Here are 8 biggest tech annoyances
These issues may seem small but when they combine over all the different devices you have, it adds up to a few extra BP points.
FAKE MEMORY CARDS
As if fake batteries, copied cellphone designs and fake mobile chargers weren’t enough, we now have to deal with fake memory cards too. This is a real problem, especially if you decide to shop in the competitive, crowded, computer marketplaces like Nehru Place in Delhi and Lamington Road in Mumbai. The fake cards have very convincing packaging which is exactly like the original. They are exactly the same size, shape (without any rough edges) and even have the same printing without any mistakes.
In fact, kept side by side, you will not be able to tell the difference between a genuine memory card and the fake one. The difference is in how they’re made and the quality of silicon used. Fake cards will often be much slower, they obviously won’t adhere to any speed ratings or certificates (such as high-speed, Class 10 and so on) and they’ll have much higher failure rates. You’ll know only when it’s too late.
Margins are high in this fake trade and the number of people who can spot the difference are few. In fact, fake memory cards is one of the main reasons why companies like Xiaomi do not provide memory card slots in many of their devices. Fake cards can lead to data loss, irregular performance, disappearing apps or just general device misbehaviour. To be sure, check for things like holograms or an official manufacturer price label (which lists price in INR, addresses and customer helplines). Make sure you buy from authorised dealers or just buy from reputed sellers online. For instance, buying from WS Retail on Flipkart or from Cloudtail on Amazon will ensure that you get a genuine product.
NON COMPATIBLE 3.5MM PORTS & HEADSETS
All smartphones have a 3.5mm port — but the truth is that all 3.5mm ports are not the same. Well, they are the same ‘size’, which means that you can take headsets and earphones from one brand and plug them into a phone from another brand. Now the best case scenario is that they work just fine, and this is likely if they’re plain stereo headsets.
The problem arises with earphones that have inline volume or playback controls. When you use one brand earphones with another phone, the problems range from the basic (inline controls don’t work) to the more severe (crackling sound, sound from only one earpiece, no sound at all). The problem arises because headset jacks typically have three or four contacts, separated by little plastic bands. Three connector jacks are typically called TRS: tip, ring and sleeve – for the three different contacts. Four connector jacks are TRRS, because they have two ring connectors. The connectors may be at different heights for different phones which is what causes the problem.
NO HEADSET IN THE BOX
Not having a headset in your cellphone box may not be a big deal to most people. The reasoning is: there are multiple headsets lying around from other phones, so why waste money by increasing product price (and contribute to electronic waste). The reasoning is sound, but combined with the previous point about different 3.5mm connectors and the fact that cheap in-box headsets don’t contribute much to the overall price — it adds up to a pet peeve.
FORCED APP DOWNLOADS
There was a time when an online retailer or seller of products was required to have two different ‘versions’ of their website: a regular one and a mobile optimised one which would work better on smaller screens. Then came the app revolution and suddenly everyone wanted to have their own apps — which is fine, as long as you’re offering the consumer choice: whether to shop on the website from a computer, on a mobile device web browser or by downloading a smartphone app.
There’s no denying that apps are the future. But the problem started when the larger ecommerce players started luring customers to shop from the app — with app-only deals, lower prices on the apps, shopping festivals that begin earlier on the app and so on. Now, as it turns out, Flipkart will not allow you to shop from a mobile device unless you have the app.
If you try to open Flipkart’s home page from a mobile device web browser, it simply asks you to download the Android or iOS app and provides a link to each app store. But what happens if you’re on a BlackBerry or Windows Phone? No luck! Other majors like Myntra have now gone app-only which will eventually lead to another problem: you’ll have to have multiple, specific apps for each portal that you visit, which will clog up your phone memory, probably eat up your data in the background, increase your battery consumption and pop-up irritating notifications (with sounds) when you least expect them.
TOO MANY REGISTRATIONS AND FLASH SALES
From a marketing standpoint, flash sales and pre-orders are brilliant tools. You can drum up free publicity about an unannounced product. You can accurately judge interest from potential consumers and get a a fair idea of initial sales numbers.
And depending on how desperate the consumer is, you can even take part or all of the money up front with no clear delivery dates (or sometimes even prices) in sight. But we’re more concerned about the consumer who can end up drawing the short straw with these deals.
The reasoning behind some of the flash sales is that there is high demand and not enough units to go around. But as more and more manufacturers start having exclusive deals with e-commerce giants and start limited registrations and sales that finish in seconds, it begs the question: are these legitimate or just marketing gimmicks?
PROPRIETARY LAPTOP & CAMERA CHARGERS
Every smartphone manufacturer except Apple has moved to the micro USB port for charging. This move has made it simpler to charge your devices anywhere because everyone has the same charger/cable. However, when it comes to cameras and laptops, it’s a different story. Almost every brand uses proprietary chargers for their devices. At times, the same brand will have different proprietary chargers for two different variants from their range. It’s inexplicable!
This compels you to carry multiple chargers: laptop, camera and a microUSB charger for phones. If only cameras & laptops could also switch to microUSB, it would make life a lot easier for road warriors.
NON EXPANDABLE & NON REMOVABLE
This is a new trend with smartphone makers for the memory and the battery. There are some reasonable sounding explanations for this.
For instance, performance can be compromised by fake or low quality memory cards. About smartphone batteries, most people don’t buy spare batteries in any case, preferring to use battery packs. A non replaceable battery is also safer because a consumer won’t have the opportunity to use a spurious battery.
However, this also means that manufacturers can offer pricey upgrades for different storage options — how convenient is that? It also means that you have to send the device in for service if you need a battery replacement — another pricey option. Non user removable batteries are also becoming commonplace on tablets and laptops. Though it could be argued that this is good for sturdiness of the device and helps to make it slimmer.
REDUCED PORTS IN LAPTOPS AND TVs
Most of the devices we use — be it smartphones, tablets, laptops or TVs — are getting slimmer every day.
While they might look great in their slimmer avatars, the obvious downside is that something is cut because of lack of space. In Televisions, slim TVs typically offers only two HDMI ports and a combined composite/component port. If you have more than two video souces that connect to the TV, you will need to keep switching wires or buy additional equipment. The more sources you have, the more irritating this problem becomes.
With laptops, the fight for slimmer and lighter has led to the same issue: limited ports. This means that the number of peripherals you can use is limited. There are mostly two USB ports, a card reader and HDMI port.
So if you use a 3G dongle, you’re left with just one USB port. VGA and Ethernet ports are usually removed as they take up a lot of space. If available, you might have to use additional adapters and this means added weight, expense and complication. You could use a USB hub or dock (if available), but wouldn’t you prefer a slightly thicker notebook that offers more ports rather than having to fumble around for multiple adapters.