Small Rant - The Trouble with High-End Electronics

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ralph Summa, Feb 13, 2002.

  1. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    I entered the high priced electronic equipment world last February when I bought a 55" Mits HD-Ready TV. Since then I have been amazed at the rate of failure of so called high end equipment. It seems the more things cost, the sooner and more frequently they break.

    I bought a Hughes E-86 HD receiver and was so proud to show it off on Christmas day. Three weeks later it was dead in the water. I endured 38 days of "It broke already?" I got it back yesterday and now have to wonder if the DirecTV "upgrade", which did NOT screw up my unit in December, will wreak havoc on it this time. Many Hughes/Toshiba/Mits HD STB owners are on their 2nd and 3rd replacement boxes.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, after months of exhaustive research, I was getting ready to purchase a JVC DVD player that has all the features I want AND fits into my (wife's) budget. A few days before I am about to make my purchase, I begin to read about the unit locking up while playing certain dual layer dvds. Sending it back to the manufacturer was the only fix. So, I bag the JVC idea at the last minute and get a Panasonic with less features that still fits into my (wife's) budget. Now I must explain to the two family members who bought JVC DVD players on my recommendation why I went with a different brand of player.

    I won't even get into "Upgraditis", DVI/Firewire, downrezzing, copyprotection, etc. etc. Are we getting what we paid for, and is it worth all the aggravation? When can I finally relax and enjoy the show?

    So as I sit in front of my 55" RPTV sweating about the burn-in on the NBC Olympic Logo or the ticker on ESPN 2, or looking for the flicker bug on my DVDs, or wondering if my "unauthorized" Yamaha receiver will seize up, I think of my father-in-law, happy as a clam, sitting in front of his 11 year old 27" Quasar TV, watching VHS tapes on his 10 year old Zenith VCR listening to stereo through the TV's speakers, I wonder....HOW CAN HE FALL ASLEEP IN FRONT OF THE TV?
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  3. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    It's not just my recent experience that inspired my rant. I have followed recent posts all over the various HT forums about a bad batch of Toshiba RPTVs arriving DOA to several owners. There was a thread regarding the problems with the Sony HD100. I have also been following ongoing threads about Mits/Tosh/Hughes STBs going haywire after receiving a DirecTV upgrade. Harmon Kardon DVD50 had initial problems, Panasonic RP91 and the Philips Q50 needed firmware upgrades right off the bat. I could go on and on. I do consider myself somewhat lucky, but I was still a little pissed about 5 weeks without my Hughes box. I had a half-hour conversation with the guy who repaired it which got me even more fired up. He stated that Hughes made him pay $450 C.O.D. for the replacement board for my box and now he has to bill Hughes for parts and labor. Note: I only paid $500 for the box. I pleaded with Hughes customer support to send me a new box but they insisted on fixing it.

    If I didn't frequent these forums, I wouldn't know about all these problems. Then I would be J6P. Sometimes when I hear "Ignorance is bliss" I think that no truer words were ever spoken.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Hey, you shoulda seen how things were in the heyday of so-called "high-end audio." It seemed as the vacuum-tube meisters, Audio Research Corporation, de facto used their customer base as a means of field-testing the company's oft-unreliable products. In fact, review samples of the original M300 vacuum-tube monster amplifier failed when The Audio Critic's Peter Aczel tried to assess the beasts.

    As good as Audio Research's products seemed to sound, living with them was as patience-trying as a high-end Italian sports car.
     
  6. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I've noticed a trend in the decreasing reliability of newer products. We often use the phrase "they just don't make things like they used to." I think the problem is our fault...as consumers. Very few people are willing to pay for quality. Just look at how successful Wal*mart is at selling extremely low quality products at extremely low prices. How can electronics companies try to compete in a market that has $75 DVD players coming out of China and selling like hot cakes to Wal*mart shoppers? They have to lower costs. There are many ways to lower cost like increasing production (but you have to have a demand in order to sell through that inventory) or by using lower quality parts, cheaper labor, or decreased quality control.

    It's been a constant downward spiral, and I think it's being fed by the "instant gratification" that we often are suckers to. "I've got $100 and I saw a DVD player I can buy. I'll get it now instead of saving another $300 to get something else later that will probably last longer."

    Just look at E-machines...the disposable computer. It's entire existance was based on the "got to have it now...I don't care how long it lasts" mentallity. The thing that stopped buyers wasn't the lack of quality, but the poor customer service. If they had good customer service I'm sure businesses and consumers would continue to dismiss its extremely poor quality hardware and continue to buy more of these things...and in the long run end up spending even more money than if they had just forked out the cash from the beginning on something that works well.
     
  7. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    Bill,

    You're absolutely right, it is our fault. We've been driven into a bargain hunter/gatherer society and it only stands to reason that "we get what we pay for". I've uttered those words myself when something cheap would break, and then I would toss whatever it was in the garbage. Most of the time it is because it would be cheaper to replace a broken product with a new one made in China, Taiwan, Malaysia...than to have someone here in the States repair it. It a miserable cycle.

    Good point Michael, we do tend to be a bit louder when something doesn't perform as it should. Doesn't bad news travel 11 times faster than good news? You don't see threads saying "MY PANASONIC RP91 IS WORKING GREAT! WHAT DO I DO?" or "I DON'T GET BURN-IN FROM HGTV's LOGO SIGN THE PETITION!"

    I hate the thought of frivolous lawsiuts but I hope that consumers reap the benefits of suits like the one vs. Panasonic and JVC. Hopefully it will lead to better quality products and not just higher prices. I tend to doubt it though...
     
  8. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    Ya know, Bill, I've been running a little $400 E-Machines computer for almost 3 years now with no problems except for a failed modem. That cost me $25 and a few minutes to fix. I wish I could say the same about the $3000 Gateway I bought back in '95. It seems as though every component on it has failed at some time or another. But I will admit that Gateway's support was superb.
     
  9. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Tim - You're one of the lucky ones. Everybody I know that has bought E-machines has had major problems with them. Example: My wife's uncle had a power supply go out on one. He called their customer support to have them ship him a new one (it was still under warrenty). They refused to ship him a new one and told him he needs to send in the computer and they'll replace it for free. They'll replace the whole computer! Not just the power supply. That means that the upgraded hard drive needs to be pulled and the old one put back in. But he didn't have the old hard drive...and he couldn't send it back without a hard drive. He had to just go out and buy a new power supply himself, at additional cost to him even though it's warrentied.
    E-machines are not built to last...they're built to survive just long enough until the next upgrade, where instead of buying new parts you just buy a new computer.
    It's a pretty good idea actually and I don't knock that. In order to keep the prices down they had to use inferior hardware, that's all I'm saying. As for your Gateway experience...well, that's a whole 'nother can o'worms. [​IMG] But I think it does reflect the state of the downward trend of quality these days.
     

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