Friday, August 30, 2013

August Observations - Go, Go, Go Little Printer


Go, Go, Go, Little Printer
Jim Lyons Observations August 2013

I must say that in the nearly two years since first finding out about Berg Cloud’s Little Printer, the cheerful refrain of “Go, go, go, Little Printer” (to the tune of “Little Queenie”, a Chuck Berry original frequently covered by the likes of The Beatles and Rolling Stones), has been stuck in my head. That song’s positive, upbeat spirit just seems to go along perfectly with the trademark smiling face that has come to be associated with Little Printer, first during its pre-shipment publicity phase, and then in its two periods of production and shipment. As you can see from the following links, I’ve been watching this product for a while.


November, 2012, Little Printer Ships

December, 2012, Happy New Year

July, 2013, Please Mr Postman

Just last month I discussed the anticipation of my own Little Printer’s arrival, and in cliffhanger fashion – though maybe not quite as dramatic as “Who shot JR?” – I ended the column with the just-arrived Little Printer shipping box at my feet, still sealed, and asked the rhetorical questions, “So how does it work, you might ask?” and “How do I like it, and can I recommend it to others?”

Although I hedged my bets by stating that “after a few days – or, more likely, weeks or even months – I (would) report my findings,” at that point I anticipated the first installation and use of the product within days (if not hours) of finishing that post. But schedules being what they usually are – and in this case, with some new classes starting (both as a student and teacher) and another important new product dominating my attention for much of the elapsed time – it has taken me almost exactly a full month to get through the initial installation and evaluation stage. (And by the way, for those who keep track of my other blogs and tweets, you know that the big distraction was that I became an official glass-wearing Google Glass Explorer this August as well.)

Compare and contrast

So before going on to at least a few of the merits of Little Printer I have discovered, we should reflect, in the fine academic tradition, by conducting a “compare and contrast” on the two evaluation processes I’ve been involved with recently, and thus reflect more generally on early product testing as well as general peaks and valleys of being an early adopter. The table below shows some of the comparisons and contrasts I’ve come up with so far.


Google Glass Explorer
Little Printer
Entry into the program
Be invited by Google to be an Explorer, based on “application by tweet” (program now closed). Essentially a beta program but with free-form feedback requirements.
Order online since it is a product in production.
“Buy in”
Pay $1,500, travel to Google Office (at additional expense) in San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York for pickup and training.
Pay $249 for printer, bridge and extra paper. Ships via FedEx.
Registration
Requires Google+ and Gmail account.
Register with Berg Cloud.
Smartphone integration
Yes – for data access via Bluetooth tethering.
Yes – for remote control.
User (Jim Lyons) comparisons
Has features of a smartphone. Its heads-up, hands-off ability for image/video capture is its most immediate selling point. Might think of it as an overgrown Bluetooth headset – wearable, tied to a smartphone, but with screen and online access.
Much more of an information solution than a “printer,” per se, as the hardware works in conjunction with a smartphone and back-end information services. Might think of HP’s Instant Delivery or more recent Scheduled Delivery, though scaled down to a much more convenient (for some, anyway) size. (See http://jimlyonsobservations.blogspot.com/2013/05/may-2013-observations-all-news-thats.html.)

Analysis
My Little Printer's "Bridge" sits around back with other infrastructure items

The Little Printer itself has a spot "up front" in the office

Reflecting on the two, I think having Berg Cloud’s Little Printer as an early customer is more like when I was an early buyer of the original Apple iPhone in 2007. I remember one of my marketing students having one of the very first devices that July and showing it off in class. I got on board shortly after with the intent of leapfrogging from the laggard position in mobile phones I had found myself in. I remember attending an August conference and finding myself in discussions with several BlackBerry users who turned up their noses at iPhone and insisted they could never “downgrade” to one. But later that year, in December, I was at a niece’s wedding with lots of younger folks around, and during the various festivities, I spotted other iPhone users. They spotted me as well, giving me a subtle acknowledgement as motorcyclists still do today when passing on the road. It was the cool thing to be (an iPhone user, that is), and this was before there were even apps – imagine! So is Little Printer with its information services; upon installation, I immediately used my iPhone5 to sign up for its “new movies this week” and “Spanish word of the day”.

My Google Glass experiences (chronicled in my own dedicated blog, "Glass Half Full") are more like true beta testing experiences. Google Glass is not a finished product, and though it certainly foreshadows great things to come in wearable computing, what eventually gets released to the general public will probably be much more refined. Similar to using Androids if you are accustomed to using iOS machines, it’s just a little creakier all the way around. But that is just my opinion at this point, and it is subject to change.
I got to pick my own Little Printer face via my iPhone (screen shot here)
Anyway, my experience with the Little Printer in just the short time I’ve been working with it confirms what I have been building on in past musings: It has captured the imagination of so many because of its solutionlike nature with respect to information and communication.


I plan to blog much more about my experiences with Little Printer as I go along with it, and I will post a separate entry with many of the photos I captured during the very fulfilling out-of-the-box experience I had as well as the initial printing I did. And as I dredge the memory banks for historic pop-culture references, as I have already twice here by going with “Little Queenie” and “Who Shot J.R.?,” I finish with another, even older one. To paraphrase “Casablanca”, “Little Printer, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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