Saturday, January 1, 2011

Old vs. New, pt. 1

My 19" RCA still works. I bought it around '92, and until '07 or '08 it was my only t.v. That's at least fifteen years of daily duty, and it's still trucking.

Meanwhile, my 42" Vizio crapped out after about 18 months. So, while I'm waiting for it to get fixed (they apparently take their time on warranty work) I'm back watching my little t.v.

I can't believe this was my only t.v.--for fifteen years. Good God, it seems tiny now.

Anyway, is there something about new technology that causes it to become worthless quickly? Why is it that hardcore bikers can roar around on 50's era Harleys while cars made today won't last even twenty years? Is it due to an overbearing urge to make things work better today, even at the expense of longevity?

I recently had to rent a car for a week. It was a 2011 Nissan something or other, with almost no miles on it. First off, I was blown-away at all the controls the thing had. Its dashboard looked like the Space Shuttle's, and even more functions were on one of two turn-signal type levers that required the dexterity of a brain-surgeon to use correctly. It took me almost the entire week to find out how to open the rear hatchback. (It this wonderful futureland, there will be no mechanical button or latch to open your trunk. Oh no, it's a hidden electronic-type button that only works if you first push the "unlock" button twice on your keyfob.) Opening the gas-cap required serious study (that button is down near the driver's knees), and, well...the entire car was nice but overly-complex.

So, how long before all that crap breaks? Does anyone care? I'm guessing not. After all, isn't the name of the game to sell people even more crap that they don't really need?

1 comment:

Maria said...

I've noticed a severe drop-off in appliance durability as well.

My last dishwasher lasted for 10 or 12 years--my current one gives me problems after only three years.

We had a 32" 1993 tv (i forget the brand) for 16 years. It was still going strong when we gave it away to make room for a larger plasma. Haven't had much problems with the new one, but somehow I suspect it's not going to last for more than 16 years.

Probably the pace of technology development is driving some of this quality degradation. Manufacturers just assume that people will upgrade to the cool new thing every two years so they don't bother to make things that last longer than that.