Friday, April 24, 2009

Epson X-Desk: not impressed

Here is an X-Desk video. I'm completely underwhelmed. Comparing it to Microsoft Surface, the only possible advantage is that it is larger, but that may not be an advantage depending upon the specific application. In every other aspect the X-Desk (and/or its demo application) is sub-par:

  • Watch the response time as they draw the lines at the beginning. It seems quite slow, slower than Surface.

  • I guess the finger traces is meant to be the equivalent of Surface's attract application. It wouldn't attract anyone unless someone else was already using the table.

  • "Draw a circle to call up the menu." This is not discoverable, and doesn't even make sense since the menu is already on screen. Maybe there is a way to hide the menu but it isn't obvious.

  • The menu only has room for four buttons. Do they plan to allow more than four apps in the application launcher?

  • Once inside an application, there are two ugly bars in the center of the long sides with a "Back" button. That takes up more space than necessary and uses prime real estate that would be better used by the actual application.

  • The applications demonstrated are bad rip-offs of Microsoft's early Surface demos from two years ago:
    • Photo viewer - just a scatterview, no pods or groups or video even

    • Phone comparison - Even copies the two phone comparison circle from the AT&T store application. When the lady moved the single phone around, the circle with text moved around in weird ways to stay out of the way. At first I thought this was a little bit neat but now that I think about it more, it's a bad idea since it doesn't consider how multiple users might be using the device at once. "Hey, I was reading that!"

    • Drinks - Very basic app, displays some frankly unimpressive eye candy and the name of your drink when you put a tagged cup on the table. Would the form factor of this table even work well in a bar or night club?


  • The IR tags have 16k possible values. This is between Microsoft's byte tag and high-res identity tag, and doesn't provide enough for many enterprise applications.

  • The whole visual experience is very basic. It is obvious that they did not have a designer work on this or have any kind of UX expert.



Perhaps what we saw was just a single demo and the menu isn't some kind of common application launcher. That's even worse, since it means Espon doesn't have any effort towards providing a uniform experience.

The Surface team should not be afraid of X-Desk at all. It makes them look like an even better value with the better user experience.

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