: Bad Industrial Design - Things that can really irk.

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2007-02-03, 01:10 PM
Thought I'd start a list of items that can really irk after you've bought some equipment and you thought "everything" would work in a certain manner, but the item you bought doesn't.

For Example:

1. Some TVs allow you to "skip" inputs, or go directly to an input. Some TVs, however, have 7-8 inputs and you have to press the "source/input" button many times to get back to one of the items you've connected to the TV.

2. In the "Picture" menu on Panasonic Plasmas, the first item you come to is a "yes/no" setting, which is the default setting for a picture mode. If you've just done some calibration on the TV and changed the settings, but then hit this (the first item) by mistake, your calibration settings are all lost since the mode reverts to factory settings. I always write down settings, but this is a poor design.

Let's hear your poor design stories:

2007-02-03, 01:22 PM
Excellent thread 57.

Two that come to mind are first, the remote that comes with the Motorola HD boxes. The exit and last buttons get used a lot and are TOO far apart (bad design)

The next one might be a bit off topic. How about all the new LCD screens that advertise the non reflection compared to plasmas. Then the manufacturers put on a nice shinny black frame that reflects every bit of light a person has in the room!

2007-02-03, 02:02 PM
How about the buttons on the motorola HD PVR remote that take you to VOD when you don't want to? If you hit one of these by accident you can't just exit out. You have to wait until it connects to VOD, or tries to, and then exit from there. Very frustrating for those of us with fat fingers!

2007-02-03, 02:07 PM
The lack of discrete On/Off codes and input select codes are my pet peeves.

2007-02-03, 02:13 PM
The closed captioning on the Motorola boxes.
Having to turn off the box to turn CC on or off is the stupidest design flaw, as you miss part of your show and can not do it during a recording.
In a perfect world it would be in the menus and it would turn off by it self every time you go into guide mode and come back when your watching TV again.

2007-02-03, 02:42 PM
In the "Picture" menu on Panasonic Plasmas, the first item you come to is a "yes/no" setting, which is the default setting for a picture mode. If you've just done some calibration on the TV and changed the settings, but then hit this (the first item) by mistake, your calibration settings are all lost since the mode reverts to factory settings. Oh boy, just one more item for my list on gotchas regarding HD TV's. The more I read of other's problems or complaints, regardless of the make, the less enamoured I become of HD. Beginning to think that HD is not ready for prime time. The recent NFL fiasco with the fingers pointing at Global; burn-in of logos (or not): 5.1 sound (or not); out-of-sync pix and sound and on it goes. Am I a luddite? Can I mention the Harmony 880 remote and the stupid placement of the channel numbers 0 to 9 so low down on the remote? The roly poly bottom is not made to sit on a soft armchair arm. Oh, yeah, there it is between the cushion and the arm. sailmaker :(

2007-02-03, 02:53 PM
The pause on-screen graphics on a BEV 9200 PVR are huge, but there is no ability to clear them from the screen while you go make some popcorn or fix up a beverage. I at least try to find a black or gray screen in the recording (moment between commercials, etc.) to pause on if at all possible.

Using the 9200's screen saver is an option but it takes awhile to load up anyways, so until that comes up you have the big pause graphics up on the screen.

There is a trick to temporarily clearing the screen (while paused, press the FF or FRew once to move one frame forward or back) but within a few seconds a graphic shows up anyways.

2007-02-03, 04:26 PM
Why can't the manufacturers of TV's requring lamps agree on one or two types of lamps for DLP / rear projection TV's? Then the costs would be lower to replace them. It seems every model by a manufacturer requires some exotic lamp that won't work in another TV. Of course, the bulb will still likely go when the store is closed.

2007-02-03, 04:35 PM
Discreet on and off codes for EVERYTHING. Extremely easy to implement, but it seems like only the higher-end brands do so. Sigh.

2007-02-03, 04:59 PM
In order to have discrete on/off codes work, all (universal/programmable) remotes would also need to have those programmed. At this time, most remotes do not have this capability, so there would be a significant disconnect.

This is precisely why my flagship Yamaha AVR cannot be turned on and off by my SA8300HD remote (only on OR off), while my inexpensive Yamaha stereo receiver is "compatible".

2007-02-03, 05:05 PM
I see, I must have missed the part of the first post where you said that it shouldn't cause universal disconnect. ;)

At this stage of the game, it should be extremely easy to enable. Just add an on, off, _and_ toggle code. There's no reason to do this other than laziness on the part of the equipment manufacturers.

2007-02-03, 06:16 PM
Why can't the manufacturers of TV's requring lamps agree on one or two types of lamps for DLP / rear projection TV's?That is not Bad Industrial Design as in the context of this thread, in which the manufacturers' focus groups and usability studies might have missed something that causes direct operational problems to consumers. Those companies have a multitude of reasons why certain parts are used, and the end result to the consumer might be irritating, but its not a flaw in their design.

2007-02-03, 06:32 PM
Cell phones
The worst design for a commonplace device that I've ever seen.
As you hold the device in your palm, the buttons should have been on the top half and the display screen on the lower half.
That style would have allowed us to hold the phones securely in our palm as we dialed with our thumb.
Desisgn dunces worldwide put the keypad on the bottom which forced us to thumb dial with the device held precariously in our fingers. Dropped phones and misdialed numbers resulted until users adapted.

Some new cell phone designs must have improved ergonomics. Yes? .. No?

Edit. Whoops! Were we talking about HDTVs? Sorry.

2007-02-03, 06:40 PM
Consumer electronics devices often are designed along paradigms of form and style that don't necessarily have function as the highest priority. Devices follow certain design principles because consumers identify closely with such quasi-standards. Only a very few paradigm-breakers ever capture the consumer's imagination and blessing (think Apple). I agree, mobile phones are a good example of bad paradigms becoming commonplace. I don't think of it as bad industrial design so much as intentional effort to stay with the dominant paradigm.

A perfect example of how bad industrial design and paradigm-breaking differ was the first Nokia N-Gage game phone, which really got some important usability things wrong (bad industrial design decisions) but also tried with great criticism to shift the handset layout paradigm (attempt at paradigm-breaking, not bad industrial design).

2007-02-03, 09:13 PM

After you press Skip Forward, a right arrow will appear on screen for a few seconds then disappear for a few seconds before returning permanently. If you press Cancel while ithe arrow's off screen it won't come back and your paused screen will be clutter free (the title banner appears for a few seconds after you press Cancel, but it too then disappears permanently).

2007-02-04, 04:07 AM
Thanks VuMax, I'll give that a try. Nice to know there's a workaround. Maybe I can get my Harmony remote to do all those steps in one command.

2007-02-04, 11:18 PM
I've got a new Hyundai 42" plasma and I realize it's pretty much bottom of the barrel (but a real nice picture). The remote control has no less than 9 buttons on it which are completely non-functional (and listed as such in the manual) and 3 more buttons that are supposed to perform some kind of unknown function (manual explanation is beyond recognition) but don't actually do anything either. How's that for an unimpressive design?

2007-02-06, 09:18 PM
My pet peeve are glossy TV bezels. Some artsy fartsy guy thought it would be a neat idea to put shinny reflective borders around the TV and now almost everyone is following suite.

Sure it looks cool in the store, but everything reflects off of it and it's distracting! There's a reason TV's have normally had none reflective surfaces for decades! Don't fix it if it ain't broke!

2007-02-06, 11:09 PM
My truck that only holds 90% of a jug of windshield washer liquid. Even when the thing was bone dry it still wouldn't take an entire container. I always have a partial jug rattling around in the back.

2007-02-11, 05:34 PM
Do receivers with HDMI inputs that don't process any audio from HDMI qualify?

I also have a gripe with any piece of equipment that doesn't have an "Instant Pizza" button. I need pizza at the touch of a button 24/7!