lovehate: The Eigenharp - Tapping, Strumming, Blowing!

At a cost of 4000 pounds ($6400 US) the Eigenharp is a musical behemoth is appropriately synthesized and touch responsive. It's got pressure-sensitive keys all over the place and ribbon controllers along with drum pads and other assorted noise makers that can be controlled through tapping, strumming or blowing.

Let me preface my quick review, admittedly based on the thin sample of the video at the above link, with the fact that I've been a piano player since age five, a guitar player since age twelve, and a sax player since age thirteen. This thing looks like a giant clusterfrak of a musical instrument surgery gone wrong.

I played synthesizers for years and while I originally loved the concept of the emulation that a synth provided, especially in its samples of other instruments, I grew to despise synths for trying to simulate organic sounds. I don't mind synths pulling off a fat square wave or a edgy sine swoop, but I now bristle at the sounds of sax or guitar coming out.

I understand that, in some cases, cost may be prohibitive for a young musician trying to express creativity. This overblown Casio beatbox funmaker is certainly a musical instrument, certainly requires talent, certainly facilitates a specific type of expression. If I can afford this thing, I could also certainly afford a saxophone, a grand piano, a bassoon, a guitar or a drum kit.

It's said that one of the reasons the creators conceived of such an instrument was to cut down on the massive amounts of gear they'd have to bring out to each show in order to play... here's an idea - buy a guitar and a pick and hit the local coffeeshop! I'd much rather hear a lone sax player who knows how to play sax, than a lone eigenharp player who knows how to play a sax sound on his eigenharp.

I'm sure there will be some people who love this and claim I'm some sort of musical Luddite for chastising what some news outlets will report as the future of musical instruments. Another thought from the linked article is that it looks like something from the Star Wars cantina scene. I suppose I would've happier if this was left a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Kudos to the creators for living their dream in executing the creation of this mutation. Their determination must have been dogged to complete the project. For 6000 bucks, however, I'd rather buy a new piano that sounds like [GASP] a piano.

lovehate: Macolytes Drool for The Apple Strudle... I mean Tablet

Is everyone heading down to the Great Outdoor Sports Equipment Supply Depot to get their backpacks ready for a three week stint in a line outside their neighborhood Apple Store to wait for the new iTablet? Have you borrowed your sci-fi geek friend's Dune-inspired Fremen suit so that you can filter your own urine and sweat and not give up your spot in line? Why are people so excited for a fragile 11" piece of vaporware?

I just don't get it. I do have issues which make me question why I would EVER want one of these rumored devices and, by extension, why anyone else would.

First Issue: iPhone OS - I can't imagine having a big screen version that merely echoes the functionality of an iPhone. The iPhone OS is neat, but if this device is going to replace a netbook, I have the feeling people will want to run more than one application at a time. Notice how the iPhone commercials never say "there are Apps for that." To promote this as a slogan would imply that you could run "apps" and not "app". A tablet will HAVE to get a better version of the iPhone OS if it's going to be used for anything useful whatsoever.

Second Issue: form factor - Why on earth would I lug around an 11" version of an iPhone/Touch. The iPhone fits in my pocket. I would have to buy some sort of European carryall to accommodate this funky new device to do the same things I do with a pocket-sized gadget. And while I admit that I sometimes wish I had a bigger keyboard on my iPod Touch, larger screen buttons won't convince me to switch. In addition, think of one of the most popular additions to the iPhone 3GS: video. Picture yourself holding an 11" slab up in front of your face to take a picture or shoot a video. And I can't foresee holding this up to my head to answer a phonecall.

Third Issue: price - A high GB iPhone, without a subsidy from a mobile provider, can cost upwards of $699. A 10" screen tablet would have to cost, being generously frugal, between $1000-$1200. Assuming there's Bluetooth with the new device, a funky iEar could be packaged with the device in order to allow a mobile subsidy to apply. Maybe a $100 belt clip could be sold as an accessory and it would look like you had a digital picture frame hanging from your waist. I have a tough time justifying a $300-$500 netbook when I can buy a full laptop for between $500-$600. Apple never does things on the cheap, and I can imagine this might the most expensive Strudel... I mean Tablet... on the block.

If a netbook was originally meant for someone who didn't need a laptop, but wanted to stay connected to the net in a slightly larger form factor, who will the tablet be for - someone who really doesn't need an Macbook but wants to stay connected? Because from what I can see, the Macolytes who would buy the tablet would also own the Macbook Air and Apple TV and the iPhone and a black turtleneck and a polished aluminum MacMini with an etching of Steve Jobs profile. The iStrudel doesn't replace anything except cash from your wallet with air.

thinglets: Three Eggs Cost... 100 Billion Dollars

In a grand case of inflation in Zimbabwe going crazy over the past couple of years, the pic above is a clear example of how our childhood notions of just printing more money doesn't work too well. At what point does it just make sense to have 100 billion = 1 and start from scratch again?

I guess you can't put all of your eggs in one basket... well you could, but the basket costs 850 billion dollars. Where's a Dr. Evil voice when you need it?