All Giz Wants: Consumer Electronics That Don't Act Like PCs

Disc_Errors.jpgI know "All Giz Wants" are supposed to be fantasies involving shiny objects, but this really is my fantasy: I'd like high-def disc players that don't flash "unreadable" error messages, receivers that can pull music from a network without headaches—in general, home electronics that aren't shacked by Ethernet plugs, firmware-update discs, slow boot times and mandatory periodic hard restarts.

I'm not saying I'm anti-progress. We've reached a point in this industry where everything worth a damn is more PC than CE on the inside anyway, and we have to take the growing pains if we want the growth. But suffering a Blu-ray disc error on the PS3 the other day caused me to consider the issue: is it so wrong for us to ask for reliable CE products, ones whose added functionality is not complemented by added hassle? I feel like half of the products I've reviewed this year were cool but had at least one feature that was not ready for primetime. Yet they are sold in Best Buy. Even the beloved TiVo, role model for the New CE, has an occasional propensity for misbehavior.

So, for 2008, I want consumer-electronics product developers to spend more time on quality assurance, and less time shopping for gimmicky third-party software to tack on at the last moment. The temptation is highest in the realms of high-def disc players, "connected" receivers and sound systems, DVRs, game consoles and digital picture frames. Keep 'em clean, guys—we love all the added functionality, but if it doesn't work 100% of the time, for the love of God don't ship it.

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