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When Technology Gets Worse

This is nothing to do with libertarianism, or only a bit. More, railing against How The World Is, that kind of thing.

My life has been in slow-motion-disaster mode for some time now, and that’s getting a bit tiresome, but a couple weeks ago the icing on the cake happened. My last CRT monitor stopped working; a gorgeous Compaq P1220 22″ monster. I was cooking dinner, decided to watch the second episode of Terra Nova, switched resolutions down to 1280×960 (my normal resolution is a whopping 1920×1440) and bang. Or rather, sort of, sizzle; the new resolution held for a couple of seconds, then started fizzing, then the screen went black.

So, I had a few minutes of, it’s just a glitch, something simple, maybe the cable, hoping against hope, but no, dead as a dodo. Nothing but a sadly blinking amber LED under the lifeless void.

So, this was my last one. I’d bought it as a backup, when my previous one, an equally huge Samsung 1100DF, was still working. The Samsung had died in May. half way through that shitty Doctor Who episode with the pirates; in that case the display suddenly shrank down to about an inch wide, and for a few seconds I thought it was some kind of special effect in the Doctor Who story. Nope.

There seems to be some kind of link here between watching TV shows and monitor failures. If I were a pressure group, I’d release a report saying that crap TV ruins monitors, and demand that the government Do Something About It.

So, these days, CRTs are old technology, and it’s virtually impossible to find anyone who will or can fix them. The Samsung service centre in Kettering want to charge me £45 just to look at it and say they can’t get the parts. The Compaq is in a local repair shop. The guy found the HOT transistor blown, replaced it, still doesn’t work, said he didn’t know what was wrong, so I found the service manual for him online and he said he’d have another go. But I suspect he’s following a strategy of just leaving it for a few days, then phoning back to say he still can’t fix it.

So I’m typing this on an ancient Taxan 15″, which was my last “backup” and came from my Mum’s PC. It’s tiny. It’s like 1998 all over again.

As you might have guessed, I like CRT monitors. I like them because they are better than LCD monitors. By the time they stopped making them, they had reached a pinnacle of picture technology at a very reasonable price and then BAM they fell off the market. Why? Why did we switch to the inferior in almost every respect LCD?

You see, it matters to me because I do serious graphics. I draw my comics on the computer. I don’t scan paper drawings, I do the drawings in photoshop. So screen real estate really matters, because the higher the resolution the more of the drawing I can see on screen. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at the advantages of LCD.

They’re thin.

They’re light.

They use less power.

Er, that’s it, as Private Eye would say.

Thinness is pretty pointless. My desk is a normal office desk with normal depth. It has ample room for a CRT at the right distance from my face on it. I haven’t seen anyone walking around sawing two feet off office desks, so it can’t be that that makes LCDs so popular. You can’t put it at the back of the desk because then it’s too far away. If you pull it forwards, what are you going to use the space behind it for? Pot plants? Statue of the aquabuddha? Cat basket? No, that’s no advantage, is it?

Lightness? I pick up a monitor twice; once to carry it in and put it on the desk, once to carry it out with funereal music playing. Yes, that’s about six minutes of my life carrying something heavy, but hardly compelling either is it?

Power consumption. Okay, I’ll buy that. It’s significant in an office building. Even in a home, it’s of some significance. But 140W for a biggie CRT still isn’t breaking the bank, it’s less than three of those shitty halogens you put fifteen of in your kitchen because you think it’s fashionable to patter around in spotlights while you’re chopping your veg.

So, that’s it. What’s worse about an LCD than a CRT? Everything else! The picture is inferior. The color gamut is much smaller. Many of them can’t even do 8 bit/channel colour and dither it down to a palette! The response time is slower (this is significant if you’re whizzing a tiny little “pencil” cursor round in Photoshop and the fucker keeps disappearing if you don’t go sloooooooooow). The colours all change if you move your head around, so you need a clamp on the headrest of your chair like you’re a spinal injury patient. The contrast ration is dismal. In the world of LCD, there is no black and white, only shades of grey. And it only looks good at the “native” resolution- CRTs can change resolutions, even if it blows them up all the time, haha, not so LCDs. Worst of all, the resolutions are painfully low. We have positively retrogressed.

Back in the CRT days, we all hungered for higher resolutions. We would say in the pub, “What are you driving Bob?” and Bob would say, “Sony at 1600×1200″ and then you take a smug sup of your pint and say, “Ah, I’ve got a Samsung at 1920×1440″ and Bob would look abashed. Not now. All the panels are this stupid widescreen format, like widescreen televisions, and without spending an arm and a leg your vertical resolution is 1080 pixels. That’s fucking pathetic. It’s the equivalent of a CRT at 1280×1024, which was de rigeur back in, er, 1998.

All the way back at Xerox PARC, the inventors of the GUI, they recognised that people read vertical documents. Books are vertical, comics are vertical. The Xerox Alto PC actually had a vertical screen! Sadly, that never caught on. Nonetheless, that vertical resolution is important. The lower it is, even just reading web pages, the more you have to scroll. And, from an artist’s perspective, most people are generally vertical, even in “adult” comics. So, if I get one of these shitty blurry “state of the art” LCDs, well, I can watch Doctor Who in widescreen, *small yay* but for work I’m literally pushed back over a decade.

I don’t understand why everyone swapped over to LCDs. It’s not as if they’re cheaper. In terms of quality-per-buck, they’re extortionate. I guess the simple answer is, they’re “good enough” for most mundane computer use in the same way that a Morris Minor is actually “good enough” for most mundane car journeys, just so long as you don’t mind the uncomfortable seats and the strange grinding noise when you change gear. You can check your GoogleMail by Twitter on your Facebook, or whatever it is twats do, on an LCD. But if you want decent colour rendering, or a gaming experience where panning doesn’t descend into a blurred mess, or to see more than a third of a PDF at once, you’re stuffed. I honestly wonder if people just think they’re cool because “flat screens” were one of those futuristic things in 1970, like food pills and jet packs and Space Stations, and in the absence of the others people are clinging to the one bit of the future that came true. Or, maybe people just wanted something you can tuck under your arm and run down the street with during a riot. I dunno.

Well, sigh. Nothing I can do. CRTs are getting harder and harder to source- at least, good ones whose screens aren’t very tired from years of use- and harder and harder to get repaired. It just makes me very sad that we’ve abandoned a better technology for a worse one, for no apparent reason. People like myself- who needed a good quality display on a budget- benefitted perhaps from the technology being driven to a point where it was far better than the masses needed. But we’ve gone from professional quality for 150 quid, to shit for more than 150 quid, which means I suspect that somebody is laughing all the way to the bank. It certainly isn’t me.

And at this point, I stop typing, and lean back, and am once again reminded that a more than a decade old Taxan monitor we bought for a song for our Mum has a better display than the State Of The Art. And a tear rolls down my cheek.

38 Comments

  1. Laird says:

    Ah-HA! You ARE still watching Terra Nova, after all those vile things you said about the pilot a few weeks ago.

    And if you really want a CRT monitor go down to the nearest charity shop. They’re giving them away.

  2. Lynne says:

    Commiserations on your loss, Ian.

    I have a confession to make. I have a twin flat screen set up (which I love but then I only dabble with PS and Illustrator as a hobby so resolution isn’t as important to me as it is to you) and kitchen halogens (which I hate).

    I’m afraid I’m an incurable when it comes to size and convenience. My old monitor used to take up half the desk leaving little space for my scanner and graphics tablet. My son was quite pleased however, he got the big beastie which he’s still using (big WoW gamer).

  3. CountingCats says:

    I got a couple of Samtrons, you can have them if you want to come pick them up…….

  4. right_writes says:

    I agree that CRT’s were better and faster and everything else…

    However, if you want to get close, try a professional monitor from NEC, Eizo or LaCie…

    Some of them turn to vertical, and they can be set up with one of those gamut doobries and they do go black when you tell them to.

    As for speed, they are getting better all the time and angle of view is much improved… Apple, NEC, Eizo and LaCie use IPS switching which helps a lot.

  5. Andrew Duffin says:

    “…You can check your GoogleMail by Twitter on your Facebook, or whatever it is twats do…”

    Ha.

    This is the nub of your rant: you’re turning into a grumpy old git.

    Whatever it is that young people have and do these days, you don’t understand it, you don’t want to understand it; you just want things as they were back in the good old days.

    You have an Amstrad PC1640 in your loft, don’t you? And that was good enough for all things you really need to do, wasn’t it?

    Go on, admit it.

  6. JuliaM says:

    Charity shop, or bootsale!

  7. JuliaM says:

    “They’re light.”

    Never underestimate the desirability of this. I’ve still got the old-style monitor from my last-but-one-PC change stuck in the study because I’d need a trolly to get the thing down the stairs! And then what do you do with it? The council will only pick it up if you call them in advance…

    “I honestly wonder if people just think they’re cool because “flat screens” were one of those futuristic things in 1970…”

    Good point, actually! I somertimes wonder the same thing about the current craze for tablet computers (though I adore my iPad).

  8. APL says:

    “They’re light.”

    too they’re not as hot, don’t collect three inches of dust in about six days, don’t make huge ‘whomping’ noises when turned on.

    And yes, my Samsung is acceptable for the stuff I do on computers but then high resolution graphic isn’t one of those things.

  9. NickM says:

    Andrew,
    An Amstrad PC1640 was never good for anything. Weren’t they woefully non-standard with a PSU in the monitor? Now for real nostalgia you want an Amstrad PCW8256. Green screen, CP/M weird cursor key layout, 3″ disks nobody else used, Locoscript and that printer. Slow? There were monks on Lindisfarne that could turn out a page quicker and of course it was single sheet and the noise was like being in an oil drum whilst Thor banged it with Mjölnir. I hate that bastard Sugar with a passion.

    Monitors…
    Ian, I really think you need to look at some of the better, newer LCDs. They are much faster, brighter, higher contrast and well, my 32″ Samsung TV has a 179 degree viewing angle. Yes, there are (were?) some some terrible panels out there but they are much improved. Personally I don’t think you can beat CRT for some things – movies, photos, games but I prefer LCD for text and similar. So you surprise me. I’ve seen your art and it’s very graphic (in every sense) so personally I suspect I’d rather do that using a high-end LCD than a CRT.

    Anyway, you’re all missing the point on weight. Ian says it doesn’t matter because you carry it twice. No, it isn’t a major issue for the end-user but for the manufacturer, the whole-saler, the retailer mass and bulk matter. That’s the real driver towards LCD that and as Ian notes the whole futurity thing.

    Ian, a 15″ Taxan – that’s like being the computational living dead. I have a veritable elephant’s graveyard of CRTs but none that matches your needs – my 19″ AOC comes closest but that isn’t even properly FST. I can’t give the fuckers away. Actually I tell a lie. I have two that match your needs but I’m using them – 21″ Dell badged Sony Trinnies – yup there is 70kgs of monitors on this desk – They’re black as is the keyboard and mouse so the overall effect is very “flight deck of the Death Star”. One of them the colour is a bit wonky but it was very cheap. Moving it mind… I had to unpack it on the street because the box wouldn’t fit the door.

    I’m sure you can get a quality big screen CRT somewhere. Your problem with, say eBay, is shipping (see what I mean about size and weight) because it wouldn’t surprise me if you wound-up paying more in transport costs than the cost of the item. I’d steer clear of Julia’s idea of boot sales but computer fairs might be a happier hunting ground.

    Anyway, a question. I desired a trio of monitors (for the real death star look – I note Sir Terry Pratchett has 6 panels in his office but that just makes him look like a banker). But you can’t place CRTs that close together or they interfere with each other. I suspect this is not the case with LCDs but I’ve never tried?

    And a bit of advice. If your CRT goes south don’t for the love of God open it up and bugger about with it yourself. Even when unplugged they can store charges which will leave very little of you but a rug-burn. This is not aimed at Ian who is a trained electrician so knows better.

    Oh, reminds me. Ian, know anything about building Tesla coils?

  10. The Apiarist says:

    I have the same views re: flat-screen TVS. I’m just hoping my Trinitron keeps going for a while longer as I can’t bear to watch LED TV.

  11. View from the Solent says:

    Good news for you, Ian. The EU have broken up the CRT maker’s cartel.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/20/glass_cartel/

  12. John Galt says:

    Good news for you, Ian. The EU have broken up the CRT maker’s cartel.

    No shit. When are they going to break up the Buggy Whip maker’s cartel? Those thieving bastards have had it too good for too long (roughly 1430 – 1904).

    ‘Kinnell!

  13. Ian B says:

    Laird-

    Ah-HA! You ARE still watching Terra Nova, after all those vile things you said about the pilot a few weeks ago.

    I thought I’d give it one more chance. Which as explained turned out to be a very bad idea indeed. I did in the end try to watch it on this monitor but it was so awful I had to give up after ten minutes. The pervasive feeling of “middle class family on a wilderness trek” makes the whole thing absurd.

    Lynne-

    ’m afraid I’m an incurable when it comes to size and convenience. My old monitor used to take up half the desk leaving little space for my scanner and graphics tablet.

    Well, my Wacom is off to one side of the keyboard. I can’t imagine putting it (or a scanner) in the dead space behind a flat screen…

    Right_writes-

    However, if you want to get close, try a professional monitor from NEC, Eizo or LaCie…

    LaCie want 1100 quid for a monitor which has a color gamut inferior to a bog-standard £150 CRT from six years ago (when I bought the Samsung) and is a lousy 1200 pixels vertically. I rest my case, really I do. It’s like the motorbike manufacturers suddenly withdrew all the real bikes and insist everyone ride 50cc mopeds because they’re smaller and use less fuel, but now also cost more than a Harley.

    Andrew Duffin-

    Whatever it is that young people have and do these days, you don’t understand it, you don’t want to understand it; you just want things as they were back in the good old days.

    Well, maybe to an extent, but I don’t think so. I generally like new technologies. I never had an Amstrad but did have Spectrum, and I feel eternally grateful that things moved on from there. This just isn’t a forward step to me; lower specs, higher price. I mean, a Spectrum is smaller and lighter and uses less power than a modern PC, but those aren’t really the essential criteria, are they?

    But yes, I must admit to being baffled at what most people spend all day doing on their computers, all this Twittering and Facebookery and whatnot. I got a Facebook account at one point and had no idea what to do with it. So far as I can see, a PC is for drawing, general office stuff, and arguing with people you don’t know. And games, if that’s your thing. What a Facebook is for, I simply have no idea.

    Julia-

    I’ve still got the old-style monitor from my last-but-one-PC change stuck in the study because I’d need a trolly to get the thing down the stairs! And then what do you do with it? The council will only pick it up if you call them in advance…

    My washing machine weighs a lot and is hard to dispose of too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going back to a washboard and soap flakes :)

    Nick-

    I’ve seen your art and it’s very graphic (in every sense) so personally I suspect I’d rather do that using a high-end LCD than a CRT.

    Don’t understand what you mean here, I said why the CRT is much better in the article. It’s like, to make a song that sounds good on a tinny portable radio, you need a professional studio with good speakers to record it on. You can’t record it with tinny radio speakers. Likewise, while it may be bearable to look at a picture on a shitty LCD, it’s quite different trying to produce on on it, especially if you’re working with tiddly virtual “pencils”.

    Anyway, you’re all missing the point on weight. Ian says it doesn’t matter because you carry it twice. No, it isn’t a major issue for the end-user but for the manufacturer, the whole-saler, the retailer mass and bulk matter. That’s the real driver towards LCD that and as Ian notes the whole futurity thing.

    Somehow the manufacturers were managing to build and deliver these things for under 200 notes a few years ago. Washing machines are fucking heavy too, but see above about washboards.

    The futurity thing is probably significant. Also, Hollywood went “widescreen” specifically as a spoiler to the new television industry, you had to go to a cinema to see a new wide movie properly. That sort of lodged into the public consciousness as “wide==better” and now we’ve ended up with computer monitors shaped like movie screens (to a lesser degree) as a consequence, rather than being the best shape for working on.

    What is needed is higher dots-per-inch, not bigger screens anyway. I don’t want a 48″ computer monitor. I want a 24″ one with 300dpi. The whole technology is moving in the opposite direction to how it should, and that’s weird. Office workers don’t (or aren’t supposed to anyway) be watching widescreen movies. Why are we trying to converge entertainment displays and working displays? They have different requirements. It wouldn’t be so bad if LCD actually gave a better entertainment picture than CRT, but it’s even worse for that!

    View From The Solent-

    Good news for you, Ian. The EU have broken up the CRT maker’s cartel.

    Ah, god bless ‘em. Especially ironic as this “cartel” was producing cheaper and cheaper and better and better CRTs until a few years ago. If they want to investigate cartels, they might look at whether the switch to shitty LCDs was a cartel decision. It happened surprisingly quickly and uniformly. Competititon had driven the CRT price down- did they all decide to force us onto LCD so we could be made to pay more for the “state of the art” technology?

    Of course, the EU wouldn’t do that, because *sigh* LCDs are “greener”; which I strongly suspect is the other stirring stick in this bucket of poo.

  14. NickM says:

    Ian,
    I made my point as *my* point. Now obviously you do your stuff as you do it but I was surprised that graphic art (drawn rather than painted) works better on CRT than LCD. I do know a thing or two about piccies and whilst I’m absolutely with you on movie/games/photos comics seem to have a bit more in common with text in terms of things like contrast and colour saturation being less important than clarity. Just saying I’m surprised is all.

  15. Ian B says:

    Nick, comics stopped being flat colour about 15 years ago, right around when everyone stopped doing four-colour rubylith separations and started using Photoshop :)

  16. RAB says:

    This thread has clipped on a bit since I have been out walking the bonkers dog, hasn’t it?

    Try Freecycle Ian. We have had lots of groovy stuff for nothing off there, it’s amazing what people give away. A few digi-boxes for the CRT portables in the bedroom and kitchen, and a 17″ flat screen monitor.

    Our last monitor (and still going strong) was a LaCie 19″ CRT. Brilliant picture on it. But the wife bought a Samsung 22″ SyncMaster last xmas, so we have swopped over to that. I can’t see much wrong with it. Personal pics are very sharp and BBC iPlayer is so good that I can see blackheads in close ups, but the ITV player is much less good for some reason.

    Now then, questions from a complete computer illiterate. People have been mentioning having twin screens running. Presumably this means one screen is showing an iPlayer video or something and the other a site like CCIZ and you being able to read and post on it at the same time, otherwise I don’t see the point. So how the fuck do you do it? Connect it up I mean, and switch easily between the two? It needs to be… well you stick this plug in there then you stick the other end in here sort of thing for me to understand.

    Second Graphic Tablets. I almost got an i Pad a while back because I am very taken with the paint app that Hockney uses, but baulked at it thinking… well £500 notes is a bit much for something that doesn’t do any more than my existing laptop does. So can someone suggest a good graphics Tablet ? are they portable, and can I use them in a field or the street or do they always need to be tied to a computer?

  17. Ian B says:

    I just had a look at my local Freecycle website thing, and it seemed to be all baby clothes and “chair, one leg missing” type stuff, but that’s Northampton for you.

    Dual displays? You need a graphics card with dual outputs, or two graphics cards that can work together.

    Graphics tablets; we’re talking two different things here. An iPad is a tablet computer, a screen with a computer built in. A graphics tablet like what I use is an input device. I have a display on a normal monitor (or I do when one of the fuckers is actually working) and the tablet sits on my desk, and I interact with it with a pen-like stylus. One of these.

    I don’t really understand what these youngsters do all day on their iPads as I said, Twitter on their Facebook or something, I don’t see how you can use it for the essential Global Argument Function of the internets without a keyboard, maybe you just give each other the finger by webcam or something, I’ve no idea really. I was waiting in the casualty department of my local hospital a few months ago and a child sitting opposite me had one, and every time her mother looked away, she tried to eat it. But that’s Northampton folk for you.

  18. RAB says:

    Ah yes, Northampton. My commiserations, Paul has told me much about it. Location Location Location innit? Our Freecycle is a veritable Aladdin’s cave. Even the Charity shops are amazing in Bristol. The wife went into one in Clifton a few years ago (very well heeled area) and came out with a leather jacket for me for a tenner. It was hand made Italian soft kid leather, must have retailed for hundreds. Just gobsmacking what folks give away.

    Thanks for the info. Which Wacom would you recommend for moi then, given that I am mainly a pencil pen an ink sketch man with real pens and paper to hand? I’d like to get into colour more though. I can afford the top of the range, but will I be wasting my time and money with that level of sophistication, given that I am not about to use the rig professionally, but for my own amusement and recreation. Basically what do I get for the £60 jobby (tight git that I am) and will the results be credible?

    Barry is on the box right now by the way, making a speech about the death of Gaddafi as if the twat had anything whatsoever to do with it .

  19. Ed P says:

    Recent LED-backlit screens have very good colour balance and are much faster than the ones you describe. This is similar to those moans you used to hear about CDs not sounding like LPs, or MP3s not sounding like CDs (repeat ad finitum).
    Not sitting in front of an electron gun firing straight towards you, which produces low-level X-rays at higher brightnesses, is surely an improvement.

  20. Ian B says:

    Ed, this is nothing like those moans at all. CDs had better measurable specs than LPs. The point of the post, if there is one, is that we moved from an excellent mature technology to an inferior one. The fact that some top-end LCD screens can approach the quality of a CRT, but still not equal it, if you don’t mind the useless resolution on them, is not really a good argument. It’s just a “not as bad as you think” argument not an “actually good” argument.

    As to X-rays. Sheesh. What are these X-rays supposedly doing? Have we all got face cancer? No, we haven’t.

    RAB, I’m not sure which Wacom to recommend. I use an Intuos, because I’m a pro or whatever lol, but I think the Bamboo series are perfectly good. My preferred size is A4, but many people prefer the smaller range of motion on an A5. I’d be inclined to get a fairly cheap one and if you like it you can always upgrade later.

    Also, do bear in mind that it takes a bit of getting used to, a few days of acclimatisation.

  21. NickM says:

    RAB,
    60 quid will really get you buggereth all in the way of a graphics tablet. I see ‘em as an either/or. You pay beaucoup or get off the pot. I dunno. It might suit you but it’s a tryer. If I’m honest and that’s your budget then I’d say get a really good mouse. Cost you half that and it makes a difference. Anyway what happened to your LaCie because I think I know someone who might find it useful.

    Ian,
    You ought to try it round here (up Norf). I swear there was an advert for a slightly damaged sledge-hammer recently. And my wife (who is originally from this neck of the woods) recalls in her yoof seeing the immortal ad in the Buxton Advertiser, “One Manx cat, no tail”.

    And yeah, joy of joys they got that cunt Gadaffi hiding like a rat in a storm drain. Nothing befitted that fucker quite like his mode of departure from this mortal coil.

  22. Ian B says:

    Nick, with all due respect, you can no more draw with a really good mouse than you can clean your teeth with a really good broom. The whole point of a tablet is it acts like a pencil and paper, not like pushing a mouse around. Pressure senstitive, 1:1 mapping, etc etc.

    Gadaffi’s dead? Does this mean they’re going to find him again in ten years time then cremate him at sea?

  23. RAB says:

    Well thanks muchly again chaps. Maybe I’ll start with the Bamboo Ian and see how it goes. Yes Ian, you are a professional, and a bloody good one at that, and Nick has nudged my addled braincells, so you are certainly welcome to the LaCie if there is any way to conveniently get it to you, or for you pick it up, free of charge. After all, it was given to me by a friend who was upgrading, when I got online with my first Dell. I couldn’t believe the fuckin difference in quality between the the LaCie and the one that came with the rig.

    It’s sat in the study feeling lonely and sad, but it’s going to need Geoff Capes to get the sucker down three flights of stairs (see fridges above) :-)

  24. Ian B says:

    RAB, if you’re serious about the LaCie, I might well take you up on that. At the moment I’m fucking kicking myself, there was one on ebay right here in Northampton last week, but I didn’t bid because I thought TV Repairman was going to fix the Compaq, but I’m increasingly losing hope on that. I take it the tube isn’t all old and blurry, and the black is still black and so on?

  25. RAB says:

    Course I’m serious. Cats of a feather and all that. You have my email address, we’ll sort something out.

  26. RAB says:

    Ps, yes well sharp and black as a well known orifice in India.

  27. Bod says:

    Ye gods, this is a timely discussion.
    I’ve got a Genuis tablet, which is frankly, pretty crappy. Bought it for shits and giggles a year ago, and it’s done useful service, but really, compared with some tablets I’ve played with, it’s crud.

    So, thinks I a few days ago, I think I’d like to do some drawing (maps, schematics and doodles rather than full color design stuff. Dug out the tablet, and I’d broken it – how conveeeenient!

    So, a question for Ian (primarily) – given that the stuff I do is basically freehand monochrome do you think the Wacom Inkling is going to be a waste of time and effort, or should I spring for a mid-sized Bamboo or Intuos?

  28. Ian B says:

    RAB, depending on how the Compaq pans out, I’ll probably be in touch about the LaCie, then :)

    Bod, I don’t really know how to answer you. I’ve only used the “professional” Wacoms; I’ve currently got an Intuos 3, before that I had an Artpad II, which was also great but eventually died :(

    I hadn’t heard of the Inkling; I just had a look at it. From my own personal viewpoint, it seems kind of redundant, the drawing on paper bit of it. As far as I can see, at some point you’ve got a half-fiished pen drawing, and I can’t see the point of that. It’s not like what the Inkling records is going to be the same as the drawing, since it’s digital data rather than the pen marks themselves. I’d be inclined to just get an Intuos and draw into an application like Photoshop myself, but I may be wrong; maybe there’s some benefit to the Inkling in terms of workflow that I’m not understanding.

    But then, one of my primary reasons for being 100% digital is that I can infinitely rub things out so for people who are confident with a pen, maybe it has some benefit. But me, I’d get an Intuos.

  29. Tim Newman says:

    “Thinness is pretty pointless. My desk is a normal office desk with normal depth. It has ample room for a CRT at the right distance from my face on it. I haven’t seen anyone walking around sawing two feet off office desks, so it can’t be that that makes LCDs so popular. ”

    Not been in a Korean engineering office, have you? :)

  30. RAB says:

    Well getting back to Ian’s original thesis that “Progress” isn’t nessessarily progress…

    What do we think about Digital Tv and Radio?

    The TV has been relentlessly pushed through by the last Govt because mainly to make mucho moola by selling the Analogue spectrum off. Once the cash was in the bank, they seem to care less about the cost of the actual implimentation, or its efficacy.

    I grew up as part of a family who had the very first telly in our district let alone road. And to get a picture that wasn’t a snowstorm or a vertical hold gone rollover, required one of the family members hanging out of the window gripping the ledge with their teeth and waiving the aerial about so the rest of us could get a half way decent picture for Hancocks Half Hour. Thankfully those days are gone.

    Technology improved and improved to such an extent that we had tv’s in about 4 rooms whether we ever turned them on or not. And they were easy to use. Cheap indoor aerials would be enough to get a good or acceptable picture. Then came Digital.

    Well you had to get a digital box to get a signal didn’t you? at much extra cost for each tv. Then you had to tune it in (and they still seem to have to be retuned every couple of months for some inexpicable reason, known only to the transmitting Co’s) then there was the question of the aerial. Most internals don’t work very well and you can’t connect 5 tellies all over your house to one external aerial without fuckin wires running all over the shop looking ugly can you?

    Next they want to change radio over to digital too, also for much moolah. Well radio in Britain works very well in general, there are still a few blackspots even after almost a hundred years (sheesh!) but generally it’s quite good. The public was not clamouring for change, we were happy enough with what we’ve got. So why change? (well apart from Govt veniality that is).

    It seems that even the Minister in charge is having doubts (only small ones I’m sure, but even so)…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051115/Digital-switchover-problems-Ed-Vaizey-says-radio-service-marred-poor-sound.html

    So why put us all to the expense of chucking out all our radios at a cost of many millions (you can’t convert the old analogue ones to digital like you can with tv’s by adding a box) and my household has at least 7 radios all over the place, just for the hell of it, when they don’t even work as well as the old ones?

    Discuss :-)

  31. Bod says:

    Last foray into OT-ness – yeah, Ian, I see your point.

    I do things like network maps and database schemas as part of my job – the Inkling would be useful for that, I’m sure. Once I get into doing art-art, I’m a charcoals and inks kind of guy, but I think I take your point – to move beyond making mud pies, the whole point is that the art is GOING digital – and once it’s there in digital format, the Inkling’s no use – it’s either a way of getting an almost-done ink drawing into a pixel format, which could then be colored or something like that, or you end up with a half-assed sketch that you need to edit anyway.

    So – thanks – your advice has been valuable enough to push me back to the real thing – Intuos or a Bamboo it is.

  32. Ian B says:

    Well, I’m not much of a broadcast user myself, but particularly radio seems spectacularly pointless to me. I don’t listen to it much, but when I do, the little “transistor radio”, as we used to call them, that me Mum bought me as a prezzie years ago is just the thing.

    I hinted at a conspiracy in the article, and I fear one in this regard too. CRTs by the end were dirt cheap. Fierce competition had driven the quality up and the price down, such that poor buggers like me could afford professional quality monitors. Market “segmentation” had effectively ceased to exist. With the “switchover” to LCD (which as I said, seemed to happen in an eerily cartelish kind of a way) the market could be resegmented into shit for amateurs and ludicrously expensive professional models. A new technology is a good way to jack up the basic cost of a product, and thus profit margins. (In that, you can e.g. make $100 profit on a $1000 thingy, but only $10 on a $100 thingy.

    So maybe that’s it with radios. No more cheap radios, only expensive digital radios with a bigger profit margin.

    But it seems to me that a ubiquitous easily-received sound thingy is extremely useful. Not just for being cheap and cheerful, but in those rare events where a volcano has suddenly erupted in Sutton Cheam, and you need to be able to broadcast the calming voice of Mr Churchill and important public service announcements by trusted public officials, you know, “stay in your homes, do not panic, wrap the dead in binbags and place in the brown wheelie bin for recycling”, that kind of thing.

    You can just see it after the nucular apocalypse, these little isolated pockets of people, wondering if anyone else is out there, and they’ll never know because they don’t have a chip with the compression algorithms on it.

    Really can’t see the point of digital radio, me. Seems totally pointless.

  33. Ian B says:

    As an addendum to the tablet thing, I’ll reiterate that I’m an Intuous user and thus biased in that “only the best will do” kind of a way, but I’ve been looking at the Bamboo again and the way it’s being marketed implies to me that it might be a bit crap, in a sort of “student guitar” kind of a way. On that rather abitrary basis, I’m inclined to recommend an Intuos if either Bod and/or RAB have the dosh.

  34. Kendall says:

    I was a late LCD convert, sticking with a couple of 21″ Sony CRTs until the picture quality started to fade. Can’t say I miss them too much these days though.

    The native resolution and widescreen issues (with 9:16 portrait a bit too vertical) are annoying, but decent 27″/30″ IPS panels @ 2560×1440 or 2560×1600 look pretty good to me. Compared with cheaper TN LCDs they don’t suffer anywhere near as badly from viewing angle and colour issues.

    You can get a no-frills 27″ Hazro monitor (same panel as an Apple Cinema Display) for around £350 inc VAT. In the past I’ve paid more than that for a quality 17″ CRT.

  35. Andrew Duffin says:

    I’m not too bad at Facebook, but I have no idea what an iPad is for, other than showing off that you’ve got one (just like all Apple products then, really!).

    I mean, what can you do that is actually useful, with a thing like that? Read the papers?

  36. Lynne says:

    Ian, my desk is/was small and I had no other surfaces available to me. That’ll change soon but I’ll still be using the flatscreens. Their convenience of use, being able to shift open windows around, is just too beguiling.

    I’d love a Wacom tablet but my meagre skill doesn’t merit shelling out the moolah. So I toddle along with a Genius instead. It’ll get used more now that I’m teaching myself how to use Painter.

  37. JuliaM says:

    “I’m not too bad at Facebook, but I have no idea what an iPad is for, other than showing off that you’ve got one (just like all Apple products then, really!).”

    Watching movies (well, downloaded US tv series,really) for me. That and browsing the web, playing the odd game, checking my email is all I seem to use it for. Still wouldn’t be without it though!

  38. Paul Marks says:

    Ian.

    Terra Nova – yes the bits I have seen (I am a terrible station hopper) give me the same opinion as you.

    As for your life going down the drain…..

    Well mine went down the drain years (decades) ago. That, I suspect, is the nature of life.

    Still if things are really going worse than normal you know where I am (only a few miles away) and if you want to sink a pint (or two) that might be a good idea.

    Although I may not be available in the longer term.

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