November 29, 2006

Presto, More than a comment....

Ronnie Bennett gave such good feedback on the Presto product/service, that I thought I'd post it here so that -- in case anyone involved with presto searches, they might find it and take some of her advice...

Take it away, Ronnie:

Oh, dear. There are so many things wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin.

In no particular order:

THE PRICE: $150? What kind of inflated ripoff is this. I have an HP printer/scanner/copier that cost just $89. And we all know how much those HP ink cartridges cost, the ones that seem to have less and less ink each time you buy them.

And $10/month just to receive? Full dialup connections can be had for that price. And they haven't even mentioned the cost of the paper.

OPERATION: Computers and their offspring are supposed to simplify our lives, not complicate them. How long will it be before this service becomes a pain in the butt to son or daughter with constant phone calls from mom or dad to please add another email to the approved list. (Elders don't stop making new friends just because they're old.)

Add to that, that friends will change their addresses and inevitably, email addresses will get screwed up from being passed on verbally, ending in arguments while mom and dad wait impatiently for their kid to update the list. It's too cumbersome.

ATTITUDE: Throughout the Presto site there is a subtle but definite assumption that mom and dad are too dumb to use a computer, but I'll spare you Crabby Old Lady's rant on that.

HOWEVER: It is true that some elders will never learn to use a computer because they are 1. not interested, 2. stubborn, or 3. not capable.

Still, we all know what a pain it has become to communicate with friends and relatives who don't use email, and printing and snailmailing grandkid photos seems, these days, to be more work than necessary now that we're accustomed to email, Flickr, etc.

SO THIS GIVES ME AN IDEA: (Some more tech-savvy sorts than I am can tell us if it is viable):

What if HP built this with a keyboard and small screen? Just that, no other computer capability.

Then, turn the service into a limited
dialup connection for email only. No need for computer-phobic people to learn all the ins and outs of computing and the internet, but the communication could then be two-way and eliminate the need for son or daughter to constantly update for mom and dad.

It could include a simple form for adding email addresses, but that's it. None of other even basic bells and whistles of email clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. except choosing email addresses to write to. Just simple two-way email.

A huge added value in doing it this way would be that computer-phobic elders would become accustomed, over time and probably quickly, to using email. They would come to see how simple it is, enjoy the fast communication and it would ease more of them into computer use. Think of it as computer training wheels - one step at a time into full computer use.

BOTTOM LINE: For a few people, this is a solution. But overall, too expensive and not forward-thinking enough.

PS: The Presto website breaks more than one rule of elder usability.

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