Sunday, December 16, 2007

Self-Defeating Engineering  

Meant to post to his hours ago, but I got caught up in Valve's Portal on their Orange Box collection. It's good stuff.

Anyway, wireless controllers are a great idea, right? I mean, rarely were the cords on older controllers long enough and they always ended up a tangled mess. Now that all of the current systems come standard with wireless controllers, my wife finally made her dream a reality of a game-zone living room that wasn't overrun with tripping hazards crisscrossing the floor. We got some cabinetry and a TV stand so all the consoles are in a place where they're accessible, but can be tucked away when guests come over. All the remaining wires are out of sight, and it's all good... except that the PS3's designers made the boneheaded decision to make the controllers rechargeable only while the system's on.

Hang on, let me explain.

Rechargeable controllers? I'm all for them. Recharging while connected to the console through a USB cable? No problem there. The problem is that the controllers aren't drawing current to charge unless the PS3 itself is actively ON and running. Why is this a terrible idea? Simple...

1> Since the controller is WIRELESS, I'd imagine the concept there was to let people MOVE AWAY FROM WHERE THE CONSOLE IS. This is especially true in our house now, since all the consoles are off in a corner. If the controller dies (as it did today) it has to be plugged in and the cord's like, 3 1/2 feet long. I don't know about you, but I don't make a habit of sitting with my TV in my lap when I game.

2> In our case, the PS3 isn't anywhere near the TV that's being used. Even if I was to go sit with my controller plugged in to the console, I wouldn't be able to even see the TV. Isn't one benefit of having wireless to be able to position things where you want them rather than being a slave to a bunch of cords tying you to the traditional "sitting in front of my console that's sitting in front of my TV" position?

3> The PS3 has a red light that glows when the system's "off" but the hard switch is still in the "on" position. This red light suggests to me that the unit is still drawing current, even if a very small amount. However, the controller can't be recharged unless the system has a green light, meaning that it's fully ON and running. This is fine if i'm actually playing it at the same time, but what about in instances like today? I don't want to play, I just want to recharge... soooo... I actually have to leave the unit on and running while I go and do other things? What sense does that make? It's a no-brainer to have the thing charging while the main unit is in standby, in my opinion.

Seems to me that if the PS3 engineers had given it just a little more thought, they'd have realized their choices are defeating the entire point of going wireless.

What next?

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