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Why Are Inbstruments Designed To Make Life Easy, Becoming Ever Harder To Use?

Such as portable telephones?

Bounced into buying a brand new portable telephone - I need only to make voice calls and text messages, and then briefly and infrequently; I am not one of those teenage girls who spend all day acquiring RSI by tap-tap-tappety-tap on little blocks of plastic. Nor do I believe in walking round supermarkets and into pedestrians by concentrating on shouting at a block of plastic glued to the ear.

- I ended up with a nightmarish contraption, an LG something-or-other: the model label is inside, found only by taking the back off and removing the battery.

Its text feature is better than the old multi-letter press-buttons, but that's about it....

It took me a while to find instructions (see above on identifying it, as I'd lost the packaging), but these revealed the telephone aspect is only peripheral. LG  lists it as an application rather than main function.

It's also bulky, so less portable than the previous generation, at about twice the area; and surprisingly heavy. Plus its battery runs down rapidly if you leave it switched on.

I am trying to wean use away to a second, older, simpler Nokia 'phone, with different service-provider and number but basically a telephone first, not a miniature PC/camera/games-machine on which you can reputedly also ring people. I can call out on the LG but it will not let me answer calls to it as the "swipe" move of a flashing icon to answer does not work.

The last straw came this afternoon. Part way through hospital follow-up treatment I wanted some advice but that led nowhere despite using a land-line phone and the number I was given. Then late tonight I switched the LG on to find the doctor I needed to find had rung me this afternoon - I was elsewhere without that phone - and left a voice message. The display told me how to recover it, but....

..... Bloody Typical! A recording saying "Press 1 for Reply, 2 to save, 3 to delete...etc"

You can't. The virtual keyboard is not on the voice-message screen! I think I noted the number so I can ring tomorrow, properly, but I have no idea if the message has been saved.

These instruments were intended to help our lives. Over the years they did so, and indeed improved to a point, but also collected more superfluous rammel; and now they are more rammel than function, and ever harder and clumsier to use.

Anyone know why we cannot have simple, efficient equipment that genuinely helps us; rather than what the makers tell we will have irrespective of personal needs?

Some people say it's "progress". I suggest they learn to differentiate between Progress - meaning time - and Improvement - meaning quality!

Posted - April 5, 2018


  • 5354
    It is called feature creep, the computer version of the old "because it is there" that made people climb mountains. Addins camera and video-recorder cost little more than the lens used to focus. Likewise most of the features are just program code in the ROM memory that it has to have anyway. So developers get ideas and add them, And any feature that any other phone have must also be available on 'theirs'.

    But there is a bright side too, all those silly features you dont need does not make it use the battery faster, just make sure you do not use them. The video recorder is free as long as you dont use it. It only uses battery when you turn it on. The main battery drainer is actually listening to and sending packets to the cell-net repeaters, that uses a lot of energy because of the very high frequencies used.
      April 5, 2018 9:19 PM MDT

  • 3683
    Oh, I realise there's a lot of "because we can" about it. I do not use either of my phones for the Internet or as cameras.

    What annoys me especially is that the 'phone function appears a secondary feature, and it is very awkward to use - I have been unable to respond to calls through a combination of me not having the foggiest idea how, and the phone itself not responding as it should even when you follow its displayed instructions.
      April 6, 2018 4:50 PM MDT

  • 46117

    You mean like machines that edit?

      April 5, 2018 11:35 PM MDT

  • 3683


    Can't blame the machine for me hitting two adjacent keys almost together.

    I did spot my typing mistake - and that on a real keyboard not a 'phone - as soon as I posted it; but whilst you can edit the text, you can't edit the title.

    After I'd posted that I turned from AnswerMug to a CAD programme I am struggling to teach myself. If using an excessively-complicated telephone is bad, try an application whose commands don't do as they lead you to expect, leave error messages that explain nowt, and scatter what should have neatly fitted on an A4 sheet as fragments over 4 sheets!

      April 6, 2018 2:40 AM MDT

  • 19942
    Much like you, I am resisting buying a new mobile phone because all I need one to do is make/receive calls without all the other bells and whistles.  So far, my old (very old) LG flip is still working, but it's probably nearing the end of its life expectancy.  There are phones out there that don't do much and when I need to get a new one, I will look at those.  If I can't figure out how to use it, the phone is useless to me.
      April 6, 2018 7:18 AM MDT

  • 3683
    My first was a Nokia, possibly of the pattern called "second generation" (plain case about 4" long x 2" wide and nearly 1" thick, with a little stub aerial). It lasted for over 12 years, with a new battery pack only about a year before I had to scrap it, and then only because water had penetrated and ruined the liquid-crystal display. 
      April 6, 2018 4:45 PM MDT

  • 19942
    The first mobile I had was a StarTac which I adored.  It was 3/4 the size of a pack of cigarettes and had a pull up antenna.  I loved that phone.  After a while, it just gave up and I bought the one I have now.  It must be at least 10 years old and I just replaced the battery.  There's a crack in the case so the top of the flip is a little wiggly, but so long as it works, I'm good.  Funny thing is that when the battery went out about a year after I bought it, it cost me $40 to replace it.  I just bought this new battery for $7.41 including shipping!
      April 9, 2018 6:18 AM MDT

  • 3683
    I have two portable 'phones.

    One is a small thing, a Nokia I think, about 5 years old. You can put it in a shirt pocket - in fact it's just a bit too small sometimes; a bit fiddly to use, and it locks the keyboard or goes to sleep far too quickly. as far as I know you can't extend those times. Even so, it's a voice and text 'phone first and foremost. I don't think you can use it on the Internet.

    The other is this LG effort, one of the latest things some 6" long by 3" wide, roughly, heavy for what it is, and very hard to use. I've missed calls through being unable to answer them. Its text side is easier to use, provided you can remember from one day or fortnight to the next what the silly little symbols mean so know if you've replied to one received. That "fortnight" is not an exaggeration - it does reflect my infrequent and irregular use of these things! I don't touch its Internet facilities.

    The Nokia is on an 02 PAYG service, so cheap for me to use. I'm tempted to visit the 02 shop to see if they've something a bit better but still basic, for same service.

    The LG's 2-year, 'phone-only EE contract is still only a few months old. (My broadband and land-line stay on BT.) It would cost nearly £200 to buy off the rest of the contract, which I had bought without realising what I was doing,  and I doubt a second-hand phone is worth much even unlocked and card-less. Yet.... Sometimes it's better to cut ones' losses! Tempted to go to the EE shop to have it unlocked, then take it to the second-hand shop only a few doors along the street.

      April 17, 2018 3:23 PM MDT