Archive for the ‘Consumer Electronics’ Category

Motorola & (Product) Red

Monday, 8 January 2007; 8:52

Chris Rock. Sheryl Crow. Charlie Sheen. Molly Sims. Kayne West. Chris Kattan. That’s quite the expensive line-up of spokespersons. However, The Distillery is guessing these individuals participating in Motorola’s (Product) Red campaign either donated their time or charged exceptionally little for it. (Could Bono have been involved in the negotiations?) 

Each of the above individuals, including Bono, are participating in a global campaign, with sponsorship by Motorola, to increase awareness and funding for HIV and AIDS–especially in Africa where the daily deaths of thousands of parents are leaving thousands and thousands of orphan children. And quite frankly, The Distillery is impressed. Motorola seems to have gone the extra mile to provide an entire line of red products to call attention to the HIV/AIDS problem.

Even more, the firm has “borrowed” the YouTube model to present each celebrity’s statement with a “videowall.” Beyond that, it appears there is even space reserved for you. You are encouraged to create your own video and upload it, possibly for inclusion with additional videos by other consumers, Nelson Mandela, Amerie, and 50 Cent. Nice job, Motorola. It is really nice to see capitalism and corporations need not exclude a large measure of compassion.

Home page: Motorola & (Product) Red
Videowall:  JoinRed.com

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Memorex

Wednesday, 27 December 2006; 16:35

Is it real or is it Memorex? That was the ultimate music recording question asked by consumers approximately 25 years ago. It is still a well-known line from a memorable series of commercials–and is still in use by Memorex today. That, my friends, is called staying power.

But what about new technologies? That tag line was originally used in the days of magnetic cassette tapes–and when the original was easily distinguished from the copy. What about HDTVs, CDs, and lasers? It appears Memorex finds the line still useful and applicable as it introduces its HD-DVD and Blu-ray video technologies to a newer generation.

Yes, it is a boring presentation, isn’t it? And remember, Blu-ray is in a struggle for its life against at least one competing format. It is another VHS vs. Betamax struggle where the best technology may not win again. Betamax was beat by better marketing and not a superior technology. It appears Memorex and Blu-ray are doomed to repeat history with an online presentation surely to be viewed by very few, which inspires absolutely zero passion about the technology, and ultimately about which consumers could likely care no less.

Home page:  Memorex
Video:  Imation: Into The Blue

 

MOTORAZR V3i DOLCE & GABBANA

Thursday, 14 December 2006; 14:27

An intriguing and enigmatic opening with a nice musical soundtrack. A second page with a different, but still nice soundtrack–and, the MOTOROLA V3i DOLCE & GABBANA. (Jeesh, that’s a mouthful for a cell phone’s name.) A moan or two. (They are not easy to find, but Motorola did not forget that sex sells.) “Did anyone ever tell you your megapixels are enormous?” “Image is everything.” “Buy now.” “Share.” There are countless aspects of superb online marketing in the design of this web site.

Oops, The Distillery is so impressed with the web site that it almost forgot about the product itself, the cell phone. This appears to be one really nice cell phone–made for those few people with more money than people to whom they need to talk. As the catchline says, “Image is everything.” In fact, the image is so everything with this phone that The Distillery has never even seen one except online!

Home page: MOTOROLA V3i DOLCE & GABBANA

 

Pinger

Monday, 11 December 2006; 14:15

Something weird seems to be happening. And, it is YouTube-related. (Isn’t everything these days?) What is it? It appears some firms have decided that the best and cheapest advertising, viral or otherwise, begins [and ends] with YouTube.

Pinger is an excellent example. Via YouTube, the founders of Pinger.com offer this video introduction to their new business model. (Look to the lower-left portion of your screen. Then click “video” under “Learn More.”) How does The Distillery feel about using YouTube as a primary advertising medium? We are not certain. It seems both right and wrong. Let’s explore that assessment a little more.

YouTube is an excellent fit with what is suspected to be Pinger’s primary target market–younger-aged text messengers. On the other hand, and keeping recent survey findings in mind, using YouTube will not be the best vehicle for what is assumed to be another Pinger target market–older adults more accustomed to voice and phone, but have not yet adopted text messaging. (Note: Pinger combines voice with text messaging and your cell phone. It supposedly offers the best of both worlds.)

Is YouTube Pinger’s only advertising medium, other than any viral or word-of-mouth from the YouTube video? The Distillery would appreciate if its readers let it know where else Pinger ads have been found. Yes, there are the press releases and very likely some public relations work, but will they be sufficient?

 We also see Pinger aligning itself with MySpace.com–again emphasizing a younger target market. Does that mean Pinger is eschewing older users who might actually find this form of “text messaging” not only fun, but useful? Only time will tell if a YouTube-focused advertising campaign is sufficient. But until then, you might give Pinger a trial–regardless of your age.

 Home page:  Pinger

Pinger logo

Pantech & RAIN

Thursday, 19 October 2006; 12:16

Okay, so I’m actually looking for a new cell phone after having the present one for five years. One brand I saw compatible with my carrier was Pantech, which is new to me. So, what about its online advertising? I decided that would determine if Pantech would be among my evoked set at purchase time. So, in search of a cell phone . . .

The Distillery instead found RAIN’s first Chinese M/V with Pantech. Also found is one soulful Japanese crooner and a superb dancer. I’ve read mixed reviews about Pantech’s phones, but this promotional music video is absolutely superb. And, how often do you get to select either simplified or traditional Chinese as your subtitles? (Anyone having luck getting into the Chinese version of the site? Although the video is perfectly clean and wholesome, maybe it’s still being “sanitized” by the Chinese government.)

Folks, this one really works. I’m almost ready to diss all the mixed reviews for Pantech cell phones simply because I’m listening to a well-chosen and very pleasant soundtrack right now. Michael Jackson, you may have brought us the moonwalk, but The Distillery is forecasting RAIN. (And yes, that logo below is just the way it was found. Anyone else notice an “E” missing?)

By the way, those interested might also wish to have a gander at the Pantech’s Russian “Your Phone is Too Fat” microsite. Isn’t it becoming a wonderfully small world?

Home page:  Pantech
Home page:  Pantech and RAIN M/V Promotion Site

RAIN

SanDisk Sansa e280 MP3 Player

Thursday, 31 August 2006; 9:08

SanDisk first really caught my attention a few weeks ago after I bought one of its very well-designed U3 flash drives. In one of those all too rare times, SanDisk got the obvious right. They eliminated that little cap which frequently gets lost and supposedly attaches to your keyring. Instead, the USB connector simply slides back into its own case. Egad, Brain! Brilliant!

However, today The Distillery brings you the SanDisk Sansa e280 MP3 player. And quite frankly, never being one to jump on bandwagons, I very much prefer it to any iPod I’ve seen. And then there’s that something about buying music from only one seller who allows that music to be played on only one player — theirs.

However, with the recent cracking of Microsoft’s DRM anti-copying protocol, you may well be able to remove that protection and play your music in any player or computer you wish. Just download FairUse4WM 1.1 at Betanews.com and use it on your collection before Microsoft can get back to being Big Brother.

Home page: SanDisk

SanDisk e200 series MP3 player graphic SanDisk logo graphic

Eveready (Energizer.com)

Wednesday, 23 August 2006; 14:45

First, the bunny has been found in its proper place at Energizer.com. It must be an evil albino twin which has gone over to the dark side at Duracell. Also found is a firm clearly more aware of its markets and potential customers, and the internet.

One of the first things noticed are contests which are easy to enter. There’s no chasing an animated gif. In fact, the user is given complete navigation control. With only that, Eveready is obviously less clueless than one of its major competitors. In fact, this single page at Energizer.com reflects almost all that is missing at one of its competitor’s sites. (Note: We’re not mentioning any names.)

In addition, one will find a learning center with advice for emergencies, projects for kids, and [silent] demonstrations of how batteries are made and work. But best of all, we find multimedia content. Granted, it appears to be rehashed TV ads, but we’ve always enjoyed those Energizer Bunny ads, haven’t we? And, The Distillery will give a few points for the Hispanic-targeted ads. (Note: The “Runner” ad can also easily service the locale it presents. In less developed countries without widespread and modern utility infrastructures, batteries are the primary source of power.)

However, this is the internet and 30 seconds cannot be more than .03 nanoseconds in internet time. Where is the 2-5 minute engaging online promotion? Is this it? Or is it this pitch for a flashlight? No, each of those is only 1.5 minutes long and pretty much all else to be found. Close, but no cigar. So although Eveready’s online presence is better than at least one of its competitors, it appears the battery industry isn’t that charged-up about the internet just yet.

Home page: Energizer.com

Daylight Savings Time reminder graphicEnergizer bunny graphic

Duracell

Wednesday, 23 August 2006; 13:17

Okay, so batteries are inherently boring and don’t exactly set the world on fire. (Oops, I forgot about Dell’s laptop batteries.) The Distillery is very disappointed with the Duracell battery site. It is apparently unwired, except for boring Superman Returns trailers which can be found everywhere now and Duracell’s Grand Prix High Performance Racing. (When did Duracell hire the EverReady Energizer Bunny as its Grand Prix driver?) The game is not the best game discovered by The Distillery, but it kills time. You will have to register to play. (Just give anything; there’s no confirmation.)

Also, you might register for a $25,000 USD grand prize in the Duracell “Picture It!” promotion — if you can catch the animated graphic at the right moment. Now that’s a novel (a.k.a. stupid) design idea. Make the entry form a moving target and thereby the contest hard to enter. If you’re lucky, you may not even have a winner to whom the money can be awarded. Instead, you can keep it!

The Distillery cannot help but think that Duracell is completely missing the boat on this one. What target market(s) and/or demographic(s) both use the internet extensively and also have/use pocketfuls of battery-powered gadgets and gizmos? Duh! (The Distillery will let them figure the rest out now that they have a clue.) Okay, another hint: Who is buying iPods and digital video recorders and cameras? With that now being made obvious, there’s a marketing manager somewhere within Duracell who needs to be fired and replaced.

Home page: Duracell
Home page: Duracell Grand Prix High Performance Racing

Duracell battery logo graphic Duracell battery pack graphic

NEC Personal Robot Research Center (Japan)

Tuesday, 22 August 2006; 12:10

Apparently hidden away in the same underground chamber Japanese physicists and others from around the world have been using to detect very rare elemental physics particles is the NEC Personal Robot Research Center. There we find the R100, NEC’s first personal robot.

It’s only a prototype, but it still has big ambitions. It one day hopes to live with you at home as a useful and lovable partner. Let’s just hope its programming includes Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. (You don’t know what they are? Then hold off on buying any robot. You would not want a robot without them.) In fact, NEC itself still knows very little about the robot’s future, as evidenced by a FAQ with FA (few answers). The robot’s color scheme has also not yet been determined, but it seems NEC is open to consumers’ suggestions.

Those issues aside, let’s have a peek at NEC’s proposed additions to a Jetsons family lifestyle. The first video explains NEC’s aims and hopes in developing the personal robot. The second video summarizes what the R100 can do.

Home page: NEC Personal Robot Research Center
Home page: NEC Laboratories

NEC Personal Robot graphic 01 NEC Personal Robot graphic 02 NEC Labs Personal Robot logo graphic

NEC Labs notebook graphic 01NEC Labs notebook graphic 02

NEC Labs logo graphic

NEC Electronics

Tuesday, 22 August 2006; 10:55

For whatever reasons, The Distillery expected to find plenty of rich media content at NEC. Maybe it was a function of the first VCR I purchased back in 1980, made by NEC, for something like $1100.00 US. The Distillery was wrong. Searching, searching, and searching turned up only static photos and pdf files. In fact, NEC was only nanoseconds away from joining the Hall of Shame.

What saved NEC? Sadly, not anything fun or exciting in the least — unless you are the truest of /. geeks. Instead, we learn how how semiconductors are made via a virtual factory tour.

Please good readers, if this is the sort of rich media content you intend to produce, then hide it away just as NEC did. You wouldn’t want to scare away any prospective customers. Even I, someone who likes the NEC brand, has been made less loyal a customer by this pathetic and boring-to-death attempt at producing “engaging” online promotion.

Home page: NEC Electronics
Home page: NEC Global Gateway

NEC products graphic
NEC logo graphic

The Automatic TV Sound Regulator

Tuesday, 22 August 2006; 10:08

Each word alone in the above post title seems simple and harmless enough. Put together, they sound pretty darn inviting and high-tech. They evoke those same pleasant feelings stirred by the words “remote control.” But is the Automatic TV Sound Regulator (quite a mouthful, isn’t it?) or TVSR destined to become as ubiquitous as that “clicker?” (Clicker? Yes, younger readers. Remote controls were not always the solid state devices they are today. Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, remote controls made a distinct clicking sound when used. That’s why your grandparents call them “clickers.” Isn’t The Distillery a wonderful place for absolutely useless information?)

However, one must wonder why the firm did not devise or contrive a demonstration of the TVSR at its web site. It could very easily be done. Although not absolutely necessary to have a potential customer understand the product, a virtual “hands-on” demonstration might be a more effective selling mechanism. On the other hand, the manufacturer is not over-estimating the public’s collective intelligence when it supposedly explains how its product works. There are words written, but they ultimately reveal nothing at all about how the TVSR works.

One thing The Distillery tends to like about the TVSR site is the immediate availability and playback of its online [only?] video promotion. Yet, the manufacturer then falls into the very trap stated as the problem — no user control! One has no choice but to listen to the video except by navigating away from the home page. And given it’s right on par with some of the worst “only sold on TV” ads seen, the manufacturer walks right into the very quicksand its product is intended to help you avoid.

Another thing. The site states that the Automatic TV Sound Regulator (Are we certain that’s not the code name of some new DoD weapon?) does not reduce the sound’s dynamic range. But given what has already been noted about vacuous explanations, The Distillery questions that. By law, commercials cannot be aired at a higher volume than regular programming.

Then why do almost all commercials sound louder than the TV shows? It’s the lack of dynamic range that the shows retain and the commercials eschew. That is, does a whisper sound like a whisper and you must strain to hear it? Does the cannon fire from the 1812 Overture leave you no choice but to reduce the volume?

If both answers are no, then you are experiencing a lack of dynamic range. That’s what we typically experience with commercials. Commercials are simply notched up to the top of their dynamic range. So, now everything — whispers, pin drops, gentle rain falling on a tin roof, etc. — sounds just as loud as “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”

Home page: The Automatic TV Sound Regulator

TV Sound Regulator logo graphic

SeikoUSA.com

Tuesday, 8 August 2006; 14:38

It’s your watch that tells most about who you are.

The above is a quote from the SeikoUSA.com site. Does that mean anyone wearing a Rolex is not the brightest bulb in the room? The answer: Yes. The Distillery can summarize Rolex watches in two words: Caveat emptor. (I’ve owned two of them — and sold two of them. Rolex, without doubt, makes the worse watches of which The Distillery is aware. They cannot even come close to keeping accurate time in this day of cesium clocks. Rolex is one product where it is most definitely all about the name. Trust me and buy a watch that works, not a Rolex.)

On the other hand (or is that wrist?), I still have a Seiko watch that an aunt gave me approximately 35 years ago — and it’s still working and keeping very accurate time, without once needing a servicing in all those years. (My dress watch is a Seiko Micky Mouse watch. I’m very proud of it.)

But what about SeikoUSA online? The SeikoUSA.com site starts with a nice bass beat, but once in the site there is enough silence that one really can hear one’s watch ticking. An exception is the Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay. There we find so-so graphics and the endless repetition of a very short passage of music. You will want to click that “music off” link ASAP, or at least choose something other than the default. Also, do not bother navigating to http://www.viewpoint.com. The site apparently has nothing to do with watches, UTC, water clocks, or Big Ben. Seiko must not have been able to afford its promotion and therefore aligned itself with Viewpoint.com. (Is The Distillery missing something here?)

The next multimedia content found is for the Seiko Milemarker. However, hold your horses. After 30 seconds or so of music, we can again hear our own watches ticking. (Seiko, maybe that might work — a very low-volume ticking somewhere in the background. It would be better than either the terrible music or deafening silence you now offer visitors.)

What next? Spring Drive. At least this time we are immediately offered a choice to enter the mini-site with music on or off. Whew! That’s a relief. And finally, the sort of content we expect from one of the world’s best-known brands. We find a nice musical introduction and then a [very short] pleasant voice-over. But then again, the roar of silence. One must click on View Video under History to continue the light and sound show. Other short videos are found under Mechanism and Design. Oops, two additional videos are found under Mechanism: Three Key Innovations and Glide Motion.

From there we can click to reach the Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie. It is here that SeikoUSA begins to get more things right. The background music and softly ringing bell are very pleasant, but also do not wear out their welcome. We find a two-minute film about the Sonnerie. (Yes, they attempted to hide the controls. Look over to the right for narrow and broadband options camouflaged within the image of the watch’s workings.)

The film provides very little information, but if the watch rings as we hear it online, someone at Seiko got their harmonics very right. It is a very pleasant tone the watch generates and that we hear. Look no further. The remainder of the site is still under construction. Also, you cannot buy the Sonnerie just yet. It will be made available for private showings and purchase in Paris this upcoming November 2006. (Private showings? I think that means it’s very expensive.)

And last, we have Seiko’s historical timeline, A Journey in Time. Once again, a very short clip of music quickly gives way to silence. However, maybe all the silence at the SeikoUSA site is consistent with one of its taglines: The Quiet Revolution. That, they got right.

Home page: SeikoUSA

Seiko watches graphic