Friday, 29 January 2010

Can't help but mention it.

Apparently it's been on the news all over the place. It starts with a horrible name, and it just goes down-hill from there to make what can only be described as a horribly anti-human device. What was it again, the iMaxiPadTouch? Ho ho.

The name is bad, but then again, mums are buying wee's aren't they.

The hardware is pretty limited too. Ok so they have an interesting multi-core (arm?)-ish ARM processor, but the screen resolution isn't that high, the device isn't that light, and for the price the storage is pretty limited. But the real anti-customer feature is the lack of standard connectivity options. Sure you can get an ugly USB dongle, or an ugly SD-card dongle (but not at the same time). But why aren't they built in? What about HDMI? Could it be they don't want you to expand it on your own? Not even a camera? Props for the CPU and battery life, but the rest is a (big) fail mark. Even a PSP has more connectivity and expansion options built in!

And the software. It's a phone os. They might be ok on phones, but really, what sort of nonsense is it putting a phone os on what is really a general purpose computer? A locked down proprietary system that only allows you to get software from a closed network service. What year is this again, is this 1990 calling? The lack of multitasking is inexcusable - that's 1980 calling. Not having macromedia flash seems reasonable to understand (flash does suck) until you realise it's just another vector for controlling what media you can access, particularly, and specifically I suggest, locking out free media and those horrible free games (that people nonetheless love to play). This is the same reason Java is not supported. It's not about performance or security, it's about control.

Which brings me neatly to the media aspect. This is a device whose specific aims (if any can really be discerned) is to turn the free internet into a paid-for proprietary and locked-down service. It wants to turn everyone into a 'consumer' of corporate produced paid-for content channeled through their own toll-booth. I don't think a more anti-customer, anti-choice, anti-web '2.0', anti-progress and anti-freedom device has ever been created (a title that would make even Microsoft blush).

This is a very strange device. None of the benefits of a phone or media player (small size, camera) and none of the benefits of a laptop or even 'netbook' (open platform, expansion and connectivity options, real keyboard). It's too big to carry everywhere, and it's too useless to want to - it's really just a hand-held TV/set top box combo you can use to read the paper on the toilet (but isn't as useful if you run out of dunny paper), but there's no reason to take it further than your front gate. And apart from just being 'bad value' like most Apple Inc hardware, this device should be avoided like the plague if you have any respect for our cultural progress due to its draconian control of media content and software.

Compare this to something like the idea of the Touch Book (unfortunately the software in particular isn't quite there yet). Less memory, a bit slower - but lower price. 7(!) usb ports, 4 of which are internal to the machine, a machine you are expressly allowed to open. A replaceable SDHC card for OS and storage. Multiple operating system choices, far wider media support. A user replaceable battery. No digital restrictions management (DRM) telling you what you can do with your own data on your own machine. A half-decent keyboard, or simply use standard USB or blue-tooth keyboards. You can use it to write your own software. music, or create art, and learn about computers, not just consume paid-for content like some sort of slime-mould with no brain or creative spark of your own. The software side is still lacking, but that's only a matter of time before this or another device makes it.

Really the choice couldn't be more stark, and this is a perfect demonstration of why Free Software really matters. Do we want the future of our computers - and thus our society and culture which is now entirely dependent upon them - to be a shuttered, uncreative, paid for, controlled, and censored one, or an open, investigative and free one?

No amount of some balding, badly shaven, middle-aged poof in a black skivvy sitting on La-Z-Boy proclaiming how innovative the iTampon is makes it true. If he really believes that this is the most important product he's launched then you can add senile to that list too, or if he doesn't, then outright liar. The only innovation will be if they somehow convince a large number of people to buy such a nasty, anti-human device.

2 comments:

sinaisix said...

Well, well, well, you kind of summarized really well what the iMostlyuselessgizmo is.

But it really hurts so much because this device is going to be a hit? Let's not forget that Jobs is the man who made the world go crazy for an MP3 player.

Then again, I think your point about the real motive of this anti-progress device is 110% spot on. It is actually a way to turn humans into digital consuming dummies or cash cows for the corporate giants.

Otherwise, I see no sense or any form of innovation whatsoever in this slab of a device. Really cool points here especially about the senility of Jobs. Only I think he is more smarter than the average Joe and thus can sell to him a perfectly uses and expensive piece of brick.

NotZed said...

It isn't so much that it'll be a success and that hurts in itself, it is more the disappointment that people are so stupid they don't realise they're being taken for such a ride.

I'm not too sure it'll be such a roaring success anyway - pretty much everything you might use a tablet for, a laptop or small laptop, or palm-pilot sized device will do better.

1. has a keyboard
2. has a protective cover for the screen
3. has a hinge which allows you to set the screen at a comfortable angle however you're using it, without holding it
4. has a flat bottom so you can type on it comfortably

The tablet form factor has a long history of failure for a good reason. Unlike a palmpilot-sized device, it doesn't fit in your hand, and once you lose all the benefits of the small form factor all you end up with is a big lump of a device that is hard to hold and use at the same time. It's like an over-sized book, it look great on the shelf but if isn't something you want to crawl up in bed with.