NEW DCC System! (or why would I spend big $ for ugly technology)
"Intellivision DCC" To Be Released Soon
Check out the new DCC system ..errr.... not. For those of us that remember, the product above is actually a Mattel Intellivision. From the early 1980's. What's my point? Simple, in the age of the iPhone, Wii, Xbox 360, etc... why is it that Digitrax, MRC, and NEC (to pick on the big 3 US makers anyway) make products that would have looked like telecom utility gear even 20 years ago? Are my fellow American industrialists just completely clueless when it comes to product design? Case in point, here are representative samples of their cornerstone products in the marketplace today:
Now I realize that this will offend some users that will point out that these systems are state of the art and a 'pretty box' is no substitute for easy operation, reliability, etc... Point taken, and I agree. My point is not that we should have 'pretty boxes' with crap functions, etc... but why is it crazy to expect both? By profession, I am a marketer. I'm not an industrial designer, but as a marketer I know that design communicates (sometimes dishonestly) attributes that the product would be expected to have. The 'message' I get from the product design of the above big 3 US manufacturers is that this DCC stuff is 80's technology and does not look fun at all.
Compare, if you will, the new Marklin Central Station 2. I can't speak for the technology or its capabilities (that's not my place and there are plenty of other places online to get that perspective. Its beautiful, is it not? For those of us that like technology and its sexy design, Marklin hit the ball out of the part (as we say in the states).
Marklin is not alone. Roco, while somewhat 'toy-like' in appearances, at least avoids looking like nuclear power plant testing equipment. Viessmann's Commander and ESU's Ecos also do a great job of making the appearance of their systems attempt to communicate something about the capabilities of their product in a way that is contemporary and stylish.
There certainly are some other companies whose products almost make it, I am thinking of the Hornby Elite and Lenz systems, which, only look about 10 years out of date versus the Digitrax, MRC, and NCE systems.
In sum, this post is really about my frustration with the offerings that are available. Despite their competency, I can't seriously consider any of the above products. Is that shallow? Maybe. I am considering the products that I mentioned have design elements that appeal to my sensibilities.
I hope this post resonates with others in this hobby. Again, its not a criticism of the systems themselves, but it is a call for our US (and other?) manufacturers to not be as lazy when it comes to the hobby. After all, the benefits of products and systems with more mass appeal are obvious to anyone in this hobby.