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Low reliability brand names
Old 02-19-2005, 09:53 PM   #1
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Low reliability brand names

As a counterpoint to the "Low life-cycle cost brand name" discussion, has anyone else noticed a trend toward poor reliability in electronic products lately? We've seen some pretty poor lifecycle performance from a couple of DVD players and two of our computers in the last couple of years.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 03:24 AM   #2
 
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Yep!
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 04:12 AM   #3
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Re: Low reliability brand names

This is where we pay again and again for low prices and cutthroat competition to reduce costs at any price.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 04:27 AM   #4
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Re: Low reliability brand names

The remote on my 10 month old Apex TV died so my single data point indicates "yes".
Remote controls aren't exactly rocket science either...

I haven't been overly impressed with Mercedes' latest
offerings either. Since the 1990s their reliability trend
has been steeply down hill. It mirrors their transition
from an engineering driven company to a bean counter
and fashion driven company. Sigh...
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 11:18 AM   #5
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Worse still, I keep coming across products that simply dont work, were released anyhow, and then the manufacturer throws up their hands and does nothing.

While recently researching digital cameras, I found a huge percentage of the models have reviews stating the same common engineering faults. I bought a "gateway connected dvd player", which is supposed to let you show your photos, mp3's and digital video on your tv over the network. Barely works for photos and music, and supports virtually no video formats...including DV-Video from a camera. In response, gateway support tells me they believe that they never made such a product, and that this must be a dvd player inside a computer. I think I might know the difference...

This plan of making something and shooting it into the market place despite broad well known flaws and then pretending theres no problem is disturbing.

Then there are the brands with a quality name that have slid. Mercedes used to be in the top 3 reliability wise. The last 5 years they've been in the bottom 3 of ALL car makers, not just the luxo brands. HP products are not what they once were.

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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 01:54 PM   #6
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Re: Low reliability brand names

I don't believe the adage "you get what you pay for" applies anymore. You're much better off letting a new product sit on the market for a few months while the reviews roll in over the Internet. Amazon seems to have some decent reviews, as does ePinions.com.

When it comes to electronics, they're mostly commoditized. Going with the prior Apex brand example, most of the flat-tube televisions look the same once you've configured the video and audio controls. Some of you may not be aware, but stores like Best Buy and Circuit City purposely adjust their lower-end electronics to crappy settings when those items are in the same proximity (e.g., side-by-side) as more expensive electronics. I once saw a high-end JVC television sitting next to an Apex model -- when I adjusted the controls on the Apex back to what I would perceive as "normal", the picture looked better than the JVC -- for roughly $200 cheaper. When I pointed this out to a salesperson (some 16-year-old punk kid) he told me I was nuts. When I moved on to another section of the store, I saw him readjust the settings on the Apex back to its prior state of crappy color, contrast and brightness.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. :
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 03:19 PM   #7
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Good tip on the electronics, Gatsby!

I think the market is working just fine in this realm. HDTV's went from 15k to 1500 and below in no time. The internet puts a plethora of information on products to arm the consumer for battle, and hey, as ERs or aspiring ER's we know it's dumb to buy the latest thing brand new anyway! Let someone else pay the marginal cost on the first units! Hey, maybe I've been lucky, Sony DVD player is wonderful, Hitachi HDTV is perfect, Onkyo Home theatre sounds as good (or better) than sound systems 3-4 times the cost. Knowledge is power, and we live in an age where information is more accesable to the common man than it ever has! (you just gotta sift through the chaff!)
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Old 02-20-2005, 06:00 PM   #8
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For nearly 20 yeares I sold electronic components to hardware manufacturers all over North America. I also gained some technical experience over time.

One megatrend pervades. Although components are becoming more reliable, cheaper and more sophisticated, equipment designs (esp. consumer electronics) are just plain flimsy and getting worse. Often the cost-cutting schemes are ingenious. (Non-geeks skip down to next paragraph) This design engineer had a battery charger circuit that combined the red LED charging indicator in the rectifier thereby eliminating 1 diode from the previous design.

Everyone was excited that the projected loaded cost savings was nearly a nickle per unit.... Finished item sells for $49.95 Projected over a few hundred thousand units and it starts to add up. And its arguable that reduced component count increases overall reliability. NONSENSE. Under the hallucination of staying competitive any way to reduce cost without electrocuting the gadget hungry consumer is ok.

So what can you do? Try to tip the odds a bit in your favor.
Protect your purchases by buying the extended warrantee on big ticket items...esp. laptops
Add Lightning protection to your whole house including electrical, phone, and cable lines. Most cordless phones, TVs and garage door openers have no protection circuits.
Lastly take care of your portable stuff. Millions of cell phones are dropped and broken annually...flimsy, flimsy, flimsy.
Lastly sometimes changing your attitude about the damn thing can make a difference. Expect it to be the last one you'll ever buy.

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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 06:10 PM   #9
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Re: Low reliability brand names

I hear ya on the warranty. Everything I've ever bought with a nice warranty (all items above) I've never had a problem with. Everything with a limited/short term warranty has made me wish it was in the first category! Manufacturers know what they are doing. Example, my VW Passat had a flimsy 2 year 25k warranty (year 2000), I paid for the extended, and believe me, I got my money's worth! Now that it's out of extended, I have learned to fix it myself. My Jeep Grand Cherokee ('02) came with a 7 year, 100k warranty, bumper to bumper, and it's never had a problem. It seem like manufacturers tell you right up front what kind of reliability you can expect from their products!
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-20-2005, 06:32 PM   #10
 
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Re: Low reliability brand names

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Manufacturers know what they are doing. Example, my VW Passat had a flimsy 2 year 25k warranty (year 2000), I paid for the extended, and believe me, I got my money's worth!
I was going to mention VW. - Everyone that I've known that had one, had megaproblems.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-21-2005, 09:55 AM   #11
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Yep, my dad just unloaded his passat for a rav4. Got tired of the $800 "x,000 mile service" charges and everthing that broke costing a grand.

The back breaker was this: The dealer wanted a couple of hundred bucks to replace his spark plugs. We picked some up for about $30 at the auto parts store and I replaced them in about 15 minutes.

Two years later his engine control computer failed. As part of repairing it, they added in replacing the spark plugs, saying they were the wrong ones.

They werent. But I guess they got their $200 bucks.

Regarding DVD players...I still remember a circuit city salesman telling my girlfriend that the cheap dvd player she wanted wasnt any good because it wasnt "heavy enough". He hefted the one she wanted and one costing 4x as much. Said there would be "feedback through the laser on those light ones".

I hope nobody was drinking milk when they read that.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-21-2005, 10:41 AM   #12
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Re: Low reliability brand names

We are going to unload the VW in about a year, still looking at what to replace it with. I dunno, we have a good mechanic lined up now, but we are afraid to push our luck. But of course, the impractical side of me wants a convertible (hey, it's san diego!). Terrible, I know, I know.... 8)
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-22-2005, 03:13 PM   #13
 
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Re: Low reliability brand names

IMHO, you might want to find a low mileage used Mercedes SLK convertible The older ones are still high quality, and they are a blast. I've had one for 2 years now, and no problems at all. Runs fantastic, gets 30 MPG on the highway, and a hardtop convertible is way quieter than a ragtop. It should be easy for you to find a good "non Mercedes" Mercedes mechanic in SD. You can find used SLKs for less than $20k everywhere. 8)
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Old 02-22-2005, 05:37 PM   #14
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bgRe: Low reliability brand names

Quote:
Regarding DVD players...I still remember a circuit city salesman telling my girlfriend that the cheap dvd player she wanted wasnt any good because it wasnt "heavy enough". He hefted the one she wanted and one costing 4x as much. Said there would be "feedback through the laser on those light ones".
Reminds me of when I bought a CD player from one of the big box retailers (which has since gone out of business). Salesman tried every trick in the book to get me to buy the extended warranties. I refused. He finally brought the manager out, who informed me that "You'll probably have trouble with this in the first year." I looked at him and said, "Wow! If it's that unreliable, let's forget the whole thing." He backed off in a hurry, and I finally left with my player. That was close to 15 years ago, and the CD player hasn't given me a bit of trouble.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-22-2005, 05:38 PM   #15
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Salaryguru ... I'm in the market for a DVD player -- what should I stay away from?
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-22-2005, 06:01 PM   #16
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Re: Low reliability brand names

O.K., I'm not salary guru, but my Sony DVD player is now 4 years old and has never so much as hiccupped. Perfect picture, DTS as well as Dolby digital sound, just perfect. So you'll pay $100 instead of 50 bucks for it......well worth it.

As far as convertibles go...Hey The Dude, my wife would love you for saying that. She loves Mercedes, but I'd like a BMW covertible (kid=back seat). A 325ci convertible is right up my alley, but even a 2001 is still in the high 20k range.....(sigh). Well, I'm only 30, I'll get there some day!
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-22-2005, 08:23 PM   #17
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Quote:
*Salaryguru ... I'm in the market for a DVD player -- what should I stay away from?
My oldest is a top line Toshiba. Since it was relatively expensive and still went flakey really quickly, my wife went for the el-cheapo brand for the second. Its a CyberHome. Both suck.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-22-2005, 11:01 PM   #18
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Re: Low reliability brand names

Its a crap shoot on dvd players. I have an oritron and an apex that have outlived a panasonic and a sony, with more use on both as they play dvd+/r and RW's with no problems while the panny and sony wouldnt.

The remotes on them suck though.

I'd go to costco or sams club and get something with a remote you like that costs about $40-50 and run it into the ground.
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Re: Low reliability brand names
Old 02-23-2005, 05:25 PM   #19
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Re: Low reliability brand names

* Too bad about the Toshiba, Salaryguru .. you'd think that one would work. We'd bought a Sylvania, but took it back when I realized we couldn't play jpeg discs on it.

* Thanks for the advice, TH ... actually, we are considering something from Sam's, though I think it's a Sony. *
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