Left-Handed Design

Based on the overwhelming positive feedback, starting next week expect video tutorials to be a regular part of the newsletter. I re-uploaded the tutorial on creating photo slideshows because the audio in the first version was a little tinny. I'm still perfecting the formula for optimizing file size vs. quality, in an effort to make the files accessible to as many users as possible. And the next batch of tutorials are scripted, so you won't have to suffer through the 'ums' and 'uhs' associated with my winging the audio track for this first demo. If you missed the tutorial the first time around, it's still located in the online archive.

As I was writing my comparison of the 20GB versions of the Dell DJ, iPod, and Rio Karma, I noticed something; I'm left-handed. Okay, so I already knew I was left-handed, but more importantly, I'm noticing most electronic devices aren't designed to be used by me. Holding the Dell DJ in my left hand, I accidentally powered the device off more than once because the power button is in the exact spot where my thumb is most comfortable. Moving my thumb elsewhere on the Dell DJ results in inadvertent pressing of volume buttons. The only solution for this is to switch hands.

The Karma is better. The power button is on the top, remaining out of the way for either hand. It is also designed with right-handed use in mind. The thumb control is most definitely positioned for optimal comfort when holding the device in your right hand (as the contoured right side of the device indicates). I can comfortably navigate the Karma menus with either hand, but the design definitely favors right-handed use.

Apple's iPod design is definitely primary hand agnostic. By placing the scroll wheel in the lower center of the device, with button controls just above the wheel, it doesn't matter which hand you use to control the iPod. There are plenty of reasons I will still favor my Karma, but iPod is certainly the clear leader in non-discriminatory design.

Portable music players aren't the only place I'm finding handedness to be an issue. My latest cell phone, an LG VX6000 also places buttons inconveniently in the path of my left hand. I find this to be much more inconvenient than any of the portable device designs, because the phone is constantly adjusting volume if I hold it up to my left ear with my left hand. I don't remember this being a problem on previous phones, or I probably would have been more careful in making a selection this time.

Are left-handed people an unrecognized minority in device design, or am I just a whiner who needs to suck it up and deal with a right-handed world? You decide.