Thursday, April 02, 2009
London's Alpha Geek recently posted a review of the new Nintendo DSi - and it got me thinking a bit about choices. By rights, I think most people probably believe choices are a good thing. If I'm hungry for pizza, I like that I can choose my toppings. If I need shoes, I'll probably look at several pair before I pick my usual white sneakers. But sometimes, when more than a few bucks are on the line, I wonder of choice is a bad thing.
Let's start with Nintendo. Is it me, or is their product cycle for handheld gaming getting shorter with each crank of the Nintendo widget machine? Game&Watch begat Gameboy which begat Gameboy Pocket which begat Gameboy Color which begat Gameboy Advance which begat Gameboy Advance SP which begat Nintendo DS which begat Nintendo DS Lite which begat
Nintendo DSi (and I'm likely missing something, somewhere here). We now seem to measure the distance between models in months when it used to seem like years.
With every new device - a new feature or two and the subtle threat of backwards incompatibility. In the Nintendo mould, new features are put out there in the hopes of finding novel ways for Developers to incorporate them into games. But this constant evolution usually leaves me cold insofar as I hate to leave behind solid old investments to make way for better ergonomics or web surfing on a tiny screen. Maybe I'm too old and cheap for this racket.
Exhibit Number 2: selecting a GPS. I've been meaning to replace my long-gone GPS with a new one - mostly for car trips. As I've discovered, there are lots of choices. I just want a device with a nice screen, color maps, and a pleasant Moneypenney voice that tells where to go and when to stop. Instead I have to decide whether I want MP3 support, FM-based trafiic reports, selectable vehicle icons, routes, waypoint support, multi-calc auto-routing, books-on-podcast subcriptions, and 50 other options I cannot remember. The good people at Garmin have managed to package and re-package these options into about 4 different product lines and 30 different models. Predictably, I'm stumped. Just when I find one that does simple stuff for a fair price, the model is discontinued and I have to start over. I'm lost with or without a GPS, I fear.
I think Henry Ford probably had is right - and I'll just take the black one, thanks.