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Bluetooth? Where’s My Portable Rotary Phone

I had to laugh at word of the new “Port-a-Rotary,” an old-time dial telephone that’s been rigged to work wirelessly. Take it anywhere! Only $400!

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It’s funny, but it also gets at a serious point. Most consumer electronics are just way too complex. They’re small, they’re sleek, they do everything–and they take a physics major to decode.

True, a rotary phone isn’t going to fit in anyone’s purse, or even a hefty briefcase, but your mom — or even grandparents — could certainly figure it out.

Some of you may remember the piece we did in November’s issue: “The Beauty of Simplicity.” We took a look at everything from Google’s search engine to a TiVo remote and marveled at their ease of use and application.

Although most of us are now used to ring tones that sound more like Beyonce than a Model T horn, the introduction of items like the Port-O-Rotary may be the public’s cry for a phone that doesn’t come with an instruction booklet bigger than it is.

Here’s an idea: why not hold every new techno-gadget to the “mom” standard? If your mom can’t figure it out after a couple of tries, is it worth sending to market?

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