Last week the tech conversation (or "tech talk" as insiders call it) was dominated by Amazon's Fire Phone. And for good reason! Consumers should be very excited about an AT&T-only smartphone with multiple cameras that only exist to facilitate impulse purchases on Amazon.
Wait, should we? Why should anyone care about Amazon's Fire phone? I don't know, but then again I'm not sure why anyone cares about Amazon hardware in the first place. Sure, their devices are great at locking you into a proprietary storefront, like Apple. Unlike Apple, however, Amazon doesn't offer appealing hardware design or an attractive and responsive user interface. They don't even have an Apple logo on their products.
Their best device is the Kindle, and that's largely because it only needs to display text on a very nice screen that someone else made. Sort of hard to screw up. Not that Amazon hasn't tried. It is 2014 and sorting your book collection in the Kindle's UI is still a more painful ordeal than reading that ebook of Steamblade of the Dark Prince: Kingdom of Assassin Magic you got for 99 cents.
What I'm trying to say here is that it's a shame everyone was paying attention to Amazon's bad hardware announcement. It totally overshadowed Adobe's bad hardware announcement, which was way more fun. Take a look at the Slide:
It's a ruler. Not just any ruler, an electronic ruler. Sort of. It comes in a package with a stylus for the iPad and together they cost $200.
Slide does not have perfectly straight sides. It is not quite long enough to bridge the display surface of an iPad, which it is specifically designed for. You don't actually drag the stylus across the Slide like a pencil and ruler. Instead, you put the Slide on your iPad and a few temporary lines appear vaguely near the ruler-like device. Then you grab your stylus and draw freehand lines on top of those lines. It's perfect if you thought that using the image editing program's line tool was too easy.
If you don't get the appeal of the Slide, that's because Adobe has engineered this product for the future. Specifically, for six months from now, when you open a drawer and come across this physical manifestation of buyer's remorse alongside a cell phone heart rate monitor and Google's Nexus Q.
What if the Slide turns out to be a success, though? A newly energized Adobe would surely follow it up with more hardware. If this happens, I predict that two devices will launch by the end of 2015.
Adobe Flash Box
When a device focuses on a single task, it becomes elegant. Magical. Here Adobe crafts a piece of hardware that's dedicated to the one thing they're best at.
The Adobe Flash Box capitalizes on the popularity of set top boxes like the Roku and Apple TV, but it doesn't use Flash to stream movies or tv or web content. It actually doesn't do anything at all, aside from checking for Flash updates every ten minutes and prompting you to install them.
Adobe Paint eBucket
Finally, a full-sized bucket for the digital age. Unlike a regular bucket, the inside is not empty. The Paint eBucket is one solid block of high quality plastic weighing roughly twelve pounds. A brushed metal handle attachment is available separately.
Think about how often you find yourself filling a space with color while editing a picture on your iPad. Tap the paint tool. Tap to paint. Ugh. Who has the time?
Now you can simply reach for your Adobe Paint eBucket and struggle to tip it over directly above the precise spot that needs to be filled. Careful! If you hold the bucket in place too long the color will overflow. This tension creates a visceral experience that really connects art and the artist.
Suggested retail price: $499
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
Cons: causes bad nightmares. I used to have to eat beef until I passed out to have these kind of terrors, but this machine does it for me every time I fall asleep inside it.
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