Perhaps you guys remember that I wrote about the Neurosky Mindset last year. Having found this product, I was very enthousiastic about it, until I actually tried it, and found out it was less brilliant than I'd expected. Some of the things that bothered me the most was crashes under Windows 7, poor audio quality, and having to adjust the headset for 20 minutes until finally getting a strong enough signal.
Well, here's a twist for you: Neurosky found my blog, dug up my e-mail address and offered to send me a replacement Mindset, suspecting that my unit was defective. How's that for tech support! Naturally I agreed, and one week later the replacement unit was on my desk.
I really want to write "I tried it, and this time it worked perfectly", but I can't... I tried it first on my Windows 7 PC, after removing all traces of the software and bluetooth driver I installed again from scratch, and a blue screen appeared 10 minutes later. Switching to my XP laptop the software was perfectly stable though, and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to get more than 3 bars of signal out of the mindset, which is required to get the cool indicators (attention, meditation) to work in the brainwave visualizer. Not much luck though.
Wanting to know whether it was the unit's fault or my fault I brought the thing to work, and had some of my friends try it. Interestingly they had more luck than me! The ninja only known as Kat, whose link to the force is very strong, managed to get the maximum five bars of signal almost without adjusting the headset. This guy's brainwaves are so strong he could control the mindset from across the room and still get a signal. Two other guys also got quite a good reception. In the group of weak-minded people there was me and two others.. Interestingly, the only person with no signal was the only girl in the group, Wendy. My remark to her - "No signal, no brain?" - was quickly met with a painful slap to one of my vital areas.
So, I am theorizing that I get a weak signal because of one of two reasons: either the headset is not making contact properly with my forehead, or my brain signals are too weak. This may me just a crazy hunch, but it seems that people with flat foreheads get a good signal, and people with round foreheads get a weak signal, but don't quote me on that. Also, hair gets in the way easily and causes the signal to disappear, as Wendy demonstrated.
Still, I now have proof that the unit is fine, so I can try to improve my own signal. I've been wanting to write a data logging app that logs each frequency's activity over time, to see if I can link specific brainwaves to specific activities, like gaming, writing or listening to music. The results might be interesting. While one of my friends was testing the mindset, he wanted to increase the meditation slider to maximum, but he couldn't no matter how hard (soft?) he tried. We told him to close his eyes and relax, since in my case that brings meditation to the max in seconds. In his case though, the attention meter went to 100% instead. I guess he tried too hard to relax.
There's a lot of cool experiments to do with this thing. If anyone reading this is considering buying a Mindset, I'd say try it out first if you can. Once you're convinced that it works for you, or that you can make it work, get it.