I read your recent articles on products that do not work and companies that do not seem to care, and agreed with readers' suggestions that as consumers we should publicise those products/companies, so as to (hopefully) improve the situation. At the time I had good intentions to write in to alert people to a problematic device, but as is often the way got side-tracked. However, the last few issues of PC Week have carried full-page advertisements for this device, and this has left me riled.
The product in question is the Panasonic PD drive. This is a single internal or external drive whose vendor claims it is able to read CDs and also read/write optical disks. This drive was chosen by my current employer after an evaluation exercise, as it could be used to increase disk space and backup hard disks, as well as be used for accessing CDs.
In the early stages, we found the drive to be reliable and perform at adequate speed ... until we tried to use CDs we had cut in-house with a CD-Writer. At this time we found that although CDs we had written in-house could be read by any of the CD-ROM drives, they could not be read by any of the Panasonic LF-1000 PD drives.
At this point we thought that there may be a hardware problem, or that a firmware upgrade may be required. We sent one of our LF-1000 drives and one of our in-house produced CDs to Panasonic's UK maintenance department (which is in fact a third-party company). They verified that the drive had no problems and also that the CD failed to work on their own Panasonic PD drives. They kept quoting the fact that "the drive works within its published tolerances and specifications". I kept quoting the fact that it couldn't read CDs that could be read by every other CD drive, and even a later revision of the PD drive. They suggested I spoke to Panasonic.
I spoke to one of Panasonic's technical people. I explained the fact that the LF-1000 drives did not work, but that other CD drives and the LF-1195 drive did work. Again, I was told that "the drive works within its published tolerances and specifications". "Yes, but it doesn't read CDs ...", I replied.
At this time I suggested that if Panasonic would change the few LF-1000 drives we had bought for LF-1195 drives, we would be perfectly happy, and we'd even pay the excess if the newer drive was more expensive. "We can't do that", came the response, "you'll have to try that approach with the reseller who sold them to you."
The reseller was Computacenter which said that it would happily exchange or offer a refund on the devices so long as Panasonic would admit that there was a problem with the drives, in writing.
Panasonic's technical person said that he was not authorised to make such a statement. Eventually he agreed to get the Panasonic product manager to contact me - needless to say we never heard back.
Lack of products on-line
I've just read with interest the article on Barclays re-launching Barclaysquare and the comments regarding the level of trade the site has generated in the past.
Could I perhaps put forward an explanation? In the past most, if not all, of the vendors on Barclaysquare only made available a tiny proportion of their products via this facility. I recall a number of occasions when I wanted to purchase gifts from the vendors on Barclaysquare and being disappointed at the lack of product lines to choose from. I then had to go along to one of their real stores to make the purchase.
The companies that really know what they are doing make available their whole product line on-line.
I'm sure if you ask Tesco (www.tesco.com), Computer Manuals (www.compman.co.uk) or Special Reserve (special.reserve.co.uk), among others, how pleased they are with on-line sales they will all give glowing reports.
Let's hope Barclaysquare and their trial vendors take note.
Cracking up over Psion
I'd like to inform you of some experience I had with the new Psion S5 computers.
I liked this machine very much from the first moment I read about it on the web. So I bought two of them - one for myself and one for my colleague.
Now my friend's Psion is a set of two cracked separate parts, and mine has about five big cracks on it and will fall apart in a few days I suppose.
I used it very carefully, not the way the portable palmtop computer should be used. I'm absolutely sure, that this is a bad design, the plastic is too weak for the forces it struggles with.
The idea with the keyboard was great, but its embodiment was pure. I'm absolutely sure, that if I change the unit to a new one, it will crack also. The two units became unusable in one month. What's the use of such a thing? What if your car falls apart after a month of careful driving?
If I had a digital camera I could send you a picture of my poor Psions.
Voice of reason
Your article on data voice integration (PC Week 16 September) implies that this is some fancy new technology that companies may take advantage of in the next few years.
While I agree that unified voice and data is the future of communications - the good news is that it is already here and organisations are already reaping the benefit.
One Micom customer, a leading bank in the US, has reduced communications costs by over 70% following the installation of a voice over IP solution.
That doesn't support the view that convergence will take several years to come to fruition.
Some IT/telecoms managers may still need to be convinced the benefits outweigh costs, but real case studies offer clear evidence that integration is cost-effective. The savings the above bank will make will pay for the hardware investment in one year.
We can provide hard evidence that is backed up with analysts supporting the view that staggering cost savings can be achieved. The culture shock associated with combing telecommunications and IT is only due to a lack of awareness.
Got a gripe, then don't delay, get your pen out and write today send all your correspondence to:
- The Editor, PC Week, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London, W1A 2HG. or on the Net at http//www.pcweek.vnu.co.uk or Email [email protected]
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