08 July 2006

The Standard of Today's Electronics

Last week I had to re-tune my grandmother's Akira TV. Again. This was not the first time that TV lost some of its screws. Granted, it was quite a few years old, probably more than three, and therefore it has every right to start acting cranky by today's standards of electronics. And it may be too early to blame the TV for losing its tuning without considering other possible causes. But that's not the topic of this entry.

What I'm grumbling about is the falling quality of the electronics we have today. I still remember TVs of the past, about a decade back or more, when TVs really cost a bomb. A simple 21" TV can easily rob you of $500. Comparatively, today's CRT TVs of similar type only go for $100+.

However, TVs of the past were made to last. Heck, we still had a working 14" TV (though we no longer use it) that is older than I am! Never mind that it only has ten channels, no remote control, and uses a screw and a knob to tune. The fact that it is still spitting out electrons correctly today, more than twenty years after it was born, is an exemplary quality of electronics made to last. For your info, it was a Sony TV. It will be a miracle for today's TVs to work properly after five years.

I shall not deny that the market demand has shifted from costly but durable TVs to toilet paper TVs, and it'd be foolish for the manufacturers not to tag along. Two favourable factors caused this shift. First is the desire of the consumers to follow the latest trends, whereby designs and technologies that are no longer in the forefront of the industry are discarded and replaced. The other factor is the dirt cheap manufacturing cost in China, where goods were churned out like Zero One.

Nonetheless, being somewhat a social oddball, I never really liked to follow latest technological trends. I'm not sure if this stems from my belief in environmentalism, or is it just nostalgia about stuff, but I always liked things that last. That's probably why I'm looking at a Philips CRT monitor now, though it is starting to give me minor problems (it is about four to five years old). That's probably why I chose an IMB laptop, because it supposedly has a slightly longer life on average. That's probably why I like my trusty Toshiba TV, which has given me no problems in the last six or seven years in service.

Anyway, two weeks ago, we had to send another TV, this time the one in the living room, for repair. When the repairman came and took the TV, my father asked him, out of curiosity, what kind of TV today can last. He said anything but LCD TVs. Looks like I won't be wanting an LCD screen anytime soon.


The Negative Man said...

This reminds me of a 'theory' that a teacher once told me: Last time, manufacturing techniques weren't so precise so manufacturers weren't sure how long their products would last. So, they designed products on the safe side; the result was products that tended to last.

Now, manufactures know exactly how long components would last, so they finetuned the lifespan to perhaps just outside of warranty. Which also cuts down on the cost and decreases the time to replace it (more business. for someone at least).

Disclaimer: I think the same teacher had many other 'theories'. These do not reflect my own views.

Pandemonium said...

Interesting theory, but somehow I feel that it might not be true. Not that this argument is flawed; in fact, it is quite logical.

I feel that the falling standards of electronics have something to do with the rise of cheap mass manufacturing markets like China.

The Negative Man said...

Yep, its probably China. If you have a $500 quality product and others are selling a $200 product , quality unspecified, many consumers are likely to go for the $200 one.

True, some may see the $500 for the quality and go for it. However, most people only need a television and the cheaper one is no less a television.

It thus seems logical for companies to reduce the cost of their product by compromising on the quality (as long as it works!), otherwise it'll be hard to sell the product at all.

Unless, of course, your company chooses to go quality and market it as a luxury, branded product. But even so, for televisions this usually means the high tech ones (plasma, lcd etc). which are instantly recognisable status symbols. Thus there actually is less reason for a quality CTV.

This might also explain why high end tvs cost many times more than a low end CTV.