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Assault On Batteries

Leader
By Paul White

This is the time of year when we normally dream up some improbable spoof product, impossible new technology or nonsensical legislation in the time‑honoured tradition of April Fools' day. But over the past few years, more than a few of our earlier spoofs have returned in the form of real products. Who can forget the inflatable PA loudspeaker that turned up at an AES show a couple of years after we'd deemed the idea daft enough to use for an April news feature? Then we came up with soundproof paint. Fair enough, I don't think anybody is making soundproof paint yet, but if you do an online search, you will come across more than one reference to soundproof wallpaper. Personally, I'll believe it works when I hear it, or more correctly, when I don't hear it, but it's out there! And well over a decade ago we also postulated the extremely unlikely idea of a self‑tuning guitar. 'Nuff said.

This year I'm going to try the reverse, by coming up with something I think actually might be sensible and worthwhile, and then see if anybody follows it up. For example, how about suggesting that the European CE standard, which has to be passed by all electrical and electronic goods before they can be sold in Europe, is extended to outlaw all battery‑powered devices (other than possibly disposable small items such as electric toothbrushes) where the battery can't be changed by the end user? This would apply to all smart phones, tablet‑style computers and new‑generation laptops, which would, in turn, force some of the leading manufacturers to rethink their designs in the end‑user's favour. After all, these devices are becoming more central to the way we make music today. I don't know about you, but I rather resent having to drive miles to an approved service centre and then pay for an expensive service job just to swap out a dead battery. On a related subject, I'd like to see it made law that all external power adaptors have to be labelled so that we can match them up with the device they were sold with. I've got boxes of the damned things and rarely a clue as to what they belong to.

And finally, perhaps the standard should include a drop test for mobile devices — let's face it, mobile phones are going to get dropped (or pulled off the table by the audio interface and cables you just plugged in to run your multitrack recorder App), so if they can't withstand a two-metre fall onto concrete without the screen cracking, they're not fit for purpose, in my view. I once dreamt up an April Fool based around a small airbag system that automatically deployed if the ribbon mic or other fragile device to which it was attached should happen to fall, so maybe now some enterprising mobile-phone manufacturer will actually build one!

Paul White Editor In Chief  

Published April 2011