Archive for the ‘gadgetry’ Category


Bad customer experiences but with a happy ending.

History

You cannot read any news today without being attracted to some adjective that overstates the subject; the world’s funniest video, the prettiest girl, the ugliest dog, the dumbest president, etc.

When Wicked Lasers based in Hong Kong  said they were going to introduce a ‘real lightsaber’  on the marketplace that could burn flesh, blind people, and was the most powerful handheld laser ever produced and offer it for sale at about a 10th the price it would have been before, all for $200 a few interesting things were going to happen, and they did.

1)      The laser community that were faithful to wicked were shocked and had a mixed feeling about it.  If you had purchased a laser week, month year earlier you could have paid 10 times as much, for one 1/3 as powerful.  There was not a simple early adopter issue, this was a game changer.  So there were mixed feelings there. Also the community treat lasers with respect at that price, or make their own. if you make a Ferrari for the price of a Fiat, then it floods the markets with newbies, that dreadful part of our society that embrace a new technology perhaps for only a few minutes in herds taking away resource from forums etc.  and perhaps makes your long term hobby at risk due to the possible lack of respect the newbies have to what really can be dangerous, I get it. It happens with surfing beaches and it happened with the internet.

Define Victim of your own successes

2)      The media that saw a promo fake video showing this new laser blowing up a car and reports of a flesh burning real lightsaber, were grabbed up and it got legs as they say.

3)      George Lucas Jedi godfather got all legal as the word lightsaber offered by the media made Lucas defend the name, trademark and product offering,  Funny enough the laser is more like a maglite then a lightsaber in a lot of ways and I find that better.  Wicked do some models of less powerful lasers that do look more like lightsaber but again I have never heard them described as such, but logically if you are making such a device anything that looks like a stick with a light on the end of it (or just a stick) could be considered a lightsaber. As a child I played army with a stick pretending it was a gun, glad Colt or Remington never tried to sue me.

4)      Casio- The godfather of watches and other technology make a new digital projector that use 24 diodes the magic bit of a laser. These new projectors, are the most powerful and cheapest ever offering the harvesting of the diodes a fraction of the price and allowing the cheap laser to be produced. The result is Casio threatened legal action, and issued a letter saying customers should stay away from these dangerous devices.

The actual 24 diodes in the Casio Projector enough for 24 arctic lasers

5)      The momentum for the new lasers grew, orders were made and the small company in Hong Kong got quickly overwhelmed. Combine this with the company that had embraced the media and were sending customers  willingly to the social interwebs of twitter and facebook, and multiple forums, and it quickly became a bit of a love hate relationship. Die hard professionals that were almost amused by the frenzy, and new owners that could not understand why wicked lasers was so willing to take customers money, and so unwilling to communicate the delays in producing the units or anything really.

6)      It also appears there was concern in the US (the largest customer base) of the safety of the new lasers, so a design change had to take place, that in hindsight was a good thing but in reality meant more delays and with no communication to the customers a worsened customer frenzy took place with the seller wicked lasers.

7)      It is estimated many orders were lost due to the negative press over the poor service. But wicked has more orders than they can deal with so they might not be too bothered. Their answer to the drama was to offer customers refunds, or discounts on future orders, or even free product on future orders. They to date never got it that all customers wanted was the truth.

8)      Some owners even noted they were credited for their lasers and still sent them. Additionally a further design change offering a further delay but with extra features at the same price, also confused many buyers initially. This meant there were 2 models G1 and G2 with the G2 being shipped later offers variable power, strobe features and more. Really worth considering.

9)      This meant getting having to notify wicked again if you wanted your original order sooner (6 weeks vs 1 week of original expectation) or another 2-3 weeks or longer again. This then required proactivity by the customer base to contact wicked and ask for their laser ASAP or the default and wait a bit longer for the new model.  A real mess for customer service. All wicked needed to do was stop making offers of delivery times they were not able to keep.

10)   They promised 4-5 delivery dates publicly that they never kept to and it grew to monty python proportions where a customer would ask for an update and they would not reply, or offer a refund and nothing else. They would send customers to the community forums that customers could not get login access to. It really was a lot down to existing customers through the existing forums that through their own aggravation helped drive better communication back to the hordes of laser newbies that made their life hell, and folks contacting the media that had ran the story to begin with.  To many that were first time customers of Wicked Laser, but not first time customers to purchasing on line it had all the markings of a con. Even many customers that new the company was legit had doubts over the miss information wicked laser was publically offering. For a small community with perhaps a few thousand orders it was a big deal.

The Review

Well, with never purchasing a portable laser before, I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say I am a bit overwhelmed at the build quality and I do not impress easily. I was expecting a lightsaber replica plastic light and fragile feeling.  Something a kin to a large laser pointer, which is the only thing I could compare it to. I found it more a cross of a lightsaber 20% and a mag light flashlight 60% and 20% something else.   As I have a bit an appreciation for mag lite flashlights (am I alone) it is a real compliment.

Packaging
Shipping form china the packaging was superb and the detail of the user guide and even the magnetic lid on the box feels almost (dare I say it) Mac like…

Safety
Now I did not want to go with the hype too much, but as the unit came with 1 pare of safety goggles I purchased a 2nd pair, and a set of optical lenses that I have to admit with the prisms, mirrors, and other lenses (some fit into the arctic housing). The laser will burn, and it is strange to be burnt by a laser, the human braid says fire=burning, light is safe. With a laser it is like a very hot flame, and will set things on fire like a match will. This is NOT a toy. As a result there is a safety switch and even housings that can be removed to make the device unable to start.

The laser
As mentioned the feel is heavy like a mag light, and to say the unit is bright is again an understatement. So wearing the goggles is a no brainer. The battery is about the size of 2 c batteries stuck together in length, is included and a charger that is both 110 and 240. If not in the USA you will need a USA to your plug adapter. Brightness, this mutha is bright, if you add one of the extra optic lenses I also found it produces a dot about a foot in diameter that does not seem to diminish over long distances.

Was it worth it
From a novelty perspective alone yes. If you have no children that might be at risk yes. Not as deadly as a gun, it should still be treated with respect.

Any negatives
There does seem to be some build quality issues and some folks have shown usability issues and some defects.  The unit I have the G1 was fine and I had no other issues. I have heard some reports of lense issues, but not sure what they are at this time.

See it in action
Please visit YouTube to see the video review http://bit.ly/arctic-laser

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Now to ‘ Un-confusify’ it all.

Covertly arriving in July 2009, the new standard in Radio is now here in Australia along
with loads of hardware (radios) to choose from.

And believe me it is confusing.

oxx

The OXX Digital DAB+ Radio (Classic) offers the best value and list of quality features, and style.

To those in the know, (many UK ex-pats, audiophiles and geeks) this is a BIG deal.

Australia was an early tester of DAB radio but failed to agree the standard for
some time. By the time the standard was agreed the technology had moved on and Australia
opted for the newer better quality standard.

The bad news for some early adopters is that the old standard and new standard uses different radios  for the 12 months testing period. This means some folks in Australia outlaid as much as $2000 for hardware that is now useless as all of the old stations have been turned off.

For the smart ones that had never heard of DAB Radio or waited, the good news is there is plethora of new hardware landing all over Australia and a slew of new DAB+ radio stations waiting for you to tune in.

What is the difference between DAB+ and DAB

Simply the old DAB radio dates back to the 1980’s and remains virtually unchanged to this day. In 2003 better quality DAB+ Radio started to emerge offering quality twice as good or better.  The DAB system uses MP2 Audio Codecs and the DAB+ uses mainly the AAC format.

Now What?

Well this is the good news. Hardware (radio) suppliers have had a good 2 years to ramp up supplies, and distribution for the new radios. Additionally other technology has come into being in the radio world that creates the confusion, but the best opportunities as well for the consumer.  This includes IP (Internet Radio), Pod casting, Streaming, iPOD/iPhones , as well as the normal FM and new
DAB+ stations as well all becoming part of the crowed radio market at can offer  a different radio for every use as well as Mobile (car) Stereos.  The different radios other than the traditional am/fm are:

DAB+

– The new driving force for the convergence of technologies, offers CD quality sound via radiostations. As mentioned there new stations coming on line everyday offering high quality News, Music, Sports and more 24/7.  The screens on radios offer the music track names, artists, station information and more.

WIFI- IP (Internet Radio)

Amazing in its own right, this kicked off in the 1990’s and offersa choice of 11,000 plus stations from all around the world. Amazingly stations can be selected by country, genre and even sometimes (NOT ALWAYS) by individual stations down to its Internet URL.  It uses your own Internet connection (works only if you have WIFI or a wired Ethernet connection)

WIFI Streaming
Having your internet around the house means you can now stream from your PC to some radios, or via the wired Ethernet connection mentioned above.

iPod /iPhone- Adding your on iPod to a radio, is easy now with a docking station added to the top of
many radios.

Consumer Choice  –
The good news for the consumer is you longer have to go to specialist stores to find DAB+ radios, instead you can pop down to your favorite retailer and some (like Harvey Norman) have done a good job of stocking their stores but as of August 2009, training is not good and no one seems to know the difference in quality or features, and in the case of Harvey Norman even have DAB+ radios in 2 different departments (being they are different franchises in the store) but the selection makes them a good contender as the best. Also many DAB+ radios can be purchased online for a bit of a saving, I still prefer when possible to handle the merchandise, even if I purchase it online afterwards. Again to date online costs do not seem to be less than Harvey Norman, so bear that in mind.

Which brand of Radio? –
With as many as 50 radios on the market it can be a bit of a
minefield and the purpose of this article.

Misc
There a plethora of suppliers already from Bush, Sangaen, Grundig but the main ones are below.

Pure
When I was testing the old DAB radio standards. Pure were the only real quality players out
there and I am pleased to say they seem to be the leaders in offering choices in mostly DAB+ only radios here in Australia in every shape and size and around 20 models to choose from .  I find the
quality of their lower priced units (around $300) not good quality. Their better units (like the evoke 2-s ) are $600+ and again way overpriced I think for the marketplace). Unfortunately I believe they have missed the boat a bit and do not seem to be making the best of all the other technologies mentioned above.
Pros–  Good selection with over 20 radios to choose, from now easy to find and price points from $200.
Cons- Not a big fan of the styles they offer and low on features, overpriced at mid-high  end. Entry level models feel cheap.

Roberts Radios
An institution in Radios for 75 years globally makes outstanding radios in all shapes
and sizes  but again I feel are a bit overpriced in the marketplace.
Pros– good quality, high end radios
Cons– not kept with the times low on
features except the more expensive models, overpriced.

OXX Digital-
Based in Sydney they are  a Danish company not a name you would know
but I believe make the best DAB+ radio on the market, not  just on features  but  thebest value as well. Only the Roberts radio (at $500-800), offers the featuresof the OXX   –   http://oxxdigital.com, with DAB+/FM/Internet Radio (all  11,000) stations /streaming/and more.
Pros– great looking, perhaps in a league of their own, great value for money. Best feature is the favorite’s button that has UK BBC stations pre-programmed in the Internet Radio mode.
Cons– none to mention really, they have not truly launched with a bang yet, so not a huge selection to choose from but with these features who cares, you might find yourself getting more than
one.

More Technical info is available here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Broadcasting


The original story on this was more important for what it did not say and thus is missing these big points.

1) The phone has to be NextG (beyond 3G) the only network Telstra will operate soon & not a platform the I-phone currently works.

2) This will also mean (as it is the Telstra model) it will likely get the 33 TV Stations on it from Sky/ Foxtel (at a sligthly higher price

Discussions are ongoing.

<Another Comment>


So, this will likely be Next G (sometimes called 3.5G) for Australia.
HSDPA is 3.5G. It is an extension of 3G, it uses the same network frequencies. 3G handsets can reach up to 384Kbit/sec. There are two HSDPA networks in Australia. Telstra run off the UMTS850MHz and this is HSDPA enable, they label their network NextG, since they believe its Next Generation.
Optus, Vodafone, Three (and Telstra too, as Three and Telstra co-own the 2100 Network) run off UMTS2100MHZ and this is also HSDPA enable, they just label it HSDPA.

I am not sure about other countries, but there are only a handful of countries which run off the UMTS850MHz frequency, from memory AT&T and Cordova in the States run off 850. UTMS2100 MHz is more widely used.

Note, Telstra claim their network is faster, since it is capable of 14.4Mb/sec. However there aren’t any 14.4Mb/sec devices, their current handsets (only the V6 V3xx and a few of the ZTEs) and turbocards only reach up to 3.6Mbit/secs.

Optus, Three, Vodafone don’t really state how fast the network is capable, but they too have devices which reach up to 3.6Mbit/sec, ie USB Modems and Nokia 6110 and n95, ironically phones which Telstra rejected as they were not UTMS850.

read story


 

 31 October 2007 

 Wake Up USA ! Get With the Mobile Phone Program.

I think it was Will Harris on Leo La Porte’s TWIT program  that commented about how the USA is out of sync with the likes of the UK, when it comes to mobile phones.

Here in Australia (the place god made when he wanted paradise),  due to the evolution of mobile phone plans (1st UK, then Australia, now USA), my fellow USA countrymen and women seem at odds with being able to fork out a few dollars for a phone. 

Hearing the whinging about the I-phone cost at $USD600 when it came out (now $400), we folks here down yonder laughed (and cried), wanting to get our hands on one.  

 You see Australians had mobile phones before they really had mobile phone plans, think about that. If everyone buys a phone then sorts out a phone plan, the system just works. 

 Now that there are more mobile phone plans (and confusion) then you can shake a stick at, we Aussies (been one for 2 months now), can choose our destiny, buy a phone cheap (unlocked on eBay or the corner shop) then pick any plan we want.

You can do this in the UK and the USA but not as common as they are here.

This means the idea of forking out AUD $1200 for a new HTC TYTN 2 (my phone of choice) or a Palm Treo 750 (also made by HTC) and my wife’s choice just under $1000 is often cheaper then the plans where you may have to pay over $2000 for the phone with service over 2 years ($89 per month). 

 The problem for phone companies is they know Aussies being a resilent bunch will order from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Japan, if they feel they are being ripped off. 

This makes Australia a country the size of the USA but with the population of a few more than Holland (The Netherlands) and less folks per square mile than almost anyone, a tough egg to crack.

When (and if) the I-Phone comes to Australia, if it is on a phone plan and folks get too upset here, they will just buy one from one of our nearby neighbors, and screw Apple. 

Until then we will import them from wherever or  whomever we choose, unless someone comes along and offers us a good reason to do something else. But we got it right. A mature well educated market close to countries that now how to sell cheap.

 As long as the USA market is what it is, the likes of AT&T and Apple can force folks how to buy, when to buy and now how to pay.

USA, get with the program.

 



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<updated>20 August 2010

hi folks

I won’t be updating this much more, but still interesting that I do seem to still get visits every week to this story, comments and queries.

Most all of the zen the mp3 players/products this addressed have long been considered end of life for creative labs. Creative labs themselves are struggling and they may soon be end of life themselves, as they struggle to reinvent and diversify themselves.  With apple owning so much of the mp3 market place and Microsoft about to get in the mix, via the windows mobile 7 platform, creative will have to work hard to even compete for low market share. As a result of all of this the availability for drivers for the older players are currently still on the creative site (here is a short-cut) http://bit.ly/zen-mp3. I see by my last update windows 7 has come out since I updated last. It is actually easier for windows 7 then vista on the compatibility side of things so that is good. Please continue to leave comments and questions I will try to be as fast as possible on my responses.


3 Jan 2009
Merry New Year ! – (thanks eddy m)
Had quite a few emails recently asking for additional help. Sorry don’t have time anymore to address everyone.  However I will update the blog occasionally with anything worth adding.
Most of the older Zen Mp3 Players (like my NX) that I wrote about originally, are thankfully (for Creative.com). Technically end of life. This mean that the support of the these (if there ever was any) Is all but capture. However to date all the drivers I mention are still available (if you have lost your orignal cd or drivers.. at their site here .

Now creative is changing their site soon, so the site may change url embedded above. Always go to creative.com,  technical support, mp3 players then look for your zen player for all your driver needs. Hope that helps.

<updated 21 September 2008>
Hi Again,
I am still heartened to hear form so many of you around the globe.
Keep asking (and let me know where in the world you are from please (what city is cool)
A question that is coming up more frequently now, is will it work with this zen device or that zen device.
Just remember, I am not using anything other than Creative’s own software to get it to work with vista.
It is just the order it is installed, that works.
So if the software works, it is the order it is installed.
For a faster email response you can now email me here @ big-knut@news-knut.net
(be nice I hate spammers)
<updated 31 July 2008>
Hello folks,
Nice to see this is still working for you long after I originally posted the blog (judging by the comments)
It still amazes me that creative blew it so bad.  I for one just bought a new mp3 player and avoided creative like the plague (but I have to confess I did look) so I could glare and dismiss them.
As some folks might be aware creative actually sued someone last year for taking what I did a step further as they actually made their own drivers for some creative products to work with Vista.
The article is here if you are interested. I think he was sued, but it would have been interesting had my plight got on their radar as nothing was tweaked just the order in which their own drivers were installed.
It is a shame that creative as great as they once were seems to be less of a player these days (no pun intended but ok). So the moral of this story is if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.
But if it is broken (or in the case here, not broken just not working)
  • You should have the right as a consumer to raise hell, complain  and when all else fails find a way to get your money’s worth (and perhaps a bit more).
  • My 30gb zen NX (my 3rd zen mp3 player), just got out-grown, like those before it, and with it the last likely Creative product I will ever buy.
Thanks again for the feedback (positive or otherwise).
Regards,
News-Knut  alias Mr-Internet
PS, Creative keeps moving some links around, so please let me know if you bump into any dead links and I will keep updating them.
<updated 3 January 2008>

Just a further note that  when you complete the install on vista, you should have the ‘nomad’ explorer logo showing per the image above regardless of whether or nt a device is connected.
When you click on it, it will show its state as connected or not (per the images above) and change when you connect the device(s). I also use the 3rd party ‘notmad’ product by ‘redchairsoftware’, and it requires the creative driver to be installed and working 1st.
Hope that helps .
<Updated Story 4 November 2007

I decided to give my already updated PC to my wife, and build myself a new Quad Core PC (why not).
I also decided not to install any software that came with my Zen NX to see if I could make vista work without it this time. It was harder this time but took 10 min. vs 3min last time.

Note: MAKE SURE YOUR ZEN IS NOT PLUGGED INTO YOUR PC’S USB PORT yet..!!

1) So you need to decide if you need the creative media player/converter (media source) or just the explorer program so you can sync programs.(file explorer).
2) Either way you will need the program “JB3MV2_PCWDRV_US_2_01_00.EXE”. It is on creative .com or around the globe just google it. You need to run it in windows xp compatability mode (that’s right click properties, seciurity run as xp sp2). Also run and install as administrator (right click, properties, run as admin.) This is the zen driver for your PC.

Note: If you intend to use a 3rd part product like red chair <updated they have good ipod products also) , you also need this driver above.
Note: I have tried it not doing this way and it gives you errors.
Note: In installing it with the player plugged into the USB it killed other USB ports, that I then needed to unplug and replug into, no biggie either way.

3) On installing the jbmv2… driver it appears to hang at some number 52% say… after it is there for a while you may need to manually cancel it (do not turn off your pc). This is because the code written for XP is not written for Vista so it appears to hang when it really has not). Once you manage to kill it then it says it is in installed.
4) Depending if you want file explorer (for syncing NMEX_PCApp_3_01_10.exe) or the media source program for playing and converting (CMS_PCAPP_LB_3_30_21.exe) they should install fine now.

Note: I suggest installing media souce 1st as it works witohut rebooting, file manager for syncing required a re-boot).

5) Note: desktop shortcuts might not appear but will be under programs/creative via your start button.
6) Enjoy (or reboot and enjoy).

Original Story

A Little Tweaking and your Zen NX is now Vista Compatible..Chew On That Creative March 2007- Melbourne Australia
Not thanks to Creative Labs that ignored all contact on the subject (from me and the rest of the world) all but to say the Zen NX is not Vista Compatible Bull Sh**. So why would they say that if it wasn’t true? So you buy a new MP3 Player.. maybe.
Because they couldn’t be bothered to support a last generation MP3 Player.. maybe.
Or because they were perhaps too lazy to spend some time finding out how to do it…likely. So I have to start this quickly to say I was a Zen fan boy, from the original hi-tech 8-bit PC soundcards, other incarnations of mice, and yes MP3 players.
I started with the original NOMAD MP3 for $300 US, then when the NX came out I had heard the spec and that it had essentially a laptop battery inside…hmm what would happen if I hacked it and added a 60gb HD into it..hmm.
OH MY GOD! It worked a 60 gb Zen NX and I used to amaze my friends (the geek ones of course then). SO when I finally went to install my little friend on Vista, I was more than a bit saddened by the fact I had to use my XP machine to update my music.. But wait a minute, Vista can see the player but the drivers are pooched .. SO after a bit of trial and lots of error (days) I got it to work on my new M90 Dell laptop but I don’t know how I did it. Time to try on PC, this time it took 45 minutes to figure out how I did it, so simple I can afford the waffle on.

1) Install original software that came with nomad.
2) Sometimes it will install other times it will all run but in the end after all the software (media source) etc is installed it will see the Zen NX, but not work.
3) Reboot
4) Go to creative.com and download the lasted media source program (currently Creative MediaSource Player/Organizer 3.30.21 and is about 52mb.. I know some are going tried that..
5) Install the software (currently here ) 6) Run it, it should install (but still won’t work on the Zen NX)
7) Reboot
8) Go to your original software disk and under drivers run the Jukebox driver driver_JB3.exe It will say it cannot read your disk on this and windows will say this is not a legal driver. Just keep installing it, and saying yes or ignore.
9) It may ask you to reboot, if it does reboot
10) Enjoy
This should leave you with your portable device icon being live and the latest media source software. If the latter doesn’t happen you can now reinstall the latest media source (or firmware etc) and all works fine. For me it was installing Notmad Software from my friends at redchairsoftware.com/notmad.
That now also worksAny questions leave a comment on my blog here, I will answer all. Except why didn’t creative do this themselves in the 1st place..

Updated 19 September 2007

Hi all,

I tend not to edit unhappy comments, so all comments appreciated.
I am sorry if any of you have had trouble getting this to work.
I have recently spoken to Creative Labs and Redchair Software (or at least tried).
Thus far neither are willing to offer any patches for their products to make this easier for folks to use their Zen NX.
Their view off the record, is they see the demand for a fix, not worth their time in revenue.
I can appreciate it (even though I disagree with it).

So, I note that there was a more recent release version (version 5) of the media source organiser. It did not work for me with the Zen NX. Nomad, or Zen (the orignal 10gb model) on Vista.
So to date I am still happily using the tweaked 60gb zen nx 110% with vista. If anyone needs help just ask.

Enjoy