Tag Archive: quality


A long time ago, I bought a Sansa Fuze Mp3 player (as it was half of the price of the iPod with the same amount of memory). It has lasted several years with moderate usage, it has lived through some very extreme environmental conditions, and it’s still working to this day.

Side Note: I’m also a fan of how SanDisk does business: the Mp3 player just acts like a folder when docked to your computer (so you can just ‘click’ and ‘drag’ to add new songs…no need to work through a software like iTunes).

Honestly, it has  been a great little Mp3 player, but it has some quirks that drive me crazy!!!

  • First of all, when you’re trying to move within your song list, you have to spin the wheel to advance to the next song (you can’t just click ‘down’ or ‘up’).
  • Secondly, there is no way to jump to ‘fast scroll mode’. If you want something in the middle of the alphabet, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll until you get there (I wish you could just press and hold)!!!
  • Thirdly, you cannot loop around the alphabet (as in, if you want to get from ‘a’ to ‘x’, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll through ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’,… all the way to ‘x’. You cannot just go backwards from ‘a’ to ‘z’ to ‘y’ to ‘x’).
  • Finally, you cannot create a playlist on the go. They provide you with a “go list”, which is one pre-named playlist to which you can add a (small) limited amount of songs, but you cannot create a second playlist without hooking the Fuze up to a computer.

Now, the thing that drives me crazy about these little deficiencies are that they can all be alleviated with software, they require no additional hardware whatsoever!!!

Hardware costs money, and some companies have limited cash, so I understand why some companies use cheaper components in their products (I don’t necessarily agree with it all of the time, but I understand it).

The thing about software is that there are only two things that separate the great from the mediocre: time and intelligence (and neither of these should be in short supply)!

(Now, before someone  gets on my case, I know we all have deadlines we need to hit in order to keep up our freshness index, but, if we are in too much of a hurry, we will end up producing a far inferior product that annoys people (anyone else cram for tests in High School/College?!?). Also, I know that your software abilities are limited by the chips on which your software is running, but these chips are cheap compared to most of your hardware components).

Therefore, with this in mind, I really see a strong link between software and overall quality of the product and the company which the product represents. If there are bugs, poorly designed features, or broken links on web pages, it speaks volumes more to me about quality than a cheap part used in an assembly.

I get that your company may not always be able to afford better quality parts, but how can your company not afford to simply pay attention?

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TANSTAAFL

Words of wisdom from my former economics teacher: “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!”.

Likewise, I’d like to propose that “free” samples can end up being quite costly.

Indeed, it is great to send folks home with some free swag in hopes that they’ll keep you in mind and your little trinket will draw some attention from some other friends or co-workers who are in your target market, but it must be kept in mind that these samples can draw positive, or negative, attention.

Most of us overlook imperfections in things which we get for free, but, when this free sample represents a very expensive contract, or when another party sees our sample and does not know the background story, the perception may be different.

Example: I got a free pen from Kemet:

The writing is all chipped off, and it doesn’t look very clean.

Now, it may not bug me, because I’m not OCD (…although I am OCD about these things, so, yes, it does bug me quite a bit.), or I may feel that Kemet makes electronic components, not pens, so it’s not a big deal, but the message I get from this is that Kemet doesn’t care about their quality as much as I want them to.

If I’m using their parts in my products, I want to ensure that they are of the highest quality, so I want to make sure that all of my experiences with Kemet reflect this quality (clean facility, clean associates, typo free e-mails, and free samples that are free of cosmetic/functional defects!). 

It is completely possible to lose customers because of poor quality free samples (many customers have been lost due to less than that), and it’s a really bad reason to lose them.

When you are hunting for customers especially, you should put the best part of your best foot forward: I certainly wouldn’t want my product to look like that, so why would I allow the samples I’m giving to my customers and potential customers to look like that?

Two water bottles. One fail, one win.

Can you guess which one is which?

While the two water bottles seem quite similar (except the fact that the grey Ironman water bottle holds more water), the Ironman water bottle is indeed the fail, and I knew it was a horribly designed water bottle before I even bought it! (…please don’t ask why I still bought it…it was the best one they had at the time…)

How did I know that this water bottle was so poorly designed before I even picked it up? Because the water bottle came with two extra straws.

This was a clear message to me that the straws were going to wear out. Before I had even bought the water bottle I was thinking about how the straws were going to have to be thrown out in the future. …and what do I do when I run out of straws?!?!

The problem is the way that the straw attaches to the lid:

The straw is shoved over a “hose barb” of sorts. What this means is that, in time, the straw becomes extended and will no longer fit snugly over the barb (so it just falls off into the bottle). You can even see from the picture that the straw is cracked.

So, how do we fix this problem?

For this, we turn to Eddie Bauer (or whoever they pay to design and manufacture this bottle for them).

The Eddie Bauer bottle holds its straw quite differently. The straw press fits (gently) into the lid. It still holds just as securely (if not better, since the straw doesn’t crack), and it can take many, many more insertions.

Tip of the Hat to Eddie Bauer (…or, again, props to whoever designs and manufactures this bottle for them).

Again, my one qualm…

The Eddie Bauer logo is chipping off because of repeated cycles in the dishwasher and some heavy use. If anything is going to wear, make sure it is not your logo! Now, when I look at “Eddie Bauer” it looks sloppy and chipped up and makes the brand seem cheaper. Take care in applying your logo so it will last (unless you’re really not proud of your product, that is)!!!