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View Full Version : Do We Want Gadgets With Character?

Reid Kistler
07-31-2010, 09:30 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://gizmodo.com/5597037/all-giz-wants-gadgets-with-character?skyline=true&s=i' target='_blank'>http://gizmodo.com/5597037/all-giz-...kyline=true&s=i</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"I feel like a castaway in a sea of glossy black plastic, chrome, and glowing blue buttons. Do we really need every piece of electronics to look the same, sandwiched in this shiny ebony that is the 21st Century beige? I go to buy a TV and my head spins out of boredom, making me sick. What... happened to industrial design? Most products have no character or soul. Some people argue that, to recover their character, we need to get electronics back into furniture."</em><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/wpt/auto/1280602978.usr19541.jpg" style="border: 0;" /></p><p>Jesus Diaz, at Gizmodo.com, has written an interesting column bemoaning the lack of "character" in the design of most modern electronic devices, particularly those in the low-to-moderate price range. His column is sprinkled with fascinating photographs and links to other sites, as well as speculation as to the possible causes behind what he clearly sees as a march toward boredom. The above photo shows an older Marantz receiver, (Model 2285B, circa 1979: One of these powered my main stereo system until early 2010.) resplendent it its Walnut Veneer Cabinet and "gold anodized" brushed-silver front panel - as contrasted with a current model Insignia receiver (<a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Insignia&trade;+-+200W+2.0+Channel+Stereo+Receiver/9693507.p?id=1218151628383&amp;skuId=9693507" target="_blank">NS-R2001</a>) from Best Buy, with the black face and digital display that seems to typify the author's complaints. In your opinion, do the exterior designs of today's electronics lack character? Should we return to silver face plates and wood (veneer) cabinets?</p>

Chris Gohlke
07-31-2010, 09:41 PM
I do miss the tactile qualities and simplicity of a nice dedicated switch for a function. Fake wood veneer, not so much.

Reid Kistler
08-01-2010, 01:35 AM
Actually, the Marantz was (is: still have it & am trying to decide whether worth cost to repair) old enough that it has Real Walnut Veneer - glued on pieces of wood, as opposed to glued on pieces of plastic - but still manages to look better..... :D

In this case, the cabinet was an option and can be completely removed: the front panel is even drilled for handles for rack-mounting! :rolleyes:

But do agree that Fake Wood usually looks like FAKE WOOD - so you might as well go with black, or white, or Whatever color tickles you fancy.

08-01-2010, 12:30 PM
All of my a/v stuff is safely tucked away in a cabinet in the basement so I really don't care what it looks like as long as it has the functionality I need.

I rather the mfrs focus on better remotes that allow you to control the equipment completely without ever touching the front panel. I have one of the new Pioneer receivers that's controlled via an iPhone app but it's not complete control. If I have full control, that's total nirvana. I don't even care if there's an on/off button...

Felix Torres
08-01-2010, 01:44 PM
...and therein lies the real issue: remotes.
Modern receivers are replacing the control panel with on-screen interfaces and remotes so there is no great need for actual switches, whereas vintage receivers *needed* the buttons and spinners to work at all.

That said, there should be some room for aesthetics in the mix; just because the functionality is driving in a different direction doesn't mean the design needs to be generic. I don't think wood panels would work these days when black on everything is everything :rolleyes:, but some sculpted panels and accents would hardly break the bank. A little personality, guys!

...Even if it means doing a shiny black slab of a front panel; maybe an "invisible" panel built off a backlit touch-screen--the things are becoming computers anyway. My brand-new Onkyo 708 now supports internet radio, USB mass storage, and PC-server streaming, all through a TV-based interface.

At this point either get rid of the control panel and use the external display for everything or replace the panel with a built-in display.