Expensive Junk

Going through my gadget junk yard over the weekend, it is amazing how much junk i have acquired over the years. The oldest is probably the Philips TurnTable and a pile of records i got from my Pop (Never been able to bring myself to encode the records to Mp3). I still have my hifi “Master Blaster” deck and speakers from my University days (those where the days…), pile of cassette tapes,CDs and DVDs,handhelds of all types, VCRs, mini HiFi, Video Editor equipment,satellite receivers, CD labellers, 3 laptops and 2 Printers, rechargeable batteries, etc. The list goes on and on. One uncanny thing they all have in common is that they were all in an irreparable state.

There is a problem here, that is, apart from my tenacity for acquiring gadgets. The problem stems from the fact that products are no longer designed to be durable. Flashy, yes, but why don’t they ever “last”? By “last”, i mean active usage for at least two years. I am not referring to the ocassional users here, but those that put their toys to full use. So how long do we expect our gadgets to last? I spoke with a laptop vendor sometime ago, he was of the opinion that laptops should not last more than two years. He was talking from experience and the statistics suits him just fine, or how does he expect to make sales when a laptop lasts forever? I couldnt help but wonder if that is the view of the manufacturers too.

The product that irked me the most was my Samsung N110 netbook, it is still working but the cheap plastic casing literally fell apart after about 6 months of use. Its successor, the 8hr battery-life wonder Asus laptop had a nasty hard disk crash just about 4 months after purchase? I’m sure a lot of people have a lot sad tales to tell about these latter day products so i decided to “google” the issue of gadgets and their expected life expectancies and my findings were quite revealing. For laptops, references were continually being made to the Dell and Apple Mac brands as being the most durable, with Macs having the ace. Of course, that is debatable but one thing most agree with is that if you buy the cheapest PC, you’ll run into lifespan issues. Cheaper models are built with cheaper materials, so if you’re looking for a computer that will last three to five years or longer, invest in a laptop with quality hardware. But is that guaranteed?

People also say that different laptop computer brands have different life expectancies. Some even say you should expect your laptop to last as long as the warranty you take on it, well, that is definitely debatable too.

The lithium-ion batteries used in most laptops have a typical lifespan of 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles. Full discharge of your laptop’s battery should be avoided to avoid shortening the lifespan. Under proper operating conditions, lithium-ion batteries will last two to three years. Heat is attributed to being the most common cause of failure of Li-ion batteries.

Smartphones, on the other hand, have a very short consumer lifespan. The common consensus from cell phone manufacturers is, guess what? Less than two years !!! And that is if the battery does not give up on you before then. Some people find that as a phone ages, the battery will die more and more quickly; the phone must be recharged more often. This is due to the breakdown of the lithium ion battery. A battery will begin to lose the ability to charge after about 18 months of daily use.


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