Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Darling OQO Has a Wart!

Weekend before last, I got to hang with my extended family: Garland; his cousins, who I just met; my friend Gigi (Garland's first wife), her gentleman friend; Addai (Garland's oldest) and his wife, Egem. We'd gotten together in Chicago the night before to see stepdaughter Shani's Broadway debut in The Color Purple.

She was amazing.

Anyway, before I start waxing braggadocios about that girl, let me get back to the piece that's critically important: Addai's OQO US Model 02 (and yes, I've got issues!). As it turns out, Egem, his wife of less than a year, had ordered one for him and he wanted to show it to me. As I held it in my hands and looked at it with shining eyes, he explained how he had it set up to "talk" to his desktop computer at his SOHO...How it was easier to carry and that it was a dream to use...How he'd upgraded the hardware to better serve his needs.

I could hear angels singing. That is, until I tried using the mouse. It was waaay over on the right hand side. No matter what I did, I couldn't easily get my left thumb over there. Forget using my right thumb. I just didn't have the fine motor control (you try using your other hand to mouse over to something before you scratch your noggin and mutter at your screen). Other than the fact that they'd set up the form factor for a right-handed populace, it was perfection itself.

Of, of course, I wrote to the people who'd created the object of my lustful tech affection. Here's what I wrote (with shaking fingers) to the good people at OQO:

I was so excited I was almost giddy when a family member showed me his OQO model 2. I'd been following the OQO's for months and was convinced that I would replace my company laptop with one when it came time.

You can't imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned that the mouse was on the right hand side. I am one of the estimated 8.4 million left-handers on planet Earth (14% in the general population...more when you consider Asian populations or creative professionals which tend to have higher instances of left-handedness than in the general population). Using the trackball mouse was torture. Try switching the mouse buttons on your computer and then putting your mouse on the left. It will take about 30 seconds to see what I mean and, more than likely, you'll use your right hand to use the mouse on the left side. This is what I ended up doing: putting the machine down and using my left hand to use the mouse button. Frustrating and unnecessary.

Nick Merz, your VP of Design should have known better than to design a product that so obviously excludes roughly 14% of the possible market share for this subnotebook market. Please centrally locate the mouseball on the keyboard. I will purchase one immediately.


Now, I don't expect to hear from these good people beyond the automated response and I don't think for a moment that they'll change the button placement after hearing from little ole me. But I can hope.

What's interesting is how we approach offerings like this. They don't come out and say that this product is for right-handed people only. They don't even offer an easy workaround (not even for more money). This kind of thing leaves me wondering: What are we thinking with respect to who our customers are. I don't reckon that OQO decided to make a product that's hard for leftys to use. I think it didn't cross their radar. Also, looking at the people who were doing the product reviews, I noted that they were all right-handed men.

What's this all mean? Heck if I know. I just want one.


Anonymous said...

I'm left-handed. The OQO's right hand bias is one of the reasons why I haven't bought it.

However, I think what you really want (or, at least, what I really want) is for OQO to solve the problem, not implement a specific solution. That is, what I want is for OQO to remove the handedness bias. This is not necessarily the same thing as centrally locating the track stick and buttons.

Looking at the OQO, I don't see how they can implement your solution and maintain their current form factor. If they find some other way of eliminating the bias, I would be all for it. It doesn't have to be to locate the controls in the center.

(e.g. Maybe, in the next iteration, the track stick and the buttons are interchangeable components. Then the user can switch the thumbboard between left-handed and right-handed configurations.)

Lalita said...

What you said is exactly what I would have said (if I weren't pouting and disappointed).

In any event, I'll post whatever response I get from the peeps at OQO.

Jan Peter said...

Hi Latila,
I'm right handed, but some years ago started using the mouse on the left of my keyboard. (daily, 8-10 hours)
I remember the first day was a little uncomfortable. After that no problem.
In your posts i sense a bit of 'i am a lefty and proud of it' mentality. If you could just overcome your stubbornness and invest a little effort into it you too could use the magnificent oqo.

Lalita said...

I love how you mis-typed my name "Latila." Kind of like "Latila the Hun (I'll be sure to tell my husband...he'll be pleased!)."

Jan, with your mouse on the left side, you were able to reach it. What I'm saying is that I don't have the right-handed thumb dexterity you clearly have with your left and couldn't reach the ball with my good thumb for fine motor stuff--my left.

If you have an OQO and are gloating, I would be too.

Thanks for posting, friend. Enjoy!

Oh, yeah. "Lefty and proud of it?" What? Are you joking? Of course, I'm a lefty and proud. What other option is there? "Lefty and dispondent?"