Saturday, February 23, 2008
The wife, a friend and I are hanging out at our house this evening, and after watching all the Dirty Jobs on the PVR, and everyone else decided that they hated the Netflix I have, and didn't want to watch my Thai homage to 50s Technicolor. Plus, we needed ice cream. So, off to the Hy-Vee. And the video department is being cleared out. Now there's a Redbox off to the side: Besides being the only rental solution at the store, its something I had never actually used before so I couldn't resist. Home deck is not bad. Big, obvious choices with no gimmickry. So I click the obvious one, the "Rent a DVD" option. The expected screen comes up, with a list of movies... ...and that's it. There's no overall count of movies available, location in the list, search box... wait. There's no search box? Really, they seem to think that the limited selection (I didn't count, but like 50 movies) means they think browsing is enough. But its really no good. And the buttons are so generic, like any bad PINpad. It took me a good 15 seconds to figure out there was a 'next' button. If it was on the side, or had a big arrow maybe it would work. There is a minor ability to sort, but its not that great. There are two small tabs at the top to sort by release date or title (I guess, alpha, the default). They are small, the color highlight is vague (I got it, but a friend read it backwards) and they are hard to hit. You can get above it, so the cursor appears to be on it, but its not activated; that's a serious failure of basic design principles. The tabs are hard to hit at that target size due to the bezel getting in the way and casting a shadow, and the parallax error. Touch alignment isn't perfect. The scrollbar (used a few other places) is just as bad in the same ways. Perhaps my favorite is when you press the "Online Rental Pickup" option: There are clear, animated instructions. Unless you don't want that option. At which point you have to wait for timeout. There is NO back button of any sort. Nothing to get you anywhere else, to a help screen or anything that is available in the rest of the application. You'll note I don't comment on the payment, delivery and return processes. That's because we didn't rent anything. As I said, we were somewhat in the mood to get something to watch, but the inability to actually find anything but top-40 playlist items from the Redbox meant we didn't begin to consider getting anything from there. We actually spent time looking thru the clearance bin (from closing out the store video department) instead. Even not finding something worth buying, that was a more satisfying browsing experience. Aside from the selection, there may be something satisfyingly social about browsing movies on a scale larger than touchscreen. Have to think about that some more.