Great crashed expectations

BeoSound 5

One of our new experiences in London was a Bang & Olufsen store. I’d never been in one, but as a card-carrying audiophile I was required to enter as soon as I saw it. The door opened into a hushed demo space, thickly carpeted in 1000-euro bills. Every display item gleamed, and sounded or looked glorious. I wanted the boom box, which fits iPods and iPads and cost a mere £995 (about $1500).

But the most interesting thing in there was a machine called the BeoSound 5, which acted like a dedicated iTunes unit in one’s listening room. It used one of two smooth-moving metal dials to scroll through the electronic music library (which had been previously ripped into the unit at full digital capacity), viewing by artist or album or songs. I was having loads of fun playing with the dials and figuring out how it worked, and playing snippets from this album and that, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to play a specific song on an album rather than starting at the beginning. And as I was trying, the sleek, gorgeous display suddenly blacked out and in monochrome green pixelated letters it said:


(error code gobbledygook)


How on Earth could they make such a sleek, beautiful, expensive piece of machinery, which is oh-so-clearly modeled on the Apple iTunes concept, and then slap a Windows base on it? That’s like building a Ferrari and putting a Kia Sportage engine inside.

The clerk came over and fussed with it, then fussed some more. The first reboot didn’t take. Then he fussed with connections and wiring, and rebooted again, and finally it came back to life, having been blacked out for a good fifteen minutes. Talk about a sales killer — even if I had the cash, I’d never buy that thing. My audiophile-biased opinion of Bang & Olufsen had crashed along with their crappy Windows-based music controller.

Back to my laptop, iTunes, and little desktop JBL speakers…

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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6 Responses to Great crashed expectations

  1. Jbrandao says:

    don’t blame it on Microsoft. Windows 7 is great.

    You have to blame the engineers from B&O for not making the software work properly.
    In fact, from what I’ve been told, B&O stuff looks amazing, and costs a lot of money, but it’s hardly worth the price.

    • oregon expat says:

      Actually I’ve heard a lot of good things about Windows 7 — but that’s not what B&O is using for this gear. I looked it up, and the software is Windows XP Embedded.

      • JJ says:

        Windows XP?! OH my. I think my coveting of B&O electronics has just plummeted as well. My laptop from 2005 runs XP and it’s like pushing a snail to get it to run properly with todays internet software.

        I agree that Jobs must be laughing from above.

        Thanks for sharing this tidbit.

  2. James Haney says:

    Jobs must be laughin’ his ass off up there.

  3. Adam says:

    I usually enjoy reading your posts, but not this one. Hating on Windows is a common pastime for tech hipsters, as if the inferiority of Windows is fact and not opinion.

    I find this arrogant. Especially when compared to an OS where you can’t fully maximize a window, where windows could only be resized from the bottom right corner until 2011, and whose designers thought it would be a good idea to disrupt your workflow when you move your mouse to the corner of the screen.

    Furthermore, when considering the total effect of Apple + Jobs on the world, I would say it provides negative value thanks to abuse of Chinese workers, vendor lock-in tactics, and recent patent trolling. I would argue that Microsoft + Gates can be looked at much more favorably in this regard (though I won’t claim either corporation is “good”).

    Given that, dismissals of Windows seems more a result of the speaker’s ignorance to me.

    And like JBrandao said, it’s not their fault B&O used a 10-year-old version of the OS.

    Looking forward to your next post,

    • oregon expat says:

      That’s the first time I’ve been called a hipster! (Alas, I’m a bit out of the usual age bracket.)

      We could probably debate the virtues/vices of our chosen operating systems quite happily, as well as erroneous assumptions — for instance, OS X certainly does allow full maximizing of a window, and the hot corners can be customized or turned off, depending on user preference. (But you got me on the lower right corner resizing part.)

      I’ll just add that speaker ignorance does not apply here, as I was a Windows user for 12 years before switching to OS X. I come by my distaste for it honestly and through long, bitter experience.

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