Motorola Insider Blame Game: Engineers Shoved Designers Aside

These days, most in-the-know folks would sooner eat glass than carry a Motorola phone. The company has shredded its reputation by failing to address basic interface design issues: freeze-prone software, head-scratching menus, keys that demand Herculean strength. It's baffling that such a venerable company could build… » 8/20/08 11:00am 8/20/08 11:00am

Now the Gear Will Start: The Gadgetry of World War II

Granted, there isn't much in the way of recognizable gadgetry in my new book, Now the Hell Will Start: One Soldier's Flight from the Greatest Manhunt of World War II. Most of the action takes place in the Indo-Burmese jungle, circa World War II—long before the advent of the integrated circuit. But that doesn't mean… » 6/05/08 11:59am 6/05/08 11:59am

Hype Sheet: Dell's Do-Goodism and the Axe Effect

The Pitch A Super Bowl debut we somehow overlooked, this Dell spot features a cast of thousands swarming around one lucky laptop owner. With an XPS M1530 tucked beneath his arm, our handsome protagonist goes roaming around the streets of a European metropolis, Mick Jagger's "Charmed Life" pumping on the soundtrack.… » 2/14/08 12:40pm 2/14/08 12:40pm

Hype Sheet: HD DVD's Plight in a Nutshell

The Pitch "Originality? We don't need no stinkin' originality!" So sayeth Toshiba's ad agency, which commissioned this stunningly unimaginative Super Bowl spot (which we previously lampooned as the game's "Best Lost Cause"). Three slovenly friends enjoy the big game—sans authorized NFL logos, natch—while cheerleaders… » 2/07/08 12:00pm 2/07/08 12:00pm

Hype Sheet: Electrocution is Comcastic!

The Pitch A harried mother, her face creased with exhaustion and dread, pleads with her son's principal via telephone. It seems that little Sammy's been expelled on account of some violent malfeasance. Mom promises that her demonic offspring has seen the light, but Sammy proves otherwise in the background; he inserts… » 1/31/08 12:20pm 1/31/08 12:20pm

Hype Sheet: Nokia Welcomes Spendthrifts to the "Next Episode"

The Pitch Nokia ramps up its N95 8GB campaign with this lyrical-yet-baffling spot, featuring an array of international archetypes absorbing media in ways that may soon be obsolete: sitting in darkened cinemas, listening to battered boomboxes, watching interference-addled TVs. The narrator's ghostly voice spills forth… » 1/24/08 12:35pm 1/24/08 12:35pm

Hype Sheet: Apple Goes, Quite Gently, for the Jugular

The Pitch Apple sticks with the "dance with the one that brung ya" philosophy for the start of '08, churning out yet another Mac-versus-PC chestnut. This time, though, the tone's a notch more acidic than in spots past—John Hodgman's PC comes off as more flummoxed than usual, readily admitting to Vista's many faults.… » 1/17/08 12:15pm 1/17/08 12:15pm

Hype Sheet Special: Blu-ray vs. HD DVD for All the Marbles

Few things set geek hearts aflutter like a juicy hardware rivalry. Who among us hasn't thoroughly enjoyed taking sides in such legendary throwdowns as Mac versus PC, PlayStation versus Xbox, or (for the truest of old-timers) Atari versus Intellivision? It's thus in our nature to pay excessive attention to the raging… » 1/03/08 12:40pm 1/03/08 12:40pm

Hype Sheet: Back to the Future With Magnavox

The Pitch With mere days left before the dawn of 2008, there's precious little time left to celebrate a geek milestone: the silver anniversary of the incomparable Magnavox Odyssey gaming console. This particular ad, however, aired in early 1973, about nine months after the Odyssey's debut. The oddly unenthusiastic… » 12/27/07 12:00pm 12/27/07 12:00pm

Hype Sheet: Olympus Sees Your Undies

The Pitch An intrepid mountaineer summits a snowy peak, raising his arms in the universal symbol of triumph. The celebratory moment is ruined, however, when his flip phone rings—T-Mobile has apparently been installing cell towers in the Himalayas. The message our intrepid hero receives is an important one: His fly is… » 12/20/07 12:15pm 12/20/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: Pioneer's Nightmarish Vision

The Pitch Someone over at TBWA\Chiat\Day has been reading their Sandman back issues, it seems. How else to explain the terrifying image contained within this Pioneer spot, of teeth embedded in eye sockets—seems to be a direct rip from the Corinthian, no? The stuff of nightmares, perhaps, but also a pretty memorable… » 12/13/07 12:15pm 12/13/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: The Iceman Insists That You're Getting a Dell

The Pitch As part of its sprawling "Star Power" holiday campaign, Dell enlists MMA legend Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell for a tongue-in-cheek shill session. Diction isn't Liddell's forte, alas, so it's a bit tough to understand his entire spiel—especially his use of a money vs. happiness line chart toward the… » 12/06/07 12:15pm 12/06/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: Sirius Plays the Bones, Yells "Domino!"

The Pitch A cleverly conceived journey through the history of sonic media (though, regrettably, the creators don't include the phonograph cylinder). Cassettes, 8-track cartridges and CDs are lined up like so many dominoes, all tumbling with a mighty clack. The surprise comes toward the end, when a crashing jukebox… » 11/29/07 12:15pm 11/29/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: Buy This Computer or You're the Worst Parent Ever

The Pitch Time for a little holiday nostalgia this week, as Hype Sheet goes digging through the crates for this 1983 Texas Instruments gem—a textbook example of preying on parental fears. A blond, bowl-cutted moppet sits on daddy's lap, toying with an educational program on the family's snazzy TI-99/4A. "A Texas… » 11/22/07 12:00pm 11/22/07 12:00pm

Hype Sheet: Juking for Verizon's Sake

The Pitch As a raucous Hardnox tracks kicks in, a nimble-footed, ponytailed cat named Charles does his thing on an unadorned soundstage. And what a thing it is—the sort of gorgeously fluid dancing that makes us Joe Q. Publics curse the gods for failing to grant us such talent. Charles's moves are all the more… » 11/15/07 12:15pm 11/15/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: Acer Ladles Out the Bollywood Cheese

The Pitch Bollywood tropes can be hard for non-Indians to process, and the song-and-dance routine in this Acer spot is no exception. It starts off as a West Side Story clone, with finger-snapping toughs—er, "toughs"—bobbing their heads. But why are they in a prison? And what is matinee idol Hrithik Roshan doing there,… » 11/08/07 1:00pm 11/08/07 1:00pm

Hype Sheet: Philips and the Art of Naked Humiliation (NSFW)


The Pitch A melanin-impaired British bloke, donning nothing more than a pair of heart-splashed boxers and a wireless Philips headset, dances maniacally through his mum's house. All's going swimmingly until our hero slides into the kitchen, where he rocks a little … » 11/01/07 12:15pm 11/01/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: What Happens in Vega$...

The Pitch We've seen this approach before, eh? Looks like one of those AT&T commercials in which a dropped call leads to an awkward situation—a mother spontaneously revealing her sexually licentious past, for example, or Roger Clemens pushing it one season too far. But this schlubby hubby's problem isn't poor… » 10/25/07 5:09pm 10/25/07 5:09pm

Hype Sheet: IBM and the Rage of the IT Underclass

The Pitch A balding butterball stumbles through a barren, Tatooine-like landscape. He's on the search for water, no doubt, but instead he finds a cluster of fridge-sized servers—the gods are obviously displeased with our afflicted protagonist. "The servers are too hot!" he exclaims, before crumbling in a heap. Moments… » 10/18/07 12:15pm 10/18/07 12:15pm

Hype Sheet: The iPhone's Downshift, With a Little Help from Doug

The Pitch Apple does a 180 from its usual DayGlo approach and mounts a man-on-the-street campaign, all in the name of that milestone gadget you either love to love, or love to hate. First up is recent iPhone convert Doug, who ungrammatically hails his non-bricked gizmo as "one of the greatest advancements in the… » 10/10/07 12:58pm 10/10/07 12:58pm