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The obsession with small

March 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Olympus E-420I noticed anandtech has an article about the Olympus E-420 titled ‘Olympus E-420: World’s Smallest Digital SLR‘. Why are electronics companies so obsessed with making everything smaller? Mini, nano, it’s always smaller than the last version. Is this another race like the megaherts battle of CPU speeds or the megapixel count of digital camera’s? To borrow a phrase from elsewhere, size isn’t important. Ergonomics and ease of use are.

It’s fine to make a tiny pocket sized digital camera when the buttons are on a touch sensitive screen since they aren’t crammed into every piece of available space. Same with a pocket music player like the iPod touch. Some things just don’t work as well when they are shrunk too far. A couple of years ago I bought a Nikon D50 Digital SLR camera. The choice at the time was between a D50 and the Canon 350, and until I tried both camera’s the Canon 350 had the edge. As soon as I laid hands on them the Nikon was the only one for me. It just felt comfortable in my hands, all the controls were where my fingers fell. The Canon was too small, my pinkie fell under the body and the controls felt cramped. So here’s an idea. Instead of offering different colours how about consumer electronics are sold in different sizes for different ages and levels of manual dexterity?