Sunday, July 6, 2014

Usability Matters

A few minutes ago, I watched a great review by Bobololo that not only throws a post of mine under the bus (and I'm actually REALLY glad he did), but also points out a huge factor that can so often be overlooked.  In this case, it was something that I overlooked.  Usability matters.  Here's why.

Take a look at this breakdown for cost with the Cam ECS-12.  If you want the Cliff Notes version, essentially I come up with some numbers suggesting that, for about the same price, you can build up a rifle like the Cam ECS-12... or you can just buy what Nerf made.  Now, take a look at this not-so-hands-on review Bobo made of the Nerf Cam ECS-12.  It's pretty obvious the big bit that I left out of my number crunching: the performance of the camera components themselves.  Thanks to Bobo pointing out the elephant in the room, it's obvious what the real flaw of this blaster is: you can't take usable footage of a Nerf game with the equipment the Cam ECS-12 will feature.  When push comes to shove, the quality and framerate of the camera isn't something you'd want to use to review your battles or share on social networking sites.

For the cost of TWO Rapidstrikes, both of which perform better as blasters and come with more ammo, you can pick up one rifle-style Stryfe with a camera that will defeat it's purpose: capturing footage from Nerf games.  My main mistake was letting the cost aspect of that study surprise me and actually think that this might be a decent buy.  If you take a step back (or if you let Bobo convince you, instead), the cost doesn't really matter when it's defeating the main purpose of why you'd invest in a blaster like this in the first place.

I'm actually really happy Bobo pointed this out, and I'm glad to say that I was wrong because it was a wake-up call to something I don't want to lose sight of when it comes to this stuff:  Usability Matters.  You can spend spend spend all you want, but if it doesn't do what you need it to do, it's just sucking the fun out of your funds.


  1. Attention, lenghty comment:)

    I see it more like your previous post where you made those calculations.
    Yes, the camera sucks. Period. But: Can you built a better system for less or at least the same price? Tricky. It's not only the camera, it's the screen and the recording device - and all that for 40$? What did we expect?

    Of course you can mount your (existing) smartphone to a blaster - but from my experience a lot of people are reluctant to do so.

    So the question one should ask oneself is: Do I need this or not? And if yes am I willing to pay for it or am I even willing to spend more bucks and built something like this for myself?

    I mean, if this was on shelves with a better camera for, let's say 150$ with a better camera (and I think that still wouldn't make the camera 720p) - would people by it? I really doubt it. The Camblaster is designed for kids getting this blaster payed for by their parents - and the more expensive this thing would get, the harder it would be to persuade them to pay for it.

    I find all rants about this pointless because the fact is you can't build a better system for the same price. And if you could it would probably still not be integrated as nicely. It'll be zip-tied to the shell mostly;) So if someone is not willing to pay (admittedly) a lot for a 2002 style camera system, he would have to decide if he wants to spend even more - or simply have no camera attached to a blaster at all.
    I find it illogical to complain about a high price because of a bad quality if a better quality means an even higher price:)

    1. Check Bobo's video, he shows another option that's much cheaper!