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Public-i hardware: our thinking on taking the R600 forward

By January 24, 2013No Comments

At the recent user group, in November of 2012, we talked about the R600, the dedicated hardware unit we use as part of the Public-i Connect and Connect Social webcasting systems.

The R600 has served the company very well. Its reliability and durability have been an important element to our success. We make the unit ourselves, with our clients’ specifications in mind, so it’s very much a bespoke piece of kit that continues to deliver a brilliant product for clients. But we also know that there are a number of issues – in terms of its design and the way that it works – that, while they have no impact on the effectiveness of the solution, will in time need addressing.

For example, we’ve heard from clients that because the laptop that controls the unit sits on top of the bulky hardware box, it can be awkward for people to operate. To add to this, the hard casing we’ve used in the build of the R600 is no longer available from the supplier.

Outside these practical issues, the world is changing, too. While the R600 is built with tried-and-tested analogue equipment, we’re now living in a digital world. If we’re going to address the design and functionality of the unit, it’s probably time to talk in earnest about the pros and cons of moving to a digital system in the future.

As ever, we’re not the sort of company to take these decisions lightly or to expect to come to a conclusion without talking lots, both internally and to our clients. There’s a lot to think about – and part of the reason for today’s blog post is to begin to illustrate the issues that are at hand.

What are some of the issues we need to think about?

1. Price point
We need to make sure the offering reflects the market and competition – the new unit will have to stay competitive and in the same price range as the existing unit.

2. Analogue vs digital
The continued debate surrounding this will continue for a while, but it’s something we need to consider. Analogue devices/hardware will increasingly be harder to source, purely because the worlds of both consumer and professional electronics are switching to digital solutions. That means we need to manage our offering to match. However, moving to a strictly digital offering will affect all the other considerations in this list. Look out for a blog post in the future drilling down into the detail of why we have to seriously look at a purely digital offering, and where that leads us in the future.

3. Usability
We need to rethink how the new offering will be used, design the unit from a user’s point of view and not from a hardware perspective, gather user requirements and design the system to that effect as best as possible, of course.

4. Portability
One of the USPs to the existing R600 is the portability, we need to continue in that vein and ensure the new unit is as or more portable in its design.

5. Hardware configuration(s)
Hardware is governed mainly by the other criteria in this list, and needs the most thought and research. The decision to move into a digital-only offering would open new doors and have an impact on the overall design of the unit.

6. Future Proofing
This kind of goes with without saying, but I thought I would add it anyway. We need to design the new unit so that it will be around for a while!

What we’ll be doing

I’ve already started this process off by assembling a team here at Public-i to talk about the R600. All sides of the business are involved, with members of the sales, customer delivery and development team ensuring that we can keep in mind all the different interests of the project.

We’ve met already – but we’ll be looking over the next few weeks and months to start to work through the options we have – from a slight adjustment of the R600 to switching to a digital system. We’re very keen to talk about what this means – and I expect I’ll be back on the blog in the not-too-distant future to discuss more about the pros and the cons and where our thinking is going.

But if you’d like to talk more about this with us please get in touch or add your thoughts in the comments below.

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