Un-Ray-markable

Saw a few of the new SunRay 170s arriving in our office this week. With the paint barely dry on Sun's renewed branding, I was expecting something curvy to reflect the whole "S for sharing" mantra, and possibly even something in the same ultramariney-blue that adorns our website these days... but they basically look like two black bricks with rounded corners, stuck together. Stand more than a couple of feet away and you can't even make out a Sun logo on it... I guess we won't be raking in any product placement business on this one then...

That gripe apart, they actually \*work\* great... nice screen, USB ports a-plenty, and (I'm told) lower power consumption than ever. It's just a pity that something that works that well doesn't shout "Sun" at me, in the same way that a Powerbook shouts "Apple", or a BMW 3 series shouts "office rep" :)

Comments:

The Sun Ray 170 was released last December and its mechanical design was done a year ago, long before the "S for Sharing" campaign was conceived. If the mechanicals had followed the Sun branding at that time you'd be looking at three bricks coloured red, yellow and blue. Which illustrates why following the branding gimmick du jour too closely is a bad idea.

The 170 does have a decent SMI logo on the back. In the prototypes that logo was illuminated but the "glowgo" was expensive and its MTBF would have reduced the 170's warranty period, so it had to go. It also has an SMI logo embossed onto the pedestal. That was more obvious in the protos but was found to be annoyingly distracting. And there's an SMI logo in the top left of the power-on background. Everyone in engineering thinks that that logo should have been much bigger, the branding people insisted on keeping it small. Go figure.

One really nice usability feature (that's what this blog is about after all, right?) is that the 170 has a double-sided card reader. You no longer have to wonder about which way up to insert your card, as you did with the 100 and 150.

Posted by ottomeister on June 16, 2005 at 02:53 PM GMT+00:00 #

Fair point about the design being done a year ago... although the implication that we've spent less than a year (and that much money) on such a major rebranding effort is kind of scary too! As for the logo on the back... I probably saw the back of a monitor about as recently as I saw the underside of a car :) I don't actually like big logos on stuff either, so I can sympathise with the branding guys on that front... but in the absence of any other recognisably-Sun styling, I'm afraid the black-ness just makes it look like a Dell commodity box to me. But yes, the double-sided card reader is cool... I meant to mention that in my list of things that make it our best SunRay ever, thanks for pointing it out!

Posted by Calum Benson on June 17, 2005 at 03:49 AM GMT+00:00 #

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I am an Interaction Designer in the Systems Experience Design team, arriving at Oracle via Sun where I've worked since 2000. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.

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