I’m one of those “always read the manual” kind of people, unlike my dad, who is a stubborn “I can figure this out without looking at a stupid piece of paper” type of person. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am now his de facto technical support person, so instead of waiting for him to figure out that he can’t actually put this thing together without getting some direction, he just leaves it to me in the first place. He doesn’t always listen though — my dad kept complaining he couldn’t hear the dialog on his TV, so he kept turning it louder, to the detriment of the neighbors, even though I told him that wasn’t going to solve his problem. Anyway, end result was that I bought my parents a sound bar for the holidays. That meant I also set it up for them, lest I receive phone call later that evening when he tried to do it himself. It went rather smoothly, even with some remote learning, thanks to a well-written manual. Thank you, Polk Audio.
A well-written manual, or well-written specs, is not always the norm, though, as anyone who has ever tried to put together furniture or something in which the company avoided having their specs translated into multiple languages by using stick figures to simulate the set-up process. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t typically turn out well.
Today, Leonard Suskin laments this trend, in which spec-writing, even for technically complex and expensive products in the ProAV industry, is an afterthought. Who has the best and worst specs or manuals in the industry? Let us know in the comments on Leonard’s post. And if you’re in the mood to hear about a different problem, check out Fred Ampel’s piece on scope creep. Enjoy the issue!