The flavor story is really smart as it implies feeding the basic building blocks of the body and the bottles in turn respond by allowing kids to create fun molecular structures.

This won a Design Distinction award. I’m not sure if this was presented as a whole with web communications or not, but this to me could have been best of category. Maybe they just judged just the bottle itself, but the entire story here makes for a great “consumer product”.

PS. Y Water claims to be Organic, but funny that you can’t easily find the ingredients of Y Water on the website. If it’s there, its not that easy to find. Some post a link if you can find it.

Another fuseproject product, that wasn’t as impressive, yet an award winner.

ID Annual – Smith Brim Helmet – Jackalope

This is a nice tweener positioned product statement right between the standard bike helmet aesthetic (zoomy fast) and the “I’m a rebel” military like snowboard helmets. The cool graphic lines seem to be missing on the production version. Oh well.

Would I wear it? Probably not as i don’t like fixed ear covers. I wanna have the flexibility of having ear protection or not.

—-more thoughts.

Something bugged me about this design…it looks like the designers made an attempt to make plastic “feel” more like something soft…maybe it was the fake printed stitching or the mini bill (both which i thought were cool). Or maybe it was seeing the NYC Helmet towards the end of the review. Oh well, I still feel like its successful.

the 54th ID Design Annual is out!

The 54th Annual Design Review is out and I thought it might be interesting to do 1 minute crits of some of the products. Why 1 minute? Well that’s about all the time I have to spend on each crit and based on the fact that your average consumer spends about 2.3 seconds (Eyetrack III) on an image in the web, I thought it would be interesting to present the knee-jerk reaction/review of the winners.