Welcome back, and happy New Year, and all that. Crave is still bleary-eyed, slightly deaf from a near miss with a low-flying firework, and unable to smell after singeing our nose hairs on a flaming Sambucca. For those reasons and many others, we failed to make any New Year's resolutions of our own... so we're going to start the working year by laying out resolutions for all the companies in the gadget universe.
1. You will give your gadgets proper names
How can you expect people to ask for your products by name when you splatter them with alphabetty spaghetti like ? You wouldn't see a name like that on a car, would you? There are plenty of cars with dumb names (Hyundai's Trajet springs to mind), but at least they're memorable. Two or three letters and/or numbers is acceptable (think Mazda MX-5 or BMW Z4), if your product is distinctive. If it's a hard-drive recorder that looks much like every other hard-drive recorder, DVD recorder, DVD player or VCR on the market, give it a proper name. Please.
2. You will sort out the sack of adaptors
We can't leave the house for more than a couple of days without toting a big bag of power adaptors -- for the phone, the MP3 player, the portable video player, the digital camera, the handheld, the games console and so on. All these adaptors are providing similar voltages through similar metal prongy things, so let's have a standard voltage and a standard prong and charge everything from one chunk of metal and plastic. We'd like Sony to take the lead on this one. It manufactures all sorts of portable gadgets and could easily settle on a standard power adaptor, much as it uses Memory Stick across all its products.
3. We don't need any more memory card formats
But speaking of memory cards... we remember the day when digital cameras took either CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards, and most people thought CompactFlash would eventually be the sole, standard, if-you-want-something-for-your-camera, you-want-this memory-card format. And then along came Memory Stick, and MultiMediaCard, and Secure Digital, and xD-Picture. And now those formats are fragmenting, giving us Memory Stick Duo, and Reduced-size MMC, and MiniSD, and MicroSD (formerly TransFlash), and xyD-Picture, sponsored by Coldplay (okay, we made that one up). We don't need any more memory cards, and we certainly don't need anything smaller than the toenail clipping that is MicroSD. Enough!
4. You will supply all the necessary bits
That said, if you want opening the box to be a happy experience, make sure you've included all the necessary cables, adaptors, batteries and memory cards. Points to Sony Ericsson for including a 512Mb Memory Stick PRO Duo with the W800i Walkman phone, boo hiss to Apple for not including a charger with the iPod nano and iPod video (yes, you can charge them over USB, but firing up an enormous, power-guzzling desktop computer just to squirt a little electricity into your slinky, dinky nano isn't exactly eco-friendly). We also condemn all the camera manufacturers who send out their cameras with enough memory for just five photographs. Count them on the fingers of one hand, one two three four five, then go back for a bigger card.
5. White is over
Even Apple knows that winter is passing. Sure, the iPod came to fame in white, but it ventured into colour with the much-loved iPod Mini, and the latest incarnations come in both stormtrooper white and Darth Vader black. No prizes for guessing which colour is light-sabering its way to the top. Let's have some fun and funky colours in 2006.
What changes would you like to see this year? Post your five most wanted in the Talkback section below. -ML