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December 28, 2006

Obsolete

I had some 9 hours with the SkyMall catalog yesterday and the Computerless E-mail Printer from the crapmeisters at Hammacher Schlemmer was a standout.

It's for folks who are scared of computers but who still would like to receive email. So instead of getting an email account, why not get a printer that connects via a phone-line to an email service. Then the email you receive will simply be spewed out into your house throughout the day.

Basically, it's the technological equivalent of a service that would take phonecalls and transcode them into telegrams for people afraid of Alexander Graham Bell's infernal machine. I'm guessing that existed at some point.

The promo material makes it pretty clear that it's for old folks whose kids don't wanna mess with getting them online. I like the fact that this product is targeted at a dying off demographic was not a concern to the people at HS. And I guess having stupid products condescendingly foisted upon you by your adult children is just another indignity of growing old.

Of course, there are two great kickers. First, in addition to the $150 price tag, you need to pay a $10 month subscription fee. And why not! Email is free so crappy, one-way print-o-mail should cost $120 a year.

Second, consider the case where little Jimmy has gone away to college, has a new email address and once a semester may take a break from his quest to build the perfect gravity bong to drop a kindly note to his loving Nana. Assuming he didn't accidently forward a Nigerian email scam to his grandma, Nana would first need to add Jimmy's new address to her account. And how do you do that? Through the website of course. Time to break out the needlepoint-to-HTTP converter, granny!

3 comments:

Chester said...

It all seems silly because one could probably just hire some phone techs in Bangalore to call up Granny and recite junior's e-mail over the telephone...for less than $10/month.

Presuming that Granny has figured out how to use a telephone, of course...

Lilly said...

There's a similar product that HP created to let people receive photos by email through the printer-to-phone-box. Does the skymall product do photos as well?

While Nana would really rather get a freakin' phone call or paper letter than a typed message out of the digital-teletype, you can't convey a photo through the phone and a lot of people don't even have printers so sending it through snail mail isn't an option.

willo said...

@ lilly - uh, didn't you click the link? same product. (i know she probably won't come back & read this, but seriously... i couldn't resist).

anyway - that's actually kinda cool. that video is hilarious when the lady's face was all stressed at the thought of having to give her mom tech support - ha!

although the monthly fee is a bummer, i think my grandma would like that. we tried to get her on WebTV way back when, but that never stuck. ha.

Also, this would be a good idea for old people's homes, or convalescent homes to invest in... for the old people who are practically left & forgotten (besides the 1 or 2 times their family goes to visit them every month).

hi, long comment. :)