The GoldStar MA6511W microwave oven is a triumph of kitchen appliance interaction design. Featuring only two mechanical controls that are all too rare in an age of overly-complex digital designs, the MA6511W deserves as much praise as can be put into this 16 minute episode. The adjective “intuitive” is often over-used, but it applies to this small microwave oven.
Microwaves are functionally simple devices often made difficult to use by manufacturers who put frivolous features and buttons on something that doesn’t need to be complex. A mad dash for “features” at the expense of audience needs and usability is common in microwave oven design, but GoldStar’s design team tightly focused this oven for a particular audience (re-heating in space-cramped kitchens) and did NOT try to please everyone. The result is a wonderful appliance that has also proven very durable–7 years of trouble-free service at the time of this episode’s publishing.
The How Stuff Works website referred to in the episode has some podcasts you might be interested in:
“Attack of the Pointless Modal Confirmations”
Tim critiques almost two years of experience with the TomTomXL335TM portable GPS in a longitudinal review plagued by a ragged voice from a nasty January filled with mishaps, and a mental wooziness that we hope isn’t too obvious. But food poisonings, auto wrecks, and seasonal colds cannot prevent the fact that the XL335 is a GPS that has terrific voices which sound wonderful, but unreliable software and horrid modal confirmation abuses throughout.
Just reflect on this one example of interaction design gone wrong; sadly, it is typical of the TomTom Way:
It takes eleven, that’s 11, taps to change voices on the XL335TM. I am not making this up.
And here are TomTom’s excellent marketing of its Star Wars celebrity voices:
Darth Vader in the recording studio: http://youtu.be/2ljFfL-mL70
Yoda in the recording studio: http://youtu.be/FdcJVuylmsM
Two feedback emails round out this 46-minute episode.
In which Tim Keirnan and Mike Beasley discuss vintage shaving tool designs, featuring the safety razor and straight razor. Shaving with these old methods has many advantages, including:
* Closer shaves that last longer before the dreaded 5 o’clock shadow appears
* Improved skin condition due to premium creams and soaps used
* Lower cost of ownership (unless you start collecting gear as a hobby)
* Sustainable technology compared with disposable plastic-dominated, modern, overpriced crap
* Better user experience due to mindful nature of single-blade shaving that many find relaxing and even fun, due to the “gourmet” shave creams and soaps, brushes, and blades used. As Mike says, it’s more classy.
Two forums in particular helped us convert from multi-bladed cartridge monstrosities with industrial “goop in a can” to vintage shaving:
Mike frequents this forum and likes it a lot.
Tim favors this one for forum owner Bruce’s blog and the very international nature forum that is small enough to feel neighborly and doesn’t overwhelm you with millions of posts per day.
Legendary Zack’s article on boar bristle shave brushes, and some other blogs:
YouTube channels that helped us greatly include:
Legendary Mantic59’s Shave Tutor channel. Excellent how to videos.
Geo does a lot of terrific reviews of razors old and new, shaving with them while doing his reviews.
And Michael Ham’s reference how-to book on safety razor shaves:
Recorded live at Internet User Experience 2011 on October 11th, it’s the panel session “The State of the Internet User Experience” starring
and Tim Keirnan as the moderator.
Learn more about the panelists at
Thanks to all four panelists for allowing Design Critique to distribute this recording.
In this followup to episode DC82a, Tim describes the conclusion of his interaction with Logitech Customer Support. Unlike the MINI/BMW car maker attitude towards service after a sale, Logitech proves itself exceptionally good at listening to a complaint about a defective product and fixing it quickly without hassle.
If only more companies took their customer experience after the sale as seriously as Logitech does! Service after the sale is as important as the product design itself. Indeed, it IS part of the product design. Only arrogant, “take the money and run” companies, such as MINI, fail to understand this. Long-term brand loyalty is usually increased by responsive customer support.
The longitudinal review of Tim’s 2009 MINI Cooper is here! A car so unreliable that he had to get rid of it after only 2.5 years. Automotive human factors engineer Ken Mayer (cohost from our earlier Saturn SC2 car critique) returns to help Tim on this very detailed critique of the second generation MINI Cooper, a stunning mix of greatness and disaster (the car, we mean, not this critique). If you love cars, you’ll love this episode. We put the long in longitudinal product reviews!
Basically, the second generation (post-2006) MINI Cooper is a frustrating mix of unreliable components assembled unreliably. MINI refused for over a month to send Tim’s dealer a new piston and rod when those went bad at only 31K miles. The flaky electronics are infested with more gremlins than, uh…that movie named “Gremlins”. An addictively fun car such as the MINI almost makes you forgive its shoddy quality…almost but not quite. Tim broke his addiction and is now in MINI detox. Please pray for his recovery.
But there’s still a lot to praise about the things MINI got right in this car. Buckle up for a rollicking, passionate, detailed review that covers everything you want to know about a car that inspires passion, both positive and negative, in an era of unloveable, boring “familymobiles”.
Then join TrueDelta to tell the world about your car’s reliability. Write your own reviews for your car(s) to tell the world what you’ve enjoyed and disliked. Check it out right now at
Tim critiques the Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 portable speaker system for iPods, iPhones, and other sound-making gadgets. The Pure-Fi Anywhere was Logitech’s sequel to the highly successful mm50, which Tim and Alan reviewed way back in episode DC39.
This longitudinal review covers two years of experience using this product, including the new user interface, the industrial design that both delights and disappoints, the improved sound quality of the bass response, and a problem with the battery that we should all be upset about in consumer electronics.
Internet User Experience 2011 is coming to Ann Arbor, Michigan, this autumn! Check out what this terrific annual conference has to offer this year at