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Creative Labs' PC-DVD Player

The following guest review was provided by visitor Ilari Sani.
Inducted 4-April-2000

Creative Labs' PC-DVD Player

The Creative PC-DVD application has a host of bad design elements. I have included a screenshot, but not all of the problems are visible from the image. Here is the list of flaws I could spot:
  1. The biggest flaw is the feature called "virtual remote". Since remote controls have a ton of little rectangular buttons with tiny icons and no labels, using that metaphor for a computer program makes it easier to use. Sure.

  2. Ditto for LCD screens. Garish colours on a black background and tiny, indecipherable icons abound. Could somebody please tell the designers that screen technology has advanced beyond CGA?

  3. The title in the info screen should read "Beetlejuice 16x9", but there's not enough room to fully display the title.

  4. There are icons and indicators for language, volume etc. in the screen, making them appear like controls. Nope, the controls are below, marked with similar (but not identical) icons. Care to track which button lights up an indicator where?

  5. The "slow reverse" and "step backward" buttons don't actually do anything. I guess the designers thought symmetry was pretty.

  6. You can operate DVD menus by clicking on them, or by using the arrow and enter keys on your keyboard. The people at Creative didn't somehow think this was enough, so they included their own set of arrow and enter keys on the "virtual remote". Why anyone would use these is beyond me.

  7. The program consists of two separate windows. They even show up as two different applications in the taskbar. They're a hassle to manage, and totally non-standard.

  8. Disabled buttons don't have tool tips.

  9. The window controls on the video window are totally unstandard. Three of the five options are actually disabled by default! (And hence have no tool tips, so you can't even guess how to enable them through their function.

  10. The default setting that disables the three buttons is "auto aspect resize", which locks the window height/width ratio. The behaviour of this feature is strange indeed. When resizing from the left or right edges, everything works fine. When you try to resize by dragging the bottom edge of the window, it just snaps back. Dragging the top edge causes the bottom edge to move into ratio, effectively moving the window around instead of resizing.

  11. Once in fullscreen mode, there is no obvious way to get back to windowed mode. Left click, right click, press Esc or any key you like to no avail. The only way to leave fullscreen mode is to double-click. Less than intuitive, I'd say.

  12. When in fullscreen mode, you can no longer see the "virtual remote". Instead, you get to have even more fun by picking playback options from a right-click menu. Since there is no good reason to watch DVDs in a window, this makes the whole remote pretty much useless.

  13. There is no way to make fullscreen operation the default when starting the application, despite the fact that most users will want to view their movies fullscreen.

  14. The player allows you to mark places in movies with bookmarks. (Talk about mixed metaphors.) When you click on "Place bookmark here", the actual bookmark is placed several seconds later. You can't place a bookmark when paused, nor adjust the position afterwards. Good luck on hitting the right spot.

  15. There is a help function, but it's only accessible by pressing F1 or right-clicking the video window and selecting help.

  16. Playback can be controlled with keyboard shortcuts, yet none of these are documented in the help file.

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GP designpartners provide this mirror — for educational purposes only — as the interface hall of shame is no longer maintained or available at its original home, [a domain apparently abandoned and taken over by a search spammer ...].

you can view this file in its original layout: pcdvd.htm.

please drop us a line if you happen to know anything about the whereabouts of brian c hayes of isys information architects, the author of this »interface hall of shame« [and fame].