Alan Cooper released the book ”The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity” in 2004. In it he notes that when we make things ”smart” by adding a computer, what we get is a computer – with all its quirks and poor user experiences. It was written in the pre-iPhone era, but the bad examples are still with us, and on Friday I was a victim. I have a Samsung Smart TV which is a beautiful and well performing TV. Even the 3D, which I thought would be a gimmick, works really well. But, the ”Smart” part isn’t…
The user interface on my Samsung Smart TV is absolutely awful. On Friday I was trying to pay to watch some movies (I am stupid that way), using the SF Anytime app in the TV. The first bizarre surprise when I bought the TV is that I cannot attach a keyboard to it. This really becomes an issue when setting up user accounts and finding URLs etc, since that requires input of long text strings. The remote and the remote apps work poorly to solve the problem. The remote app can sort of bring up a keyboard, but the keys have random functions (keying in an ID and then hitting return does not move to the next field, instead it inserts the random character that the on-screen keyboard happens to be on). The process becomes slow, random and very cumbersome.
The help for setting up SF Anytime does not mention that I needed a Samsung ID too. It sort of described the association process, but that was of course inactive since I didn’t have a Samsung ID. And why should I need to?
So, Instead of just logging in to SF Anytime, I need to associate the SF Anytime ID to my newly created Samsung ID. But that process does not work. I can log in to SF Anytime in a browser, so it is that really unnecessary step that doesn’t work. And with Carrier IQ in fresh memory, why does Samsung do it that way?
Other gripes are that the Samsung ID does not autologin. It takes 5 extra clicks on the remote each time I want to log in on the ”Smart TV”, and that Skype does not work without a special camera which isn’t officially supported on the Skype website (but should work), and is relatively expensive. Since experience has made me not trust the TV system, I would have loved to verify the function with a camera+mike combo I already own.
I tweeted about this in a very upset state, and people have asked ”should you really write stuff like that” being an occasional spokes person for IBM and all, and to that, all I have to say is: a) Nothing on my personal blog or tweets are the words of my employer. b) My experiences are not from a professional encounter. This is my private equipment, bought with my own money, used on my personal time. c) Sorry, Samsung, but it’s your own fault. Your poor user experience drove me nuts. Shape up. We are in a post-iPhone launch era, and I have an AppleTV-box to compare with.