Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Tale of Two On/Off Switches

On the left is a baby monitor by Summer. On the right is a speaker by Logitech.

The baby monitor’s on/off switch is integrated with the volume dial. You click on the unit at zero volume, then dial up for higher volume. Thus, every time you turn on the unit, you need to reset the volume. For extra frustration, the dial has no indicator for the volume level.

With a baby monitor, finding the right volume is a delicate balance. You want the volume high enough to hear your child call or otherwise make significant noise. But you don’t want so much volume that you’re hearing ambient noise in the child’s room. It would be so much better to set the right volume once and leave it there.

Enter the Logitech speaker (part of the X-230 three-piece set), which gets this issue right. The power switch and volume knob are separate. When you turn on the unit, the volume is where you left it. This design probably costs slightly more than having a single knob/switch, but it is unremarkably right—that is, so natural you don’t notice it.

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