Something troubling that Thomas J. Norton wrote in the latest SGHT.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jack Briggs, Dec 19, 2001.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [Though this post concerns the reliability or otherwise of RPTVs, it's more "philosophical" in nature than the sorts of posts one finds in "TVs and Projectors." Hence, I put it here.]

    In the current issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, a reader wrote in the Letters column about his four-year-old Pioneer RPTV having expired on him. He went on to complain that the unit had been in a service center for three weeks and that none of the technicians had even looked at it.

    Bad enough. But then the letter-writer asked about the reliability and lifespan of RPTVs in general.

    Editor Thomas J. Norton, in replying, justifiably noted that the magazine has no reliable way of tracking the service records of major manufacturers. Yet--and this is the truly disturbing part--Mr. Norton stated that four trouble-free years sounds like a pretty good deal for an RPTV.

    Really?

    Is that the best one can expect after having plunked down $2,000 or more for a current HD-capable RPTV?

    Of course, RPTVs are more delicate and finicky than their direct-view cousins. But, in my view, I would expect much longer trouble-free service from any television for which I have paid more than a thousand big ones.

    Some OEMs are better than others, of course. Televisions with weak power supplies and which are constantly overdriven can be expected to fail sooner than a better-made set from a quality OEM that has been properly calibrated.

    That letter-writer, being an SGHT reader, probably operated his Pioneer within its limits.

    A four-year lifespan does not seem reasonable at all. True, the products coming from Thomson, for example, are not good bets in terms of reliability. But a Pioneer? A Panasonic? A Toshiba? We expect more from those OEMs.

    Don't we?
     
  2. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2001
    Messages:
    796
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    FOUR YEARS?!??! THAT'S ALL??!?!!
     
  3. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 1999
    Messages:
    2,312
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a 14-year old Denon CD player, that works and sounds fantastic.
    I have an eight year old Sony 27" TV, and its picture looks like new.
    If my now one year old, $5000 Pioneer Elite HDTV only lasts four years, I will be PISSED! Big time! And it will be the last Pioneer product I ever purchase. And I will tell everyone I know about their quality. This would be very bad for them- the last time a company got on my bad side (AT&T), I got 28 people to switch to a competitor. Me, vindictive? Nooo...[​IMG]
    I fully expect a ten year life, easy. Unless, of course, I upgrade next year.[​IMG]
    Todd
     
  4. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2000
    Messages:
    5,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    4 years is a joke. If a >$2000 RPTV doesn't last longer than that, I'd be very pissed.

    We had a Panasonic TV that lasted 16 years, are today's products really designed so poorly that 4 years is considered good?

    /Mike
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,514
    Likes Received:
    707
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    I'll get back to you in 3 years and 6 months. I'll either happily say I had a different experience, or I'll be really pissed. [​IMG]
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,749
    Likes Received:
    480
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    My cheapo RPTV is going on 5.5 years, and the damn thing won't DIE! I secretly pray that it would DIE so I could have an excuse to go buy a nice new 16x9 capable RPTV!
     
  7. Bill Cowmeadow

    Bill Cowmeadow Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 5, 1999
    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The term 'Durable Goods' comes to mind. Current quality standards, ISO, Baldridge Etc. define durable goods as items that last approximately 8 years.

    Anyone remember how long their mothers fridge lasted? It's a good bet yours won't last much past 8 years.

    It's economics.
     
  8. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2000
    Messages:
    1,138
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have an older Pioneer 46" cinemawide RPTV and have had it since 1994. Its just started experiencing some loss of horizontal hold on a couple of the guns but does disappear shortly after it gets warm.

    That's been the extent of the problem and I've moved once so that jostled the TV a bit. I also finished the basement which caused major dust but I completely shrink wrapped it with industrial wrap.

    So its about 7 1/2 years old and its still running pretty good.

    Patrick
     
  9. Paul O

    Paul O Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2000
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a wonderful 27" Panasonic Super Flat TV that i bought in 1992 for $1000 (with matching stand) which was my first "serious" investment in AV equipment - i still remember thinking how big the picture size was. The picture is still beautiful by todays standards and it works flawlessly. Ditto for a 1994 Sony VCR - I have a Marantz SR7000 thats built like a tank that i love and fully expect it to last 20 years. The only problem ive experienced with my equipment is - yep, a New Toshiba RPTV whose picture has gone out within 3 months of being purchased. These things are prone to failure and i cross my fingers whenver i turn mine on.
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,514
    Likes Received:
    707
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Eight years sounds fine with me. Of course I'd love for my new PT-47 to last 15 years like my old Sony tube did. But I think if I can squeeze 8 good years out of it I won't mind so much when it's time to repurchase. And lets face it, I'll probably want a new TV in 8 years.

    4, though, is way to short a time for a product to work.
     
  11. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2000
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Real Name:
    CJ Paul
    I agree that its getting pretty sad how short things last now. My parents have a refridgerator from the 1950s and an International (yes, the company that makes tractors) deep freeze from the late 40s. Both run fine. OTOH, they are on their second 3rd TV (all 27") 2nd fridge, 2nd dishwasher and 2nd oven in my 23 year life. [​IMG]
     
  12. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 1999
    Messages:
    2,312
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  13. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 28, 1999
    Messages:
    1,145
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  14. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 28, 1999
    Messages:
    1,145
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Some of this may stem from TJN having been in the realm of Hi-end audio for many years. I remember reading in a Stereophile piece back in the 80's that would could expect trouble free service from a typical hi-mid fi unit for about 4-5 years. They were talking about stuff like B&K, Adcom, Parasound, etc. Obviously not high end (Krell, ML, Rowland, Audio Research) but still pretty sad to say the least.
     
  15. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 28, 1999
    Messages:
    1,145
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a family member that has a 55" Pioneer RPTV he purchase in 1991 and he plays it all day every day and has had zero problems. Maybe it's a fluke.
     
  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Of course, so-called "high-end" audio is a mixed bag when it comes to reliability. I consider it almost criminal the way Audio Research Corporation basically used its consumer base to de facto "field test" its megabucks tube amplifiers and preamplifiers. The company seemed to think nothing of its 300-watt-per-channel tube amps going into catastrophic failure mode so routinely.

    On the other hand, home theater appeals to wider base; its adherents are not as forgiving of product failure as are those devoted to tweako-excessive, "golden-eared"-marketed two-channel analogue audio.

    Toshiba would not dare take such a cavalier attitude toward its customers.

    It only seems reasonable that a well-calibrated and cared-for video display--be it direct-view, rear- or front-projection--should last longer than four measely years. (How could a Vidikron Vision-One command its multi-kilobuck asking price if it were expected to last only a few years?)

    This missive is not aimed at Mr. Norton, by the way; I love his writing, and I love his magazine. But I am profoundly disturbed by what he wrote. When one gets to test yummie A/V equipment the way he and his staffers do, is it possible to lose perspective? (Just an idea.)
     
  17. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 28, 1999
    Messages:
    1,145
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have never heard of that from Audio Research, but it might explain why Audio Research is something we don't hear about as much as Levinson, Krell, etc.

    Mark Levinson's Cello company came under fire too for selling megabuck stuff and then going out of business. I don't know if you've read the article about the Cello company that was in Stereophile a few years ago, but it was interesting.
     
  18. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Oh, Audio Research has been notorious for product failure; even the company's ardent admirers and long-suffering customers have taken a beating with a sunny face; they like to mix their pleasure with pain. And I once owned an ARC SP-6B tube preamp. Though noisy, it sounded glorious in the midrange--until it crapped out on me, and I replaced it with a solid-state unit.

    But my Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic direct-views? I expect them to have long, healthy lives.
     
  19. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    862
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a 1993 50" Hitachi RPTV that will not die. In fact, about two years ago, after spending a few hundred to have it calibrated by an ISF tech, a friend of mine wondered if I was planning to upgrade to an HDTV in the next few months. When I asked why he replied that the picture on my TV looked better than all the non-HDTV RP units he had just been looking at!

    Even if it doesn't die I may soon retire it. However, if four friggin' years is the best I can expect from a new TV, I may have to pay to store it as a backup plan!
     

Share This Page