What do you buy the woman who has everything? A box to put it all in? The wife bought her main Christmas present at the airport on the way to Chicago, and it’s been tucked away ever since. It’s a handbag… can’t remember what make… Gucci or something like that. I’m about as interested in handbags as she is in catadioptric telescopes. Anyway, being a generous sort of guy, I recognise the need to purchase some Christmas surprises for the current Mrs Adams. But what…?
Okay, I have a small list. Then I saw the Technika Viewbox. Excellent, the wife loves her iPod and likes to download music videos from iTunes. And it was reduced to 75 quid. Perfect. So I decided to get down to Tesco to have a look at the technology close-up.
One thing you should be aware of is that we’re only 7 minutes away from the nearest branch of Tesco (which is located right next to one of the UK’s largest branches of Marks & Spencer). Yes, 7 minutes… if you drive there at 03:00. On a Saturday afternoon a few weeks before Christmas it’s a marathon trek. Anyway, I arrived, I parked in the nearest possible parking space to the entrance of Tesco (about half a mile away), bumped into my frolleague Jon Adams (no relation, but we have an amusing story about both walking through the door of 10 Downing Street), and found the Viewboxes. And then it struck me… maybe I should have bought an iPod with me.
After returning home and seeing to a couple of errands (including the usual father-chauffuer weekend job) I made some excuses and returned to Tesco. I parked half a mile from the entrance and walked through the rain, got to the Viewboxes, and stuck in Lauren’s iPod nano (because she has more movies than I do). After 5 minutes of fiddling about I worked out that there’s a setting on the iPod to tell it to output a video signal, and this successfully displayed a movie on the Viewbox’s screen. Pretty good… not Sony / Panasonic quality, but we’re talking 75 quid. At this point I started to over-analyse whether this would be something the wife would use, so decided to return home and do some subtle investigations.
Later – during a commercial break in Get Me A Celebrity, I’m Out Of Here – they showed an ad for the Viewbox. “Terrific” said the wife, “I’ve always wanted something like that”. Excellent. “Darren, pop down to Tesco tomorrow and get one”. Oh great.
So by 10:30 this morning I was back down at Tesco. As there’s fewer places for people to go on Sunday, the traffic was worse (even with my local-boy knowledge short-cut). I parked half a mile away from the door, and made my way to the Viewboxes. Hmmm, less in stock than yesterday, but still quite a few. I tried the wife’s iPod touch on the display model… slightly different procedure for getting it working, but fine nevertheless. I queued, I paid, I walked back to the car, and drove home.
Back in the kitchen the wife removed the Viewbox from the packaging, plugged it in and docked her iPod. She selected ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ by the now botox-ridden Mariah Carey. There was Mariah’s dulcet tones but no image… just some jumping lines. I ensured the iPod was docked properly. I tried my iPod. I tried the wife’s again. Nope… out of all the Viewboxes piled around the display model I’d picked the one that was kanckered.
Back in the car, back down to Tesco, parked slightly more than half a mile away from the door (everyone in Surrey was there now), walked back through the rain, through the door and to customers services. There was a small queue, which got longer as an elderly woman went through the process of a new mobile phone being activated. I was a hair’s breadth away from shouting “blimey love, go home and read the effin’ manual” when her transaction ended. After two more people it was my turn. They swapped it without an argument (that concerns me, I wonder how many more had been returned) and I asked if I could test the new one rather than be subjected to a fifth visit in one weekend. I got it out and plugged it in, and then docked my own iPod. At this point it’s worth noting that I only have one movie on my iPod – the DVD of ‘Incubus Live At Red Rocks’. And thus at full volume, the first song ripped out across the store with the delightful lyrics “Hey mega-lo-maniac, you’re no Jesus, yeah, you’re no f***ing Elvis”. Thankfully this was accompanied by live footage of California’s finest, so I repacked the Viewbox, walked back into the rain and returned home.
The Viewbox is now installed in the kitchen, the wife is extremely happy, she’s downloaded lots of music videos for Christmas songs… but I still need to get her something for Christmas.