In the run up to the JooVuu X being released, I wanted to run a few blogs from the testers themselves about what it has been like to test and help develop the JooVuu X. This is the first in a series of posts to be posted from the testers themselves. No editing will occur except to alter grammar, spelling, punctuation, layout etc. Please feel free to ask the testers anything and get their opinion on here, the forums (www.joovuu.com/community), or dashcamtalk.
– What is has been like to test the X
Exciting and (sometimes) a bit frustrating. I’ll be the first to admit I like gadgets and I had had a hankering to get an A7 based dashcam for a while. So I was quite excited to have my name picked out of the JooVuu hat and, some time later, receive the JooVuu X. It has been exciting to see the new features get activated and observe them working: for example, being able to preview footage from my smartphone was certainly enjoyable, as my current dashcam, a Mobius, whilst great, does not have a screen. On the other hand, the frustration stems from the obvious fact that we are beta testing and things don’t necessarily work first time round. We are all realists enough to understand that what works under lab conditions doesn’t always translate into the myriad of (sometimes unexpected ways) a real person makes use of the camera in the real world. So, from time to time, there’s been something I test, it doesn’t work, something is done to address the problem, I test again, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t (and sometimes it is me doing something stupid too) and then repeat the whole process again. This can get frustrating, but, c’mon, that’s what beta testing is all about.
– What you think about it
I like it. There you are, of course I am biased :-), but let’s look a bit more into this. You will hear the (reasonable) assertion that you can’t get an unbiased feel about the JooVuu X from people who have been given one to play with. Having said that, on one level, *everyone* will have a *subjective* opinion, whoever they are, and whether they have been given a camera, bought a camera or something else. Dan appeared to do his best to take a random group of people and ask them to beta test the product as part of the development process. As far as I am concerned, he has always encouraged us to report both the good and the bad. What has come across in my interactions with him and his team is his/their dedication to providing the best product he/they can within sensible business constraints. This attitude has, of course, influenced me to feel positive about the way he is going about developing the JooVuu X and the product itself.
So more about why I like it. Well I like the form-factor – I bought a Mobius originally as it is a discreet dashcam which fulfilled my other requirements. Similarly the “X” is small, discreet and (not to be ignored) feels well made. The fact that one can review the images on a Smartphone is one I feel convenient (of course you can pop the microSD card of a Mobius in your own phone (or use some special USB cable) if you need to show someone, but an App is convenient). I like that fact that it has a variety of modes (some better for night time driving) and that I can switch between them. You can’t please all of the people all the time, but at least it provides flexibility where it can. Basically I like the fact that it is a capable dashcam in a form factor that suits my purposes with functionality and performance I can use.
– Has it been good/has it been bad? – What’s been good/whats been bad?
There have been good and bad bits. The sense of dedication and community has been great. Dan and his team have been responsive, communicated well and never told us we were being stupid when we exhibited those “doh” moments. The other beta testers are all individuals (“I’m not” – guess the movie reference) and have shown much dedication to helping make this a good product. So it has been great to be part of a friendly team with a sense of purpose. In case you think this is just a sycophantic praising of Dan et al….well of course I realise nothing is perfect. We can tell the pressure he is under running a business, trying to get a product out there and juggling outside commitments at the same time. Hey, I’m only beta testing one thing and I find it hard enough finding the time to do the product testing justice, perform my job and spend time with my family; so it is understandable if JooVuu HQ may occasionally not be as responsive as they would like to be (I would point out that this has not been my personal experience, but I read the JooVuu related posts). I think what this experience has proved is that there is often a human story and matters going on which we are totally unaware of when someone bad-mouths a product or a service. Of course, some people are only out to make a buck at the expense of others, but it really doesn’t feel that this is the situation here.
Another thing to talk about is “It does take time”. We are all keen to have a good product out there, but the consequence of that is testing and testing again. Sometimes fixes break things that were working before. Again if you are being a beta tester it goes with the territory, but the number of hours spent testing the JooVuu X is significant….and don’t think we will have caught everything. When it comes out, someone, somewhere will use it in a particular circumstance which will be obvious in retrospect, but won’t have been encountered previously and there will be a bug. I am sure Dan et al will try and fix it (often, the beauty of firmware updates permit this (not always, though)), but don’t think it will be perfect out of the door.
Initially I didn’t realise how tightly coupled the firmware releases and the APP releases had to be. We would get a shiny new app release and then that would have to wait on a new version of the firmware. This is something that probably won’t affect end-users because, by the time of release, all the aspects controllable from the application(s) may well be linked and enabled in the firmware, but it was a little disconcerting to have a shiny button aching to be pressed in the APP to realise that actually that won’t work yet until the firmware has caught up. Obvious in retrospect really, but something I didn’t appreciate from the beginning. Later on the firmware/app releases became more highly synchronised so that this situation doesn’t come up so much anymore.
So, in summary, it’s been an experience (so far) of ups and downs with a sense of progression (not always smooth) towards a really good product. It’s been a privilege to work with a great team of people, who are at times tired and frustrated, but dedicated and generous (of time, experience and sympathy). I still believe in my, admittedly, biased way, that Dan and the team have set out to try and produce a quality product satisfying a fair set of requirements (it is not meant to be all things for all situations). I hope it succeeds in fulfilling those requirements and succeeds as a product.