It came yesterday. A Sony NW-S203F Sports Walkman. It’s pretty nifty, though I’m having a difficult time imagining how much time people must spend getting songs on and off these things.
The good: The player is designed for exercise. It can adjust the music being played to your running/walking pace (there’s a pedometer in it), it can keep track of calories burned, distance gone, etc., and it came with a nifty armband holder to keep it out of the way. All that’s grand.
The bad: The instructions suck. No surprise there, really. Companies would do well to hire, say, an English major or two just to look over their instructions. And it took me about an hour to get the thing to stop saying “Memory Error” and let me do something. There’s a click ring for sealing the USB port, and if it isn’t in the right position, the player be dead — not a word of this is in the instructions or online manual.
The huh?: I enjoy visiting Sean Michael Ragan’s website every now and then. He has an ongoing interest in minimalist, low-impact living, as well as a great many other things to do with design. Of interest to me at this moment is his listing of “design gaffes”: power window buttons on a car door that don’t “map” naturally to function, cell phones that play a jingle when you mute them (and folks wonder why I hate cell phones and only own a “for-emergencies” pay as you go model), DVD menus that are difficult to navigate, incoherent instructions, edible legos, and that sort of thing.
This player, I daresay, falls into the same category. It has this nifty armband thing to strap the player to your left upperarm during exercising. I know it’s meant for my left arm because all the pictures have it thus, and the headphones are clearly designed to push the wire lead toward the left shoulder (the extension to the right ear is longer than that going to the left). All well and good, except that if you do put it on your left arm it is upside down from your perspective. The readout, the buttons, the logo… everything is upside down, best readable from the position of someone looking at the exerciser, rather than the exerciser him or herself.
Most folks I know are not quite so vain as to employ someone to run alongside them with a full-length mirror, so I can’t imagine what the designers were thinking. Odds are, they simply weren’t.