Monday, November 14, 2011

UPDATE: It's the Screen, Stupid!

I remember when the Palm IIIc came out, Palm was on top of the handheld organizer world.  You could not imagine a day when they would not be on the top of the PDA heap.  As they moved to color screens, they focused their engineering decision on cost and low-power, while HTC, who made the COMPAQ iPAQ chose the best screen possible for their color Windows CE PDA.  Hey, it was the focus on that criteria that put them to the top, but the world was changing beneath them.

When consumer came up to the glass case at their local COMPUSA or Circuit City (you remember them, don't you?) they would see this Palm device with a washed out screen next to the iPAQ with bright, clear colors and details.  Sold.  The iPAQ did well in the market.

I was bummed yesterday when I read the review for the new Motorola DROID RAZR.  The review focuses on the poor screen chosen for this slick, new Android smartphone.  I was thinking of buying one, and I guess I still might, but we still have not learned our lessons.  For some reason, engineers get caught up with buzzwords like AMOLED (LCD screens).  I've actually seen it on commercials for one company's big screen LCD HDTV sets.  Like my mom knows AMOLED from baking powder!  C'mon, we can do better than this, people!

Consumers don't give a rodent's posterior about acronyms.  In this case, they want bright screens, vibrant colors, and sharp details.  This is supposed to be the slickest, thinnest phone.  A revered phone brand revived to revitalize the return of Motorola.  Like that alliteration, huh?  Seriously, why do all the great things to make a great phone and mess up the most visible (and, hence, the most important) part of the experience of the phone: the screen?

Unfortunately, it takes a while to make a phone, so they can't scrape off the top and put it back in the oven.  Hopefully, there is a fix already in the pipeline.

UPDATE: I went to Best Buy for 1 hour on Friday to see both the DROID RAZR and the Kindle Fire, first hand.  The Kindle Fire seemed nice in some ways, maybe a bit jerky in scrolling.  The demo unit just played videos of the web browser and apps, which was strange.  The sales person brought us a unit we could really play with and it was okay.

The DROID RAZR's screen was better than the L.A. Times article noted, but was over-saturated and the whites were not white, so they were not far off with the review.  It was extremely thin, very fast, but also quite wide and tall.  I would love the thinness, with a smaller and better quality screen, for sure.

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