EE Product News

Electronics Breakdown

Is it my imagination or have electronics products been breaking down much more frequently in the past year or two? A case in point is a DVD player I purchased about a year and a half ago, built by a reputable manufacturer. I had not used it all that much, but nevertheless the audio output crapped out. No stranger to fixing electronics, I opened up the case and was distressed to find the unit essentially unserviceable—too many surface-mount components for my skills. But that’s okay, a new unit was about half the price of the old one, so I purchased a new model. Next, my stepson calls to tell me that his new PC is not working; it just makes some beeping sounds when he turns it on. Sounds like a hardware problem to me. He purchased the system only six months ago after asking me which brand to buy. I recommended a company that I have always associated with high quality. What’s going on here? I can think of several more examples, and I’m sure some of you have examples of your own. This has me wondering: Have electronics companies, in their desire to cut costs and speed up time to market, essentially eliminated quality control? Or is quality control not part of the equation for consumer products under $600 or so? I might agree with this concept, if the products lasted for three to five years. But six months to a year is really unacceptable. I’ve also noticed retailers being more aggressive in selling extended warranties. Some of them promise complete replacement of a product no matter what the cause of the malfunction. I guess this is the substitute for quality control. E-mail your comments to me at [email protected]

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