Toshiba's Field-Testing Experiment Doesn't Go Far Enough
My toddler son has entered the annihilatory stage of his relationship with objects. His three favorite pastimes, in no particular order, are emptying a basket filled with baseballs and launching them down the stairs, one by one; using the mini-mallet that came with a recent toy purchase to survey the textural hardiness of our windows and TV screens; and fashioning a crude drum kit out of pots and pans, then attempting to best the 24-minute duration of "Moby Dick." And while the swath of adorable destruction he has cut through our living quarters has prompted trips to Home Depot and queries about the utility of straightjackets in child-rearing, I'm secretly thrilled that he is extending my legacy of blithe chaos. Really, the detonations, concussive squalls and ninja daredevil lunges off the lip of the tub are positively darling.
But though I remain a fan of rambunctiousness in this and all other guises, I still can't get behind Toshiba's "Field Testing with Matt & Jamie." The five-clip series unleashes two sunny goobers on a trio of Toshiba products, which they evaluate under conditions of exaggerated duress.
They lug a flat-screen TV into a sauna to assess its performance in humid atmospheres, strap one laptop into a paint-shaker to determine how well it weathers vibration and rumble over another laptop in a monster truck to test its ability to withstand pressure. As they do so, they banter dryly and mindlessly - think the Jackass crew, but with a solid 37.5 percent more hipster detachment.
Mostly I question the underlying necessity of the exercise: specifically, whether any potential buyer really cares about the toughness/humidity tolerance/etc. of the products involved. Perhaps I'm overgeneralizing here, but computer-needin' individuals on the go - ostensibly the potential audience for the hardy laptops Toshiba flogs, literally, in these clips - are likely to turn to an iPad or other tablet nowadays. When watching Matt and Jamie test the laptop's susceptibility to pressure (again, literally), I found myself wishing they'd test its ability to withstand the pressure of three different browsers simultaneously running 26 programs and 12 YouTube clips. And when they hooked a laptop up to jumper cables to affirm its… I dunno, lack of shockability?... I cut away to check my email.
In the end, the field-testing bit is nowhere near as fun or anarchic as it should be, mostly because Toshiba doesn't take it far enough. I realize that current sensitivities prevent the company from, say, trauma-testing the laptops using a constitutionally protected high-ammo bazooka. But couldn't a turbo-rigged tennis-ball machine have been part of the proceedings? What about an industrial carpet steamer?
The average teenage miscreant could've devised funnier and more outlandish scenarios of wanton destruction without breaking a sweat. And the barely visible fine print ("field test results may not represent or guarantee actual performance in the real world") sure doesn't enhance the auras of bedlam and lawlessness.
It's silly to talk about plausibility or suspension of disbelief in a situation where a laptop is subjected to a high-intensity car wash, but I wish Toshiba had looked to the Looney Tunes reels of yore for inspiration. No careless deployment of dynamite or gravity-propelled anvils = no dice.