Many devices I purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s (and still own, believe it or not) still work like new, including video cameras, CD players, VCRs, stereos, tube televisions and answering machines -- even an old Dell laptop. But it seems like everything I bought within the last four years has a lifespan of one to three years.
Here are a few examples of recent product failures among some of the most highly regarded brands:
That's why I'm making an open request for all consumer electronics manufacturers to increase the ruggedness of their products. In addition to building reasonably rugged products, they should back up their products with reasonable guarantees of performance and lifespan. That means standard warranties of three to five years, minimum -- and 10 would be even better. (I've been using American Express's extended warranty guarantee too often lately.)
To encourage quality and alleviate environmental impact, I propose legislation and taxes for manufacturers of products that break quickly or fill our landfills sooner versus later.
A friend recently suggested I should simply boycott cheaply manufactured electronics. The problem with that logic is that there are few ways to differentiate the cheap from the quality. Again, it seems like most devices are guilty, even the most esteemed brands.
That's why I would like to see product reviewers focus just as much on lifespan and ruggedness as they do on bells and whistles of the latest gizmos. It should be easier to pick out the gems from the junk. I also would like to see more modular designs, so we can replace components versus entire products.
What else can we do to reverse the onslaught of cheaply-manufactured consumer electronics devices?
It's a growing problem that nobody talks about. But enough is enough.