Device Specs

Drew Breunig, “Device Specs Have Become Meaningless”:

How do you measure the Kindle Fire’s and iPhone’s processing speed and storage capacity if the CPUs and disks used to deliver an experience to the user exist both in and outside the device?

According to today’s technology press, you simply ignore these complexities.

The Verge’s feature chart covers price, availability, and hardware specs. Nowhere is there content selection (all devices listed lockdown their content, so this is rather important), cloud services, or perceived speed, which despite being objective is a better indicator of performance for all of these devices.

Spec-based reviews of computers and gadgets are inherently flawed, a relic of an era that’s already gone. Movie reviews are about what the movie is like to watch. Is it enjoyable, is it entertaining, does it look and sound good? Imagine a movie review based on specs, where you gave points for how long it was, whether the photography is in focus, deduct points for continuity errors in the story, and then out comes a number like “7.5/10”, with little to no mention about, you know, whether the movie was effective as a piece of art.

But I wouldn’t argue that specs are “meaningless”. It’s just that they’re an implementation detail. Specs are something the device makers worry about insofar as how they affect the experience of using the device. Just like how focal length and lens aperture are something the cinematographer worries about insofar as how they affect what the viewer will see on screen.

Monday, 14 November 2011