I’ve purchased my share of electronics this past year and have noticed a disturbing trend. Almost every new gadget I’ve bought comes with either way too much documentation or far too little. Here are three examples from recent purchases:
1. Motorola E815 – Great phone but the manual for this phone is downright user-unfriendly. The manual is small in dimension yet numerous in pages which makes for a very frustrating experience when all I want to know is how to dial to voicemail. At least with a manual that’s too small I’d just move on and call Verizon for voicemail instructions, but this manual was so big I figured the answer to my question just *had* to be in there somewhere. Yet it wasn’t.
2. Creative X-Fi Soundcard – This is a $125 soundcard yet Creative acts like it’s selling me a $15 POS model. Instead of an actual manual I’m given this huge poster of sorts which requires a good 5×5 foot area to read! I’ve seen the “poster manual” a few times now and it’s really annoying. The poster usually only has enough information to get the item installed yet leaves little room for anything else.
3. Canon ZR500 – For an entry level camcorder I’d expect Canon to include very clear and comprehensive manual, but that’s just not the case. The manual is clear but is severely lacking in several basic areas of operation. For example, I’m like most people that would expect to be able to transfer video from the camcorder onto my PC. So I break out the manual to see how to accomplish this and Canon includes a whopping single paragraph of help. Canon actually says, “See the instruction manual for the software”. Canon basically pawns off the responsibility to someone else which is little help for a beginner.
The only electronic item I’ve purchased lately that included a comprehensive yet clear manual is the HP OfficeJet 4215 “All in One” Printer. HP did a nice job of organzing the manual so I’m able to find the answer to most questions very quickly.