Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Bit of Praise for the eCraft Engineers

Each morning, before heading off to my consulting clients that pay the bills, I take a few minutes to focus on the eCraft community by checking Craftwell's Facebook page and emails that I've receive from blog readers overnight.  Since most current owners are waiting to see what the next software release will bring and the machines one the first boat to the U.S. have not yet begun to be shipped, things were slow this morning.

That gave me some time to sit and reflect on the quality of the design of the eCraft hardware.  It really is unique and well done from both an aesthetic point of view and a mechanical point of view.  Even the battery compartment design merits appreciation.

Some people comment on its deep footprint when the tray is attached.  But, they forget that the tray is simply an added convenience.  It can be removed.  And, once it's removed it requires no more depth than any other cutter since the paper we use in all cutters is the same depth and it is the paper that determines how much room we need behind the machine.

The build quality is excellent.  I love that the blade trolley is right out in front and easily moved by hand or buttons.  The lift up design has allowed me to photograph the blade and blade cover quite easily and while it's easier and probably safer to change the blades with the provided tweezers, it's possible to pull out an old blade and pop in a new one by hand.

And, speaking of blades, when I first took delivery of this machine, I fully expected it to run through blades quite quickly.  But, surprisingly, with all the testing and cutting I have done, I still have new blades I have not used and old blades I can still use in a pinch.  Obviously, blade life depends on the materials you cut and the density of the tabs you've selected.  And, it may be that I'm getting longer life now because I have found that I don't normally need a high tab density and can even cut successfully without any tabs at all with some material and shape combinations.

But, one of the things I most appreciate is the simultaneous blade and pen combination.  When I first started to use the eCraft I didn't think much about how useful being able to chose between a blade or a pen without having to physically change anything would be.  The pen is now my most used feature for testing rendering accuracy and it has not only saved me a lot of expensive paper; but, allowed me to use less expensive paper while testing the software.

Many, many years ago, when I first graduated from college I produced videos.  One of my regular clients was an opinion research firm that would bring people into a conference room to discuss a product or service.  And, one of the questions they invariably asked was, "Is this product was a car, what brand of car would it be?"  That seems like a good question to pose this morning.

If the eCraft was a car, what brand of car would it be?

It's trickier than one might think to make that comparison.  That is because the eCraft combines features that aren't generally common in the same automobile... built-in reliability and sleek looks.  A Ferrari Enzo might be a good choice for comparison when it comes to the styling of the eCraft.  The Honda Accord might be a good choice for it's rugged construction.  So, the Ferrari Enzo has the looks; but, perhaps not the ruggedness and the Honda has the ruggedness and not the looks.  So, there is only one thing we can do....

Why, choose the Bugatti Veyron 16:4, of course!  Yes, if I had to choose a car that best reflects to design and performance of the eCraft the Bugatti is my choice.  The big difference, of course, is the Bugatti is the world's most expensive automobile and the eCraft is not the most expensive digital cutter.  Bugatti at a bargain.  Now, that is a pretty good deal.

And, if I can be permitted to reflect on something else while we comparing the eCraft to an automobile.  One of the factors in selecting an automobile is something I simply call Unity of Design.  For a consumer to feel comfortable with a product, ALL the pieces of that product must be in UNITY.  Just as a potential Bugatti owner would never accept cheap fabric seats, neither would a potential Hyundai Accent buyer want hand-crafted leather seats that cost more than the entire car!  The Bugatti buyer wants seats that reflect every other aspect of that luxury car.  And, a Hyundai buyer wants seats that reflect the frugality of their automobile choice.  When ANY element of a product's design is not in perfect unity with all the other elements, people get very nervous.  They may not know WHY they have an uneasy feeling.  They just feel it in their gut and end up walking away.

The reason I bring this up is that when I look at the hardware design of the eCraft, I cannot help but want a software component that is in every way its equal.  I don't want a Bugatti cutter being driven by Hyundai Accent software!  I expect Bugatti software and nothing else.  As I said in another post, in a different way, the hardware design deserves nothing less.


Ruthie said...

Completely agree about the footprint - I have still got my tray in the packing and have never bothered putting it on as I really dont need it yet. My cutter sits on top of our lizard's home - hey, its out of the way and right next to my chair where I play on the laptop - perfect!


Tom Meeks said...

Be sure to warn lizard to keep his head low! LOL!