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A Theatre Geek Survey of Gadget Thoughts



MeI’ve been in heavy duty technical rehearsals this week for Wayside Theatre’s annual Christmas show, which accounts for my lack of posting recently. This year we are producing It’s A Wonderful Life: A Life Radio Play, which has proved to be a lot of fun so far. But the reason I’m writing this isn’t about the play. I’m surrounded all day with actors, technicians, and artists as we work to bring the play to life. Although I’m the only Tablet PC guy in the bunch, at various points on breaks I look out into the auditorium and I’ll see 7 to 10 folk with various laptops open working on whatever they are working on. Some, like the lighting and sound designers are doing work for their respective jobs. Some are checking feeds, sports scores, news, email, etc . All seem to be enjoying what they are doing and there are a variety of Macs and PCs afloat in this little sea of worker bees. I’d also classify the majority of this little assemblage as above average when it comes to being tech aware an savvy.

Yesterday during the dinner break for our 10 of 12 (a technical rehearsal where we can work 10 hours out of 12 with a two hour dinner break) I asked several of them about some of this year’s latest gadgets and if any of them had any of these new gadgets on their Christmas list. I asked specifically about the new iPods, Zunes, and the Kindle. I also asked about UMPCs, cellphones, Nokia’s devices and laptop/notebooks/Tablet PCs in general.

With no pretension of scientific polling here, to a person the only devices that had any penetration into any individual’s consciousness was the iPhone and the newer iPod Nano. Intriguingly the iPod Touch didn’t register with anyone. None mentioned any of the other gadgets. When I asked the question, ““Are you interested in the Amazon Kindle?”, I got blank stares back on that one. (All of these folks are heavy users by the way as there is hardly a day that goes by that we don’t have a delivery from Amazon to the theatre.) Every person I talked to had completely dismissed the Zune as a failure from its first iteration and hadn’t heard anything about the newer ones. When I told them that the newer versions were getting some good reports, their responses were very ho-hum.

One device that has penetrated their worlds is the Asus Eee PC. My wife is toting around the Asus Eee PC and most have spent at least a  few minutes looking over her shoulder at the device. But there was no interest from anyone in seeing it in their Christmas stocking. Although no one really spent any quality time with the device, the responses to it where that it ““looked like a toy,” ““was probably not powerful enough,” ““the white case would get too dirty,” and ““without a hard drive, what’s the point.”

Oh, and relating to Tablet PCs and UMPCs? The answers varied a bit, but by and large focused in on one fact. Too expensive.

I don’t think anyone who follows the mobile tech and gadget scene will be in the least surprised by any of this, but it does show once again just how important marketing is. And also, just how important first impressions of a device really are.

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