User interfaces killed by feature creep?

Fird

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Nov 16, 2006
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I'm not normally a curmudgeon when it comes to features and complex menu driven interfaces. My favorite light of all time is the Liteflux LF2XT - plenty o menu options, possibly beyond what's absolutely necessary and definitely limited by the available micro-controllers of the day, in fact some of the features are actually incompatible with each other simply because the controller does not have enough memory to handle everything at once. For me there are a couple of specific makes which have gone way way beyond their 'peak' as far as the user interface is concerned. Let me explain:

Emisar/Noctigon. - The original D4 was just about peak Anduril. A fantastic ramping UI that allows one to customize output perfectly with quick access to minimum and maximum, I really like my D4 and carry it daily. I must also admit the aux lights and options on the latest Emisar/Noctigon lights enticed me to purchase one, but holy cow the UI has gotten massive.

Zebralight - I have an older single AA headlamp which also had an absolutely stellar UI, click for on, hold for low, hold some more for low - medium - high ramp, double click for strobe (could even skip that, nobody strobes a headlamp....) Overall its very well optimized for what one actually does while wearing a headlamp. More recent lights have all the 'sub-modes' and hidden features to fiddle with.

To be clear, its not that I don't understand these lights or think that adding cool options is bad, it just feels like the advent of ultra powerful micro-controllers have allowed us to push way beyond the most optimal UI for a flashlight in favor of adding features nobody ever asked for because we can. Anyone else feel similar?
 

Lumen83

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Sep 21, 2017
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I totally agree. I don't want or need all of the crazy modes and all of the fancy options and programming. For most of my uses, one mode is fine. I want to push the tail cap in and have the front part emit light. On some lights that are too bright, a low mode would be welcome. But other than that, for almost all of my needs I just want something simple with good beam quality and tint.
 

aznsx

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the advent of ultra powerful micro-controllers have allowed us to push way beyond the most optimal UI for a flashlight in favor of adding features nobody ever asked for because we can. Anyone else feel similar?

Details aside, I fundamentally agree with your premise. The broad acceptance of 'because I/we can' as a valid reason for doing practically anything is widespread these days, and unfortunately extends far beyond the realm of flashlight UIs. The acceptance of that reasoning often doesn't end well. I've always maintained that there's a list of things I can do, and a list of things I should do, and the second list should be far shorter than the first. Those whose lists are the same length generally lack good judgment.

edit: spelling
 
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bykfixer

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John 3:16
A few years back there was a thread about a brand of flashlight and what features you'd like to see in the next one. Of course you had your request for varying firefly like 0.01 lumens to 1.0. Stuff like that but then there was the "open the garage door", "make toast", "change the radio station" or that sort of thing.

I like being able to reverse the order of the interface, perhaps engage or disingage memory or change the number of settings from say 2 to 3 or 4. But until I figure out the defrost feature on my microwave I prefer simple on/off with a mechanical way for hi/lo.
 

Burgess

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Apr 10, 2006
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What I really like:


Reylight (for example),
which gives users the option to choose --


Do you want Memory mode ?

Do you want Moon-mode ?

Do you want modes to go from
Low to Bright ?
- or -
Bright to Low ?


This is So Very Helpful to me,
and I'm sure to many others as well.

:thumbsup:
_
 

idleprocess

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I like Anduril, but I invariably find myself in a config mode inadvertently about once a week. I normally just physically disconnect power since I don't readily remember those menu options and rendered one of my FW3As nearly useless by accident once until I figured out what got buggered.

Since I see thermal / ramp config as set-and-forget items, I do often wish those were managed out-of-band vis-à-vis a config file. However I get that even USB would be volume and costs that the likes of Lumintop and Emisar aren't likely to sacrifice.
 

richbuff

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Prescott Az
For me, the the preference for simple UI or complex UI is a matter of personality, that's why I like both.

Same with consistency versus variety. I have several groups of lights where the lights in the group are same/very similar. I have lights where the UIs are distinctly different.

Whatever point in the UI spectrum I am in the mood for, I latch on to.
 

Katherine Alicia

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Central UK.
I have more of a hybrid opinion of complex UI`s, I love how simple they can make using a light. Anduril is by far my fave UI and when I`v set it all up I have a light that with one click will be the exact brightness I want a light to be, and another click it turns off, just like a good old fashioned incan (bonus points for a side switch instead of a tail cap button). It`s also nice to know that at the same time behind all that simplicity, it`s looking after my battery and LED and I don`t have to concern myself with any of that except once when it first arrives.
The aux leds will tell me at a glance the state of battery charge too.

I love my lights to be simple in use (like the old incans) and the Better (often more complex) UI`s will let you do that.
 

scout24

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I agree with the OP. It seems that UI has been the sector for advancement as the rest of the package has remained somewhat stagnant. Sustained emitter output is limited by how much heat sink and battery you feel like carrying around, and round metal tubes are now made in every metal under the sun. I'm a fan of relative simplicity and function I guess. Programming is cool as long as it's a feature, and runs in the backround. (H17f, HDS, BOSS optical programming.) I have a couple ramping side switch lights and they do get played with but I don't begin to scratch the surface of their features. Instant low and turbo, and ramping in between. And they've come on in my pocket, relegating them to shelf duty. I'm not doing a 4-press to unlock a light when I need it or when I put it away... :)
 

CanAm

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I've also been thinking about this as I get more into good lights. It's cool to have a few different brightness levels, but at the end of the day I just want light when I press the button. I like a good single-mode light. I'm very happy with a three-mode (L-M-H) light, but to me more than that is just getting silly. I don't want to have to do a secret handshake to lock/unlock it. I don't want my flashlight to have firmware. It's fine for people who do, either because they're enthusiasts into pushing the limits and advancing technology, or because they have needs for some very specific features, but it's a pain that everyone else is getting dragged along for the ride, much as we're being dragged along into the cool-white lumens race.
I want high CRI, a very simply UI, and I don't need 1000+ lumens from a keychain light. I need something easy to use, bright enough, with a good runtime and decent color.
I see this same feature bloat happening in everything from phones to cars to bikes to appliances though. Personally I don't get it, and it makes me feel like an old man.
 

akula88

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BisDak [Area X] ^^.PH
I'm either a 2-mode or 3-mode user. Never liked Strobe or Beacon feature, also there are specific and rare times that I would need them on a particular light.

Is there a way to have a user custom program his 'regular' light via the computer or cellphone interfaces? Program them with visual screen description. I'm too clumsy with doing consistent half-taps and counting blinking patterns.
 

jabe1

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People like the gimmicks. Until they have to deal with them all of the time.
SOS mode, seriously? How often do you need strobe? Beacon mode maybe...
I want a light that will turn on when I push the button, or twist it; at the level I want.
Usually, I want a light to start in low mode, but occasionally high mode from off is best, and very few lights give you the choice. Sure there's mode memory, but then I would have to be prescient and set the light for future use.
Three, maybe four modes with preset from off, or even a double press to high is great. Forget the disco modes.
I still like the old Quark tactical...
 
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troutpool

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Oveready BOSS flashlights are custom programmable optically via computer interface. You can set up any levels of light in any order in a one, two, three or four mode configuration. The HDS Rotary has many special features, but once those are set up (or ignored) the light is simplicity itself to operate: click it ON and then twist the tail to find the exact level of light you want. Reylights, as already mentioned, are user programmable through series of clicks. And then, of course, there are single mode lights that can be the perfect choice for some purposes, and a simple pleasure to use (especially with Malkoff dropins).
 

srvctec

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I have more of a hybrid opinion of complex UI`s, I love how simple they can make using a light. Anduril is by far my fave UI and when I`v set it all up I have a light that with one click will be the exact brightness I want a light to be, and another click it turns off, just like a good old fashioned incan (bonus points for a side switch instead of a tail cap button). It`s also nice to know that at the same time behind all that simplicity, it`s looking after my battery and LED and I don`t have to concern myself with any of that except once when it first arrives.
The aux leds will tell me at a glance the state of battery charge too.

I love my lights to be simple in use (like the old incans) and the Better (often more complex) UI`s will let you do that.
I agree with everything you said. The one thing I don't like about some lights I've used over the years, is I couldn't set MY perfect brightness, for every single time I turn on my EDC light. With Anduril, I can get that. I'm still EDCing my D4V2 since I got it when it was released almost 2 years ago. It's my all time favorite EDC light because once it's set up how I like it, it's perfect for ME.

It's getting a bit beat up but I still love it!
9fbfb12dae143b8f50c8bd8e9e646841.jpg
9461a52ca4766fc9778c12d2ced5a481.jpg
 

idleprocess

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MY perfect brightness

I long ago reached the conclusion that there's no such thing to me as "perfect brightness" because
A) It takes too long to find it, and
B) It's soon enough the wrong brightness as soon as anything changes - distance, moving from one location to another, different task.

As such, I just find a "good enough" level for a given task and stick with it.
 

Sambob

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Dec 17, 2015
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Agreed..just you can doesn't mean you should I'm a simple guy long press for firefly release then hold to cycle through L-M-Hi, I admit a beacon mode would be nice screw strobe.
The only one my light has ever strobed Is me:D
 

Owen

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Depends on how those features affect practical use of the light.
I mostly have single mode Malkoffs with a clicky at the tail, but really appreciate the "complex" Zebralight UI, too.
PITA for a bit when programming all the levels, but the reward for that little spell of frustration is having levels and modes in any order, and being able to eliminate any that aren't useful, right down to making them single level lights if you want.
My work headlamp and EDC light, respectively, have groups with as little as 1 level with a sublevel, and 3 progressively spaced levels-2 single brightness and 1 with a sublevel.
The headlamp is dead simple in use; same level whether you press, click, or accidentally double click. Then that level can change with a double click from what I think of as "normal" to "raining", to maintain the same usability in more challenging conditions.
I've got no desire to bump or twist my way through different levels, but it's nice to have options when your uses are highly varied(and to revert back to the factory group now and then to play with a "turbo" mode:D).
 

nightshade

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Mar 19, 2004
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In my happily increasing years, I want it dirt simple. My favorite UI is of the rotary variety.

 
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