January 11, 2007
CES: The Best Products Don’t Always Get the Best Names
C|NET has posted its Best of CES 2007 awards. Alas, most of the winning products don’t have particularly inspiring names. And while a good name won’t save a bad product from its flaws, surely a good product deserves a memorable name.
Good names make life easier for everyone. Even for geeks, names are easier to remember than model numbers. This is why systems operators give network servers names. I know of one company where the servers were all named after different kinds of beer.
C|NET’s Best in Show award went to the LG BH100, a player that can handle both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs. A boon to movie watchers and a great consumer product, definitely. But is the manufacturer going to get any brand recognition out of it? How many people are going to ask for it by name?
Instead, they’ll say to their spouses or parents or the sales clerk at Best Buy, “I want one of those players that does both DVD formats.” The technology which powers both the BH100 is known as “Super Multi Blue.” That tagline also appears on the GGW-H10N, which is LG’s comparable drive for your computer. Now there’s a name worth emphasizing.
The Sync system which Microsoft developed in conjunction with Ford, which received the “People’s Voice” award from C|NET, seems to emphasize the wrong thing with its admittedly short, catchy name. While the hands-free system does sync phone books between your cell and the Microsoft Auto Operating System, the real benefit is hands-free control of your calls, text messages, and music.
The Powercast wireless cell phone recharger, on the other hand, does exactly what its name suggests: it broadcasts power out to devices that can pick it up. (They have to be equipped with the tiny Powercast receiver.)
It’s the winner in the gaming category that has the best name, though: the Alienware Area 51 laptop. Given its specs, though, it probably has a battery life of about 10 minutes, so if you want one, you’d probably better equip it with a Powercast receiver.
The Philips SoundBar is not actually a place where you to meet other singles, but it is long and slim, if proportioned somewhat more like a two-by-four than a pipe. At a cool thousand per unit, there may be a few people who call it the Price Bar.
Dash Navigation’s Dash Express GPS and traffic-monitoring system sounds a little hasty, but since most drivers are in a hurry and don’t want to be slowed down by getting lost, the name is a fitting one.
Sony’s HDR-HC7 video camera suffers from much the same problem as LG’s BH100: too many initials, too little name. Like LG, Sony seems to prefer naming the technology to naming the product itself. And being Sony, it can’t call high-definition color XvYCC like everyone else, but calls it x.v.Color instead. Let’s hope that doesn’t prove to be an over-proprietary dead end for Sony.
Of the other winning products, more than enough has been said about the Windows Vista name, and we just discussed SanDisk’s Sansa Connect. Verizon’s V Cast TV may be of interest to those who want to spend their cell phone minutes watching television in miniature, but the V Cast name has been around awhile.
What would you call these products, if you had your choice?
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