this space intentionally left blank

December 17, 2009

Filed under: tech»i_slash_o

Chill Touch

It's officially too cold for words in DC this morning, which means that as of yesterday anything I own with a touchscreen just became utterly useless. Consider this a triumph of frostbite over functionality, brought to you by product designers who live in eternally balmy climates instead of the real world.

At least the Android Dev Phone is usable, if clumsy, thanks to the trackball. People scoffed at the trackball, the menu button, and the chin they rode in on, but those people have to take their gloves off to check their e-mail. Which is not to say that it's any fun using the trackball through a pair of gloves (it's way too small), but it's possible. Gloved typing on the physical keyboard also works surprisingly well. And by surprisingly well, I mean "badly."

The Zune HD, on the other hand, is basically just taunting me. See, it's got a button on the side, the express purpose of which is to directly trigger a screen overlay for controlling playback and volume. I guess it would have been too much to ask for actual buttons to control those things, particularly the commonly-used song skip functions. Of course, these days, even players with physical controls probably run them on capacitive technology anyway, so you still can't use them. I'm pretty sure that's just spiteful.

And then there's the Kindle, which doesn't use a touchscreen at all. Great! Someone gets it! I can read with gloves on, just like an actual book! Here's what they don't tell you about the Kindle, or any e-ink reader: cold temperatures slow the already-slow refresh rate. It goes from being subliminal to seriously annoying as the temperature gets down below freezing. What's that? Paper? What am I, a neanderthal?

At this point, my options are to either go Amish, or move to a place with a milder winter and a functioning public transit system. Frankly, it's a tough call.

Future - Present - Past