Thursday, June 16, 2011

Worst Feature Ever: WiFi Toggle Switch On Your Laptop

I get a phone call from my Mother-in-Law a few hours ago: her Internet is down. It was up yesterday, but now her computer won't connect. To her credit she's done an impressive amount of debugging before calling me: checked the router, rebooted twice, etc.

I was about to suggest she call her ISP, when I thought I better confirm that she can at least see her local WiFi gateway. Alas, she can't.

Which brings me to the worst feature of any hardware device ever: the WiFi toggle switch on laptops.

After some experimenting, we find the switch, she presses it and she's back in business. Hours of tech support averted because of a single button press.

This all has me wondering:

  1. Why, why, WHY! do I need a switch on my laptop dedicated to disabling WiFi? Of all the things I need to do, why make this so that simply handling the laptop in the wrong way triggers it? I feel like it has some sort of security ramifications behind it, or maybe for that airline flight. But still, even without the button, you could offer this capability.
  2. OK, I'll buy the argument that *need* this button. Then why the heck don't you standardize on it?! I've got 4 laptops in view, and each of them use a different switch in a different location to control the same thing. My Mother-in-Law told me she had an HP Pavilion, which I found a manual for on the web. When I described to her where the button was, it wasn't even close. Her model is apparently different.
  3. OK, fine, you need the ability to customize the button and hide it in a new location for every model you make. Why the heck can't you put a huge screen on message: "WiFi isn't working because you flipped the switch to turn it off." Even I've accidentally hit the WiFi disabling button (it's a push button on my Dell Vostro, right on the front panel), and had to spend 15 minutes debugging the problem. As far as Windows is concerned, there are no WiFi points to connect to. Yeah, not exactly.

OK, so it was a bad idea. But why the heck do they keep putting on on laptops?!

It's like the numeric keypad overlaid the regular keypad on a laptop - I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to someone, but does anyone, seriously, anyone, actually use it?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:33 PM

    The reason for a toggle switch is in unfortunate situation where malware has taken over your computer / screen. Allowed me to save my documents.