Monday, March 07, 2011

Humintell MiX Professional Product Review

Humintell is expanding its product family with MiX Professional and comes with new and awaited features. This in-depth review covers the high and low points of this new product and gives an insight as whether or not this product is for you.

Where does MiX Professional stand?
MiX Professional is an improvement over the MiX product line as it offers more than MiX Lite and MiX Original. It comes with a plethora of new and exciting content such as new instructional videos and texts and new practice images.

This product has a different roadmap than MiX 2 since it focuses on additional instructions and evolutionary vestige videos rather than practice. The practice is worthwhile but it only comes with frontal view to the contrary to its counterpart, which offers three views (frontal, profile and 3/4th). MiX Professional takes into account the various applications and subtleties of reading micro and subtle expressions can have whereas MiX 2 is more generic in that respect.

Instructional Videos
The instructional videos have been updated with new faces and new comments. The training includes frontal only videos on the seven universal emotions, possible confusions among similar-looking emotions, and Evolutionary Vestige videos. They are by all means instructive and enjoyable.

The texts following instructional videos in regard to each emotion are also noteworthy. They contain triggers and functions of the given emotion, FACS scores along with an image, and associated non-verbal behaviour. The FACS scores require knowledge of the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) but it may very well create interest from customers to learn the coding system since it is part of the science behind reading faces.

The pillar of MiX Professional is the Evolutionary Vestige videos, which provides a great insight about where emotions come from and why they are displayed in the way they are. These videos are not adding to the commentaries because they are the same instructional videos with a different commentary. The commentaries are informative and will be enjoyed by customers who are interested in expanding their knowledge rather than their skills.

Additional videos aim to prepare you to understand and see the subtle differences between confusing emotions. Some emotions are indeed partially similar to each other and it makes their recognition considerably more difficult. MiX Professional videos display those emotions side by side, making it easy to see the actual differences between similar-looking emotions. These videos are informative and have an immediate practical value.

Practice & Post-Test
The practice and post-test are similar to most other products from Humintell. The practice comes with new images. The images suffer from the same problems as mentioned in MiX 2 product review, such as the ability to memorize the content and answers without actually recognizing the emotions. There is nonetheless a noticeable improvement in the image quality as the images appear to be visually more consistent.

The post-test displays 14 micro expressions from the practice images lot that have to be identified. A scoring board appears once completed giving you your average score and scores for each emotion, all in percentile.

The practice and post-test feel short in comparison to the instructional videos that have been added. There are roughly three (3) times more instructional videos in MiX Professional than in MiX Original. In short, this is an excellent training but it wouldn't hurt to have more images.

updated! Product Confusion
The rapid expansion of Humintell's product family gives a greater choice to the customers but it can be somewhat confusing to those who are not knowledgeable in the field. The confusion is greater at times because Humintell does not conform to what other software vendors are doing by using version numbers to denote different set of features rather than using editions as a family branding strategy.

Fortunately, Humintell has taken my suggestion last year to create comparative tables comparing its products (see MiX and SubX tables). Those tables dissipate all the previous confusions mentioned in my product review on Additional Training but may not dissipate future confusion.

Microsoft has suffered from a similar problem since Windows Vista and perpetuated it on Windows 7, where there are plenty of editions and sub-editions to choose from. Even the well rounded charts (see Windows Vista, Windows 7 and here) make it difficult to know what to buy and definitively gets in the way of a quick purchase — one-click style.

It would be a good idea to make sure that the distinctions among products are properly and clearly expressed, as each product will evolve over time, to avoid further confusion and complex charts. Renaming some products and give proper version and/or edition could be a great marketing strategy to circumvent any such problems.

Online Service updated!
Every product has been updated to preload images, to the exception of D3 and ICAPS, as I have previously suggested. Lagging is no longer an issue. The system still interacts with the server to verify your answers but it does not interfere with the actual training. A simple solution to make the user experience considerably better, thanks!

The Lost Features
The products offered by Humintell are now available as a one-year subscription. Many customers and potential customers might feel that companies attempt to milk them in so many ways these days and the value for money is considerably diminished by such tactics. Fortunately, one-year is more than enough to master what the products are training you for. Humintell confirmed that most of their customers no longer train after a month.

My advice is to practice with those products for few weeks followed by an occasional come back; and, finally, put your practice to work in real life once you have mastered reading micro and subtle expressions.

The ability to set speed at which micro and subtle expressions are displayed is no longer available and it is a great lost. Humintell has explained to me that some changes were necessary for research purpose and I consider this a good reason for such limitation. My understanding is that Humintell is collecting data from the training of its customers and collecting a greater sample of data will undoubtedly improve the content of Humintell's products in the future.

MiX Professional is offered at $69.00 USD. This product offers more features than MiX Original, which is offered at $59.00 USD, and less but also different features than MiX 2, which is offered at $79.00 USD. All considerations taken into account makes this product a fair and well-balanced deal at the offered price.

updated! End-User License Agreement
Humintell is currently investigating its End-User License Agreement according to the concerns I have outlined in my previous product review. It is noteworthy to mention that Dr. Paul Ekman's micro and subtle expression online training, METT, METT Advanced and SETT, have a similar EULA. Humintell will gain a significant competitive advantage by improving its End-User License Agreement.

Public Relation and Customer Support updated!
Humintell is a company about recognizing and understanding human emotions and it's true to its core because it is reflected in its customer support. It offers one of the best customer support I have experienced in my career. One year later (see here), Humintell lives up to the test of time. The customer support is flawless and consistently so. The staff is patient, understanding and open minded, which are all rare qualities nowadays. It also takes a great amount of wisdom to handle criticism the manner it is handled by Humintell's staff.

Give Demos a Try...
Newcomers? Give a try to MiX 2 and SubX demos that are available for free.

Summary: Pros & Cons

  • Quality content, images and videos
  • Provides unique and comprehensible content
  • Online support improvements
  • Outstanding customer support
  • Fair price

MiX Professional delivers a good software that goes beyond the mere practice by bringing its content to the next level. Those who seek further information about emotions along with great tips will be served with this product. While it is timidly distant from its relatives, MiX and MiX 2, it comes at a fair price and it has a promising future where the differences will be greater and the content increasingly bigger.

I recommend Humintell's MiX Professional.

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