Sunday, July 23, 2006

Review: Tifosi Tyrant Sunglasses

With summmer here, design takes a backseat to play (although it seems like I'm working more, not less). Sunglasses are required when cycling, inline skating, golfing and during the course of never-ending yardwork.

My chance encounter with a Tifosi Optics display at Marty's Cycle Center was timed perfectly for the season.

Described as "enthusiastic eyewear," Tifosi sunglasses are an amazing synthesis of design, technology, materials and aesthetics. And they are surprisingly affordable.

My Tifosi Tyrants (last year's catalog evidently, the Pavé is the current replacement but uses similar lenses), set me back about $50.00 US. Included is the frame, three lenses (clear, smoke and all-condition red), and a hard case and soft bag. The AC Red cuts glare and heightens contrast better than any amber or brown lenses I've ever used.

I personally think these Tifosi Tyrants are better than my Oakley Duval Pro M Frames for a variety of reasons (and $150.00 less!).
  • They are face-hugging (meaning they wrap around the face comfortably and block light from the side -- the M Frames do this but have HUGE lenses.
  • The frames fold (granted the regular M-frames fold, but are bulky when folded)
  • The bow in the temples is just enough to curve around a helmet strap, yet fit within the foam of my Nolan and Fulmer motorcycle helmets
  • They vent better
  • The materials are more durable than the plastic M-Frames. Sweat has corroded the finish on the M Frame
The Tifosi frames are made of injected aluminum (temples) with a hydrophilic rubber temple and nose piece. The lenses offer excellent optical clarity, just as good as the highly-regarded Oakleys.

I've found the AC Red lenses are perfect for the golf course, cutting the glare of the sun while increasing contrast to make the ball more visible. I'm close to making these lenses permanent in this frame instead of swapping them out all of the time. Tifosi's are affordable enough for sunglasses aficionados to own two pairs.

The case is an adequate hard case, although there is a danger of scratching the lenses when loading them in and out of the built-in lense holders.

Kudos to Tifosi (a US company) for excellence in design!

You can buy Tifosi sunglasses at Amazon of course. Not that I'm suggesting that you buy them there, but it does help me to afford the other pair...

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Tifosi, but am of course pointing out an example of design excellence.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Garmin Nuvi 350 Personal Travel Assistant improves with age (and updates)

Once again, we are amazed with the Garmin Nuvi 350. This GPS/Travel assistant gets better with updates, especially the recent Garmin Nuvi 350 software update adds a load of features (that aren't necessarily indicated in the official list of updates):
  • Instead of an arrow, the icon for your vehicle is a car. Delightful, my wife loved that!
  • Your indicated path is much wider and easier to see onscreen
  • Voice indicator to turn seems to give slightly more warning before you need to turn
I previously reviewed the Garmin Nuvi in design matters: Review: Garmin Nuvi 350 vs. TomTom Go Personal Travel Assistant.

Updating was simple, even on the PC (Hello Garmin, Macintosh support would be a good idea), although even if the user doesn't read the email carefully, one tends to land on the WebUpdater page, and not the software download page.

The interface is still easy to read and navigate, especially the trip details screen. It shows average speed, max speed, total time, stopped time and other indicators, both in a numeric and visual display.

A simple tap on the screen highlights whatever you've touched: roads, cities and other information.

This travel assistant is so simple to use. I highly recommend it. (And if you're interested in buying one, might I recommend Amazon for the Garmin Nuvi 350.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The common sense computer keyboard

Look down. If you're reading this at a laptop computer, your keyboard is centered nicely in front of you, and when you type, your arms are comfortably in front of you, and the monitor is centered in your field of vision.

If you're reading this at a desktop computer, your keyboard is nicely centered as well, except that the keys that you use 99% of the time are offset to the left (with some arrow keys and number keys to the right.

Of course, that forces your hands and arms to shiflt left, making it very uncomfortable to type.

Years ago (pre-OSX), Autodesk made a keyboard called the Switchboard. Each section could be moved to the user's preferred position. It was an elegant design, and an excellent example of technology adapting to the user, rather than the user adapting to the technology.

Apple, Logitech, Macally, or even Kensington have overlooked the needs of the users. I would venture that the majority of users wouldn't mind the arrow keys on the left, or even the number pad, as long as the alph keys are centered so that the keyboard is easy to use.

I know, I know... I should design one and file for a patent. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. I've got the idea... Anybody with some spare cash and a desire for manufacturing?

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Addicted to design

To feed your addiction to design, here are some web sites that will feed that addiction, that offer the opportunity of serendipitous discovery and delightful surprise:

Design Addict: Products and the designers who create them. refresh the page for a cornucopia of different objects and people.

Net Diver: design culture and new media portal.  Be sure to visit the toolbox.

LogoLounge: Everything logos... subscribe to have access to the 36,000+ logos referenced on the site.

Jewelboxing: An alternative to the catalog-based DVD cases we all see.

InHabitat: forward-thinking design and style.

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