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Is modern tech more or less reliable?

Old 02-16-08, 05:51 PM
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Is modern tech more or less reliable?

I was just reading a blog on Yahoo Tech titled Are Tech Products Less Reliable Today?. The article was just about modern technology from a few years ago vs. today, but it got me thinking. What has been your experience with modern technology, as far as reliability, compared with the older stuff? I donít mean from a few years ago, more like a decade ago, or even two decades.

In the mid 1990s I bought a new TV. It was in the shop within six months and again three months later with the same problem. It was beyond repair but luckily it was still under warranty so I got a brand new one. The second set worked well enough until the warranty expired, then the exact same problem as the first one. Of course, the cost of the parts plus labor would exceed the price of the TV. My parents had a wood-cabinet console TV from the 1970s that lasted over 20 years. Back then TVs and stereos were considered as much furniture as home electronics. It had a few minor repairs over the years but worked well. On its final visit from the TV repairman, the guy said it would be an easy fix if they still made the parts for it.

Iím sure it has a lot to do with what modern technology will do. There was a lot less stuff to break. Four years ago, we purchased two identical electric space heaters. The first one didnít make it through its second winter and the second one died the following winter. Those things were $50 a piece. I wouldíve gladly traded the digital display, remote control, electronic thermostat, and oscillation for my parentís 20-year-old space heater with the single knob.

Thatís just a couple of the many examples I could give. I still have my old Atari 2600. My parents still have a working 8-track player. The phone in their bedroom is almost 35 years old and Iíve been through three phones in five years. Etc., etc.

So, what have been your experiences with old vs. new technology?

If youíve had the same kind of experiences as me, would you be willing to give up some of the modern bells and whistles for more reliable, longer lasting products?
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Old 02-16-08, 09:41 PM
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I generally think things were more serviceable in previous generations. Today things seem to be more disposable, with more "solid state" types of pieces that are not able to be maintained by the user rather than mechanical. I think that accounts for some of the perceived durability difference.

I think another part of it is that there is so much competition on price, and manufacturers shave costs on parts, etc as well as offshore so much of the manufacturing process. They build cheaper to compete on price and for a shorter life cycle because people replace things due to technology updates rather than due to it hitting its true end of life.

I just purchased a new washer and dryer, after having the previous set for 15 years. I performed a couple of repairs myself on the previous washer and 1 repair on the previous dryer. Both repairs to the previous washer were mechanical parts that wore out after much usage. The dryer was a heating element a few years ago. And that pair was fairly low end.

On the new pair due to the significantly more complex nature , I shopped the best price but also a very good deal on an extended warranty (which I usually shun) on the pair that covered 4 years beyond the manufacturers warranty. The extended warranty was less than 1 repair visit will be and I'm sure significantly less than if one of them needs a new "brain". I would not have purchased without it, I was that worried about the difficulty of troubleshooting an issue/part prices, etc compared to previous.
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Old 02-17-08, 07:26 AM
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i don't get this love affair with fixing stuff instead of throwing it away

one time i had a TV last me like 15 years. do i care, no. the old style TV's lasted that long because technology didn't change for 40 years and buying a new TV didn't mean it was better. today with HDTV and blu ray buying a new TV means you are getting a lot more product than your old TV at the same price. why fix old junk?
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Old 02-17-08, 08:28 AM
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Is modern tech more or less reliable?


but it is really not as simple as that

Today's tech also has more feartures than yesterdays and anytime you make a system more complex, you automatically make it less reliable.

What makes me mad about todays tech is that you MUST take all the added features in most cases. For example, I can't buy a car with manual crank windows anymore. Those electric motors cost $300 to replace, while the manual cranks will usually go a half million miles or 20 years without issue

It is just one clear example, no, I don't really want manual crank windows. If I was really poor and just scrapping by I would, less risk of future costs to fix.

or if you do find a 'lower tech' product, it is usually made by a company that you have never heard of and the entire thing is a POS. The better brands seem to feel they have to make the product with the most features.

Al, peoples facination with keeping things a long time has to do with value. If you want a new TV every 5 years, it would be more valuable to sell your old working one and then buy a new one, instead of having to toss your old one because it broke.
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Old 02-17-08, 08:38 AM
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Old 02-17-08, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG

but it is really not as simple as that

Today's tech also has more feartures than yesterdays and anytime you make a system more complex, you automatically make it less reliable.
I just spent a month freezing my nuts off because my 3 year old, best you can buy, 90+% efficient furnace had an intermittent issue. The fucking thing is so complicated the techs (3 different techs) couldn't figure out the problem. I know my father had a furnace that lasted 30 years with only normal yearly maintenance. We've really screwed ourselves on reliability.
The quality of nearly everything is down, tech item or not. I bought a leather chair ($1200) and the dye on the damn thing peeled off like bad paint. Exchanged, and the same thing happened. Returned for refund.
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Old 02-17-08, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG

It is just one clear example, no, I don't really want manual crank windows. If I was really poor and just scrapping by I would, less risk of future costs to fix.
I'm not scraping by and I would rather have manual crank windows... because its a piece of tech I care nothing about nor do I want to deal with fixing it when it invariably breaks.

Other things I prefer to have more features on, but many things not.

I think cars are a different category in some respects because there is quite a bit of money for the dealers, etc to make when a more complicated item breaks, and its an investment that people do generally fix rather than just buy a new one.

However, I definitely think consumer electronics are in the disposable category these days, unfortunately.
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