Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wow, Mom! Thanks for the Eyestrain!

Nowadays, of course, it's a rare minivan that isn't equipped with a back-seat DVD player for the kids.  But in the mid-1990's, Magnavox was breaking new ground with their after-market mobile video and gaming unit, the Sideshow:

It's not a bad idea, but it's not very practical as illustrated here.  The children appear to be playing Sonic the Hedgehog on an 8" screen, from a distance of several feet away.

This is forcing the driver's daughter to lean forward, dramatically reducing her seat belt's ability to keep her from hurtling through the windshield in the event of a sudden stop.  Meanwhile, her brother sits back and watches, pretends to enjoy the Green Hill Zone music, and desperately wishes that Mom had loaded up a 2-player game before pulling out of the driveway.

With historical hindsight, it's clear why the Gameboy was successful and this was not -- a tiny screen twelve inches away beats a larger screen two and a half feet away, and nobody wanted to de-install the unit to bring it into Grandma's house or move it to Dad's car.

At least Magnavox resisted the urge to build their own Odyssey2 technology into the Sideshow -- Speedway! / Spin-Out! / Cryptologic! remains unexciting at any speed, and Pick Axe Pete! doesn't pick nearly as much axe as one might assume.

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