By Chuong Nguyen | January 16, 2008 11:22 AM
“Powered On, Sound Off” will be a new series that will occur from time to time in which I will post my ideas, reflections, and thoughts on relevant issues regarding mobile computing. I encourage readers to participate and “sound off” their thoughts in our discussion.
I read an interesting article over at TiltSite regarding the issue of devices being manufactured with high-end features, but having those features disabled. One such instance is the case of HTC, the maker of the TyTN II/Tilt among many other successful Windows Mobile devices, utilizing the Qualcomm MS7200 chipset, but not enabling the graphics/video drivers so that the devices could play multimedia smoother and have a quicker response. Theoretically, the Qualcomm chipset does have an integrated video/graphics component to enable better video playback.
Moreover, in their marketing on the HTC Global product page, the firm never promised that the device would be enhanced for gaming, video playback, or system-intensive multimedia, unlike other competitors like the older Dell Axim with an integrated graphics card. In fact, there was no mention of an integrated video or graphics card. For the unhappy owners of the TyTN II, is this a case of buyer’s remorse–expecting too much from a device by reading the pure specifications, “specs,” sheet? Or is this HTC failing to deliver?
We have also previously reported on this site about a petition to HTC to release the video drivers. More recently, the people over at XDA-Developers have created a pot for some developer to come through and create drivers. Additional websites have been created to bring this issue to light, two of which include HTCDriver.com and HTCClassAction.org.
As a Tilt owner and user, I have evaluated my needs before purchasing my device. I understood that it comes with Windows Mobile 6, has integrated WiFi, GPS, HSDPA/UMTS, GSM/EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth, and a relatively short battery life with all these features enabled. My needs for the device include: email, PIM functions, ability to stream video via Slingbox or stream music through various internet radio stations and/or programs, and other applications that I use regularly including a financial calculator. I do understand, as somewhat of a more experienced user, that the device can play videos and I can load movies, but I do know that a dedicated portable media player (PMP) would be better suited for the project. With these needs and constraints, I understood that the Tilt fits my needs best at this time.
For me, the issue of the drivers is important, but at the same time it is akin to buyer’s remorse. It’s like users who were sold a device with WM 5 and expect a WM 6 upgrade when none was promised. If a WM 6 upgrade was promise and one was later cancelled (like the case of the BlackJack), then that’s different story. For me, you were sold on what the device has and will do under the manufacturer’s conditions, not on the potential of the device to do greater and better things. While HTCClassAction.org says that a class action lawsuit is the last resort, there shouldn’t even be a class action suit as HTC never promised video drivers. Videos do play, although somewhat choppy.
Another example of this would be the case of Apple, Inc. with the iPod and iPhone. Users knowingly buy the phone/portable media player with the understanding that the battery is not user-replaceable. However, later in the game, there appears several class action suits regarding the fact that the battery is not user-replaceable. My thought is let’s not cry foul when we know what we’ve gotten ourselves into.
So what are your thoughts? Too high of consumer expectations or a device manufacturer neglecting to address consumer needs?
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