Saturday, November 29, 2008


Analog vs. Digital Controls

I thought I must have posted on this, but I can't find it using my search engine. I'll have to post more, but here are a few thoughts:

1. Notoriously, digital readouts for speedometers were tried and rejected. Old people liked them, not young people, because old people think slowly anyway.

2. Digital clocks are inferior.

3. Digital controls generally are inferior except when precise numbers are important and speed of response is not.

4. One place where a digital control would be useful is for the gas gauge. Somehow, a digital readout is *never* available for that.

5. Old analog radio controls were vastly superior to the modern digital ones-- even to pseudo-analog twist-dial ones.

6. Twist dials should have one complete turn take you from zero to the maximum level. For some reason, my Eclipse radio doesn't do that-- it takes many turns. You want to be able to instantly switch to the desired level.

7. Knobs should be used for pre-set stations on car radios. You need a control that sticks out and can be felt without having to take your eyes off the road.

8. Analog tuning is better than digital because it is much faster, and more accurate.

9. Important controls such as volume and tuning should be large, for finer control and easier finding, especially in cars.

10. Engineers are idiots not to notice these things I've been describing. Why? Probably because controls are an afterthought and because designers don't test devices as users. Also, because analog controls are lower-tech, single-use devices, and are hardware controls, not software ones. The modern ideal is to have no moving parts and to have one control that does everything via complicated nested menus.



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