My Gadget Shop 2.0

Maybe it’s those overly aggressive staff/salespeople, or the horrible layout that makes looking for that single portable hard drive feel like a Herculean task. Whatever the case, walking into a badly run computer store has always been a frustrating experience.

So after a caffeine-induced brainstorming session, I’ve decided to come up with my own list of ideas on what should go into my ideal store.

Store Front
The overall layout will resemble the front end of a Commodore SX-64 computer. The SX-64 was the first “portable” computer systems developed, so it does a lovely job of encapsulating the sort of wares the store sells – portable USB gadgets, laptop parts and accessories, video games, and portable consoles.

The monitor on the left will be where the sliding doors will be located, while the cartridge unit (upper right) will instead feature an LCD TV constantly looping video trailers of the latest portable games and gadgets. Below this (Floppy Drive) will be a display for the store’s latest items.

Store Interior
Once inside, the recurring motif will be the inside of a computer, with dark green floor tiles with dividers and walls inlaid with a circuit pattern. The dividers and racks will resemble circuit boards, while a series of PC kiosks one side will resemble vacuum tubes. Each kiosk will feature a search option for locating any items, indicating their price, and numbers available. As for actual staff…

Sales Staff
Dear staff,

I know you’re just trying to make a living, and that you’re probably just trying to please the boss by making a sale. I understand that, and I appreciate your enthusiasm in making an honest buck. What I do not appreciate is you constantly getting in my face to promote your latest goods.

The best way you can make me feel welcome is by letting me do my business, and making it my initiative to approach you when I have questions. And please, no hyperbole – I’m looking for actual facts on the parts, not something regurgitated from the flyer. Save your sales pitch for customers who’ve never touched a PC before, or the undecideds who aren’t sure about what they’re after. Be gentle.

The staff should be capable of answering questions directly, and preferably will be well-versed in the latest news regarding USB gadgets, consoles, and computers. While I don’t expect them to be complete experts, I’d appreciate it if they’re as interested in these products as I am. It makes it easier for them to relate to a customer to understand what they need.

Imagine walking into the front door, and long first to your right, while slowly panning left: First will be rows of standard USB storage drives and portable hard drives from various manufactures. The racks will be interrupted by a small glass display containing a sample of some of the newer products in the market (i.e. a new 1-TB hard drive from Seagate), while a glass case will feature a similar batch of the latest USB thumb drives.

To the right of this will be the row for the more specialized USB gadgets including toys and accessories, such as emergency chargers for MP3 players. Near the end of the row will be a range where several sample toy USB rockets will be set up with targets, letting visitors try a round or two of target practice.

After this display will be the section for portable computer components. This section will include essentials such as reinforced USB cables, battery packs, and specialized slashproof laptops bags from companies like PacSafe.

To its left will be the gamer’s section. In keeping with the store’s theme, only portable systems will be up for display, with sample units featuring their own kiosks and tethers/power cables. The rows will contain a mix of the newer games and accessories, separated into their corresponding systems. There will also be a small gaming corner available with beanbags, where players who’ve just bought a new system or game can just sit back and relax. Small gamer contests will also be held here to help drum up publicity.

And finally, there’s the cashier, which will be straight ahead from where the entrance is, just past all of these sections. A conventional barcode reader will be available on the register, while the other staff will also feature a portable reader for checking the availability and price of the items customers will inquire about.

Target audience
Overall, the store will cater to males within the 20 to 40 age range, though the gamer’s section will also cover audiences from a wider demographic, most probably those in their early teens to late 20s.

The USB sections will cater mostly to younger crowds, though the USB drives doesn’t really have a demographic, with users being as likely to be on both ends of the age chart. The accessories and toys will generally have a younger audience, and hence will probably feature some of the more inexpensive products in the store.

The portable computer parts will have bear the older age brackets, in that most of the components will emphasize quality and function over novelty. The bags in particular will be a favorite for those in their late 20s to early 30s – the young urban professional crowds.


USB Drives: GL Corps stores your data in blackest night

If you don’t think you need another plastic cup or poster gracing your Green Lantern fan collection, how about something a little more practical, like say, a USB drive or two?

The MIMOBOT company has recently updated its collection of novelty USB flash drives, which now includes members of the GL Corps. The collection includes Hal Jordan, Killowog, Tomar-Re, and (ex-member) Sinestro. Each of USB drives which will be available in 2GB up to 16 GB capacity, at appropriately set price points.

Technical specs aside, and the fact this is the GL Corps we’re talking about. I do have some concerns regarding the new collection.

My first concern is on the matter of the caps. USB flash drives have a nasty habit of losing them, and the bigger and more prominent that cap gets, the more likely that it’s going to snag on something if you’re not careful. Yes, I’m looking at you, Tomar-Re.

My second concern is capacity. With 32 and 64-GB capacity drives becoming more affordable, it’s disappointing to see that MIMOBOT’s only offering up to 16GBs. Serious users will want to look elsewhere for something with a more substantial capacity.

Though in retrospect, we’re more likely to keep the Corps at home, safely tucked away in our personal collection of memorabilia.

My third concern is the Sinestro USB. His head is hideous, misshapen mass that looks like it has a tumor growing out of it. The whole thing made more pronounced by his abnormally large forehead, and far from menacing, he just look creepy.

With less than two weeks to go before the film, collectors will want to add these USBs to whatever other swag they’ve already got at home. These drives also come loaded with character-specific easter eggs, such as wallpapers, avatars, and screensavers.

USB devices: The little gizmo that could

You’re probably wondering: Why create an entire blog just to talk about USB devices? While it’s tempting to say “Why Not?” I think a more thorough answer is merited.

As far as devices go, I find USB gadgets to be an interesting attempt at working within limited resources. All USB devices, for example, only have as much as 500 milliamperes (mA) to work with, and even then will probably be contending with several other devices for that all-important juice.

While this isn’t such a big issue with storage devices such as hard drives, thumb drives, fans, and lamps, it becomes progressively harder the more complicated the task becomes.

The sort of attempts that people concoct to get past this hurdle never fails to surprise me, especially since some of these gadgets are actually pretty handy to have.

For instance, I’ve seen that humble little port used as a power source for warmers, as well as for other devices created for the express purpose of heating food, or using foam rockets to shoot pets.

But aside from their technical capabilities, I’m just as fascinated about devices that literally go to the extreme ends of their purpose, such as USB drives that have been designed to survive being submerged, burned, or crushed.

At the end of the day, I’d like to look at some of these creations, and say to myself “What will they think of next,” and possibly followed by “What am I going to use this for?” It’s a strange adventure in the world of tech, and given the lazy guy I am, it’s one that I can comfortably accomplish from the confines of a PC.