Sex and Electronics Part 2: Femme Den's Favorite Gadgets from CES

We asked Erica Eden and Agnete Egna, two designers from Smart Design’s Femme Den, to troll the floor of the huge 2009 Consumer Electronics Show for the Best and Worst gear from a woman's perspective. Smart Design developed OXO Good Grips Kitchen Tools as well as the Flip Mino line of handheld camcorders. Here are the gadgets they loved at CES... and the ones they want to send back to the locker room.

HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition Netbook

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Good This product would fit into to a woman’s life and her bag! We loved the size and weight as it is truly portable and still has a large enough keyboard and screen to do real work. It does just what you need while you are on the go. Strikes a nice balance between smart phone and laptop/desktop. Women could consider owning a home computer, net book and smart phone.

Bad We didn't love the patterns they chose. Why can’t we buy a non-patterned, solid color version? The swirls pattern looks dated and the Vivienne Tam design looks really cheap and plastic-y in person.

Ugly The materials, color and finish make the product look poor quality and tells the user that it is a toy, not a serious product you could use for work. A solid color would be better for both work and play. We won’t buy it until they come up with a simple color solution.

Clickfree Automatic Backup


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Good Easy back-up without any extra effort, thought or planning. Women have a lot of personal memories/photos on their computers and losing them is tragic. This product is plug and play. Just plug it into your USB and it automatically backs the important data you have entered on your hard drive (minus application and web data).

Bad Totally old-fashioned packaging, form language, messaging. The blister pack was the standard theft-proof solution that women on Amazon.com complain about in droves.

Ugly The graphic treatment didn’t communicate that it was designed for women or the product’s benefit.

LG Connected Home

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Good We loved that LG is addressing the issue of connecting all devices in the home, and we loved their booth, as the name “Connected Home” relates to how they’d be used. From our experience, systems of products tend to be very confusing to operate. According to the salespeople, these systems are very easy to set up, but we would like to see the instruction manual before we could say for sure. 

Bad The concept of connectivity was compelling, but the products themselves were still static black boxes that don’t quite respond to our desire for products that blend into the home environment.

Ugly The design of the remote was stuck in the 1990s, although, to its credit, it had fewer buttons than most. They could have done better job connecting the design of the remote with the products.

Motorola Aura Cellphone


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Bad The phone was a blatant example of a product that violated our principle of “Tech for a reason.”

Ugly The only new and different feature of this product was its round screen. Why is this good and better for the user? The result was a navigation that was impossible to figure out and so hard to use that we both put the product down after about 30 seconds out of sheer frustration. 

iRiver

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Good The booth itself was the star of the whole show. There was a strong emphasis on design on all products.

Bad The small USB keys were exciting--big memory in a small package. But the price point is quite high for a tiny piece of plastic. We're looking forward to a time when we can have 10 non-precious, yet durable, sticks in a bowl at our desks and grab memory whenever we need it.

Ugly It was a mixed bag in terms of interface. Some products like the Spinn and the Wave-Home had intuitive solutions, but the P7 media player was confusing. Women are busy and don’t have the patience or interest to figure out non-intuitive product experiences. No-fuss and quick-to-learn solutions are great for both women and men, but especially women.             

Palm Pre


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Good It seems like these ex-Apple designers responded to all the negatives from the iPhone in this new mobile device. They deliver on their message that users shouldn’t have to think about applications, that the phone thinks ahead and gives you just what you want from the phone. Here is why we love it:

  • Finally no more typos with a full qwerty keyboard. Even women with small fingers make mistakes on the iphone
  • Can have multiple apps open at once. Women love to multi-task, but can’t on the iPhone. For example, this feature is great for email; you don’t have to send or save an email in drafts folder when you want to check your inbox quickly.
  • Gestures are quick and easy to learn. Interface is shallow.  Both are great since we know that women get easily turned off by too many buttons as they represent options for failure.
  • Charging dock is easy and fast. Great for busy women who don’t want to fuss with a tiny, finicky, fragile plug.

READ Part 1: Women and Smart Design

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1 Comments

  • Imp Imp

    In part 1, you give several pointers, including:
    1. Being female is not niche.
    2. The ’shrink it and pink it’ approach is offensive to most women.

    Then in part 2 you go on to criticize several products, two of which are:
    1. With the HP Mini Netbook you bascially say it's small, but ugly. You like it because it's small, but you don't like the colour? Isn't that just a different shade of the shrink it and pink it approach?

    2. With the Clickfree Automatic Backup you say that "the graphic treatment didn’t communicate that it was designed for women". Why on earth would it be? Women aren't a niche market.

    If you can't follow your own advice, how can you expect anyone else to even take it seriously?

    The articles also make several unsubstantiated, and quite frankly offensively broad generalizations about sex-linked behaviour.

    The reality is that 90% of electronics don't suite women because 90% of electronics are crap. The fact that more men than women buy these crappy electronics says a lot about which sex thinks logically and which has more disposable income.