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Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum

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Bert22306
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
Bert22306   12/14/2011 9:53:14 PM
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First of all, who wrote this? Sylvie? Votre nom, s'il vous plait. This phenomenon may also be caused by the profilteration of frivolous "toys" on the market, a fairly well-off population, and the apparent imperative to give those who already have everything they need some gift for the holidays. I once did return a Christmas present, although unopened. It was an early PDA. I could just as easily have opened it, confirmed my total disinterest, and then returned it. I'm not surprised that there's often nothing wrong with the products. So what's the answer? Perhaps the manufacturers should first interview the intended recipient of the gift, before allowing the gift-giver to buy the product? Doesn't seem very practical.

sharps_eng
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
sharps_eng   12/14/2011 11:34:59 PM
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Charity shops are another recipient of well-intentioned gifts, these would be the owners that are too embarrassed to go beyond Tom Lehrer's famous quip, 'Uhh..just the thing I need, how nice!'. As I recall that was for a 'matching pen-and-pencil' .. uhh, go look the song up yourselves. 'Christmas time is here by golly...'

old account Frank Eory
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
old account Frank Eory   12/15/2011 8:58:58 PM
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I think this quote is spot on: "consumers were either misinformed or they found it too hard to install"...or too hard to use. Consider something as basic as the consumer who decides he wants a fancy new TV. He knows he wants to watch cable or satellite TV, and his DVD player or maybe he also bought a nice new Blu-ray player, and he also thinks it would be great if he could watch YouTube. And he definitely wants good sound. He comes home with a new TV, and a bunch of cables that the salesman told him he will need. The TV has a multitude of I/O connectors -- HDMI, DVI and/or VGA, component video, composite video, optical audio and analog stereo audio. It even still has an antenna input like his old TV, and now has an ethernet jack as well. Does the end user have an A/V receiver, or did he also just buy a sound bar to go with that new TV? How about that cable or satellite STB? And the DVD or Blu-ray player? What about HD sources vs. non-HD sources? Which components in his system support optical digital audio? How about his home network? What is he supposed to connect to that ethernet jack on the back of the TV so he can watch YouTube? Strange as it may seem to we engineers, I can imagine a non tech-saavy consumer getting overwhelmed and thinking either (a) I need to spend a lot more money that I wasn't planning to spend -- more cables, more equipment, and maybe even a professional installer, or (b) if it's this complicated just to hook everything up, imagine what it's going to be like trying to use the remote and figuring out how to watch cable TV! Or God forbid, how to watch YouTube? Such a consumer might decide, quite simply, that this TV and his original plan was just too much -- too much time, effort, and money, and ultimately too complicated to use. And so the TV and all that other stuff goes back in the original packaging and back to the retailer, even though absolutely nothing was wrong with any of it.

junko.yoshida
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
junko.yoshida   12/16/2011 11:04:21 AM
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Exactly, Frank. The example you gave us above a good one. Unless you are an EE, or really patient, and more importantly, you are really driven to install this fantastic home entertainment system at home, you probably don’t want to waste your time sorting all these things out. Simply put, it’s a nightmarish gift for most people. I am not quite sure how CE vendors can help sort out such a conundrum. Set up that requires simple, intuitive, easy steps. What do we think we need here?

agk
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
agk   12/16/2011 12:09:53 PM
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Recently a dish tv was added to a television set in my mothers house.Already this TV is connectted to a DVD through AV connction and a cable connection through its RF input.The inputs are full. So i bought a switch unit to switch the av connction between dvd and dish. The switch was not functioning properly. I returned the same and bought another make and the system started working.But the difficulty was in teaching my mother how to switch between remotes and the switch box.This needs lot of patience.And for few more days till she become practiseed with it, i was requied to give support. This is a simple job when compared with the gadgets now avilable. Sure with so many gadget gifts you will have lot of fun and pleasure.

KB3001
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
KB3001   12/16/2011 2:20:25 PM
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I seldom read manuals when I buy/get a new gadget! I find it exhilarating to get something to work without reading the manual :-) and most of the time, it does!

KB3001
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
KB3001   12/16/2011 2:24:39 PM
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Many companies here in the UK offer a home installation service. I see it as a business opportunity!

KB3001
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CEO
re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
KB3001   12/16/2011 2:28:01 PM
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Offer videos showing the installation process step by step over the internet, perhaps? In the future, augmented reality will surely allow us to take consumers through the process seamlessly.

Duane Benson
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re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
Duane Benson   12/16/2011 6:15:45 PM
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I recently purchase a USB video capture device so that I can turn all of my old family VHS tapes into digital files. As instructed, I installed the software, then plugged it in. Everything seemed to work except that I couldn't get the audio to work. It took a bit of googling, but I found that certain USB audio devices don't work in Windows 7. They're supposed to use the built-in USB audio driver, but it just doesn't see them. I installed VMware and the XP disk that I had from before the upgrade. The sound worked, but even on my six core 12GB machine, VMware / XP couldn't keep up and dropped too many frames. I ended up building an XP box out of leftover parts and that works fine. I set up a WiFi printer/scanner/fax not long before that and went through a similar set of exasperating adventures to get the thing running. I've been doing this stuff for decades and have trouble with way too much of it. I have no idea how non-tech savvy folks get much of this to work or work fully. I'd guess that a lot of the no-problem-found units are like the video capture; working fine, but not compatible with my system or like the printer; poorly laid out controls and very non-intuative setup and operation. The third case is quite often an obscure problem that the repair technicians can't identify or don't look for. I had a noise problem in and original equipment car stereo once. My guess was that it was a grounding issue with the speakers: noise at low volume that didn't change in volume as the radio got louder. Three trips to the dealer all resulted in no-problem-found diagnoses. A couple of months after the last visit, I received a recall notice from the manufacturer about a grounding problem with the speakers.

Bert22306
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CEO
re: Chronic Christmas gadget conundrum
Bert22306   12/16/2011 8:45:42 PM
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Yunko: "The example you gave us above a good one. Unless you are an EE, or really patient, and more importantly, you are really driven to install this fantastic home entertainment system at home, you probably don’t want to waste your time sorting all these things out. Simply put, it’s a nightmarish gift for most people. "I am not quite sure how CE vendors can help sort out such a conundrum." The problem with (supposedly) overcomplicated CE equipment interconnections is that these interfaces have been accumulating, bit by bit, over many decades. And worse, some of the systems involved, like satellite and cable, intentionally resist efforts to have their receiver functions built into the TV displays. The excuse they give is that allowing CE vendoirs to build in their functions would make future upgrades more difficult. There might be some truth to that. But I think the main reason they resist is, they prefer to have subscribers give them that monthly revenue to rent out what should be unnecessary outboard boxes. But there is a way out. Something like USB. Check out the NAD Electronics product line, for example. They offer a phono preamp (i.e. that little amp with RIAA equalization, that is used between an old tech record player cartridge and, usually, any "line level" input to your audio system), but this one has a USB output. Not line level analog. Now, imagine if ALL your audio and video boxes could be simply connected to USB ports, either individually or daisy chained. No need for the assortment of different cables for each function. I tend to be more of a straight stick guy, so I usually opt for the technically simplest interfaces. However there's no reason why these interfaces can't be hugely simplified. The vendors have to agree that it's a good idea, and get on with it.

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