Thursday, August 18, 2016

Disposable Electronics

My lovely wife and I watch very little TV. We don't have cable but we do watch the occasional movie. We were in no hurry to replace our old 19 inch tube TV. Nothing lasts forever and the old TV was on its last gasp. At the same time Walmart was running a sale on 32 inch flat screen TVs. For less than $150 how could we go wrong?

Fairly easily as it turns out. I was really careful to find one in an undamaged box. Physically, the TV looked fine. Only once it was all connected and powered up did I discover it was broken. Instead of a nice display we had what looked like a lightning storm -not good.

The next day it was back to the store for another one. The clerk at the service desk said that sort of thing happens all the time. Pretty disturbing to see that TV failure rates are high and it's considered normal. I wondered if maybe the whole pallet of TVs had been dropped and all of them were broken. The new TV worked fine, which is good as if it happened again I'd just take my money and run.

Modern electronics are a wonder, but they are rarely worth repairing and technology soon becomes obsolete. Some people are quick to replace their old stuff. We still have a functioning VHS player. I keep cell phones until they change the towers and everything goes to a new standard.

My lovely wife convinced me to get rid of my old computers recently. You know what happened next. There was a file I needed and it had been saved on a 3.5 inch floppy disk. Fortunately I'd also made a copy of the file on a CD -another technology that's being phased out. Good thing I have an old laptop that can still read those.

My local transfer station collects electronics for recycling. That's better than just going in the landfill, but what ever happened to being able to repair something?



  1. I'm convinced the older electronic products were designed for a longer life. My Trac Phone is still going strong after five years of daily service. My daughter's 3G phone lasted 15 months, due to power cord wearing out the receptacle. Fixing it would cost more than replacing it (No - really !).

    I have an old 13 Emerson TV that still gives decent reception when I view it - had it since 1991. Still leave it connected to outside TV antennae for ocassions when DirtecTV satellite gives out for a spell.

    Big screen TVs use more energy and give off more heat. Our electric bill jumped a bit over $10 when we switched from our old RCA.

    1. The new TV has good energy rating. I am told that they only last a few years. The transfer station always has a big pile of flat screen TVs.

      Having an over air connection is good. Too bad I can't get any channels that way around here. The one good channel I used to get moved their antenna to cover the area where more people live.

  2. user friendly = non fixable


  3. Cheap manufacturing standards plus lead-free solder equals short life-span in consumer electronics.

    I've seen 20+ year old computers still in active use, but you're lucky if you get more than 5 years out of a modern machine.

    Retro-tek is the future. -Ticom