Obfuscation

I got a new laptop recently. The main advantage of the new laptop over the old one is that the new one wasn’t run over by a car. Long story…

Anyway while I was selecting my wireless card I was accosted by this astounding product description:

Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (supporting Centrino Pro)

 

The Intel® Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN product is an embedded 802.11a/b/g/Draft N PCIe Mini Card network adapter card that operates in both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz spectrum, delivering high throughput and a host of features that enhance today’s mobile lifestyle. Deploying WLAN technology in your home and business increases productivity, efficiency and flexibility by enabling faster decision making, reducing down-time, and enhancing employee satisfaction. Quad-Mode Solution for maximum flexibility: the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN provides deployment flexibility and connectivity convenience by offering a quad mode (supporting 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N) product, which is capable of connecting to new “Connect with Intel® Centrino®” wireless N Access Points / Routers, but can also connect to any of the legacy Wi-Fi standards, 802.11a, b or g. Data rates up to 300Mbps offer major improvement over today’s 802.11a/g products that deliver 54Mbps. This helps overcome network capacity issues, allowing increased simultaneous network activity for large file transfers, network backups, streaming video, multi-player gaming, VoIP and more.

Here comes a rant with an ulterior motive. The idea is to develop a strong editorial voice in your head. You have to take the red pen to yourself so snarky pricks like me don’t use your product description as a subject of ridicule!

 

After a rote description of the product, the writer chooses to list benefits disconnected from features, benefits that would apply to any competitor:

Deploying WLAN technology in your home and business increases productivity, efficiency and flexibility by enabling faster decision making, reducing down-time, and enhancing employee satisfaction.

Furthermore, these benefits are non sequiturs. Wireless enables faster decision making? Really? Reduces down-time? How can that be — wireless is notoriously less reliable than cabled networks.

 

And is it really necessary, in 2008, to explain the benefits of Wi-Fi? If I’m considering skipping the Wi-Fi card, will this text convince me otherwise? Because it means faster decision-making?

The true benefit of this particular device is buried in the last sentence: Support for the latest Wi-Fi standard means more data per second, which is useful in specific applications like “large file transfers, network backups, streaming video, and VoIP.” That’s more like it. Why did it take 168 words to get to the point?

But I can’t criticize without offering a solution, right? After boiling the goo out of this text, here’s my outline:

  • Supports four different Wi-Fi protocols, so it works in more places and takes advantage of the latest technology.
  • Supports the fastest Wi-Fi standard, so high-bandwidth activities work better.
  • The only card that supports the proprietary Intel N Access Point system

Get into the mindset of the skeptical. Be brutal. Every word counts. Challenge every sentence to advance the cause of either getting the reader’s attention, communicating something specific and useful, or showing how you’re a better choice than the other products on the page. Tie goes to the briefest.