Matt Gemmell

Low Expectations

1 min read489 words

PC industry, this is your problem:

However, as soon as you tilt this screen vertically off axis, the problems emerge. Not only do colors start to fade, but whites quickly become a urine-colored yellow. Yes, it’s disgusting any way you look at it or describe it. Those issues aside, the display and the resolution are more than adequate for an entry-level unit

and

However, we knew there would be sacrifices, and while the Series 7 might come close to closing the gap with the MacBook Pro on performance, it simply isn’t as well-built as Apple’s machine. And that can be seen most notably in the keyboard, touchpad, and the screen quality.

The keyboard, touchpad and screen are the computer, in terms of what you’re directly interacting with. So every part you’re going to interface with is notably substandard. Right.

You’d assume that the final rating would duly castigate the manufacturer, but it’s actually 7.8 (presumably out of ten), with this pull-quote:

Samsung has crafted one of the best Windows 7 laptops out there right now

You, the PC consumer, simply shouldn’t be putting up this sort of situation. Low expectations permeate the PC press, due to the type of products foisted upon the market for many years. Poorly-integrated plastic boxes (often poor copies of existing products), optimised for cheapness of manufacture and co-branding opportunities, resulting in horribly compromised products for the consumer.

There are certain companies out there who wouldn’t allow a product with even one of those flaws to ever make it to manufacturing. It’s a terrible indictment of the PC industry that even journalists often don’t expect anything better.

Addendum

Mark McFarlane on Twitter says:

While I agree PC manufacturers lack the engineering skills, this device is $500 (~30%) cheaper!

I don’t think PC manufacturers lack the engineering skills. I think that the design ethos and culture of these companies simply doesn’t encourage or reward striving for anything but a very temporary distinctiveness.

More fundamentally, I think that there’s a poison in the blood of the PC industry: the mistaken belief that lower cost can justify substandard products. For me, low cost is something you aim for once the product is right. Once it’s been designed well, and is something you can be proud of.

You have to push as hard as you can towards perfect, then begin to take whatever small steps back are necessary. Start with something great, then make it meet reality. If all you ever shoot for is “good enough”, when the world changes around you, you suddenly find that your best isn’t good enough anymore.