The Daily Ping

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May 21st, 2002

Electronics Changelog

I’ve been browsing for a few different types of electronics products recently and have realized that it’s taking a lot longer than I should to decide which model I want. Once I decide on a brand and model of a product, I do a price search and find that a similar model with a different model number is available for a few dollars more. So, I go to the manufacturer’s web site, bring up the specs for the two products (if the information exists) and try to see what the difference is. It can be sketchy, at best, trying to see how model XL-850 is different from model XL-855. Is the 855 the same model with a different number sold at a different store (a frequent trick that Circuit City and Best Buy will play with the manufacturers so that you can’t do a price match between the store on the same item)? Or is the 855 a slightly newer version of the 850, which may have had a serious flaw in it?

This is where software developers shine: the Changelog. Go to the site for your favorite shareware application. Download the latest version and notice the Changelog in the ZIP file: it’s a rundown of what’s new in each incremental release of the software versus the previous release. This way, when version 2.94 comes out, you know that the developers fixed a rare, but fatal error from version 2.93. Why can’t we have the same type of information readily available from electronics manufacturers?

I’d love to see a rundown of the new features on a video camera versus the next model down. But to do that, one has to go back and forth between two frequently incomplete spec sheets and hope to spy a difference. I think it’s time for electronics companies to step and offer some of this basic information to customers.

Posted in Miscellaneous

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