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Thread: The de-evolving computer

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tezza View Post
    Well, my knee-jerk reaction would be to say "yes", computers (along with many other things) are poorer quality and that's a reflection of our throw-away disposable society. Computer components aren't built to last, as they will be obsolete very soon.

    Personally I have no proof of this though and the opinion above is probably simplistic . In theory, given surface mount and LSI technologies, computers SHOULD be a lot more reliable nowdays than say 30 years ago and perhaps they are. I haven't owned enough newish computers to know one way or the other.

    Someone who has been dealing with computers at the hardware level for 30 years or so should have an idea.

    Tez
    In my experience and opinion computers are certainly a lot cheaper these days, both in price and in construction, but I don't think they're necessarily less reliable. Sure, the electrolytic caps issue caused a lot of failures, but that was an anomaly; hard disks fail now and they failed then, but I've had a lot fewer IDE drives fail than the MFM & RLL and early IDE drives of old.

    I think the higher level of integration, fewer connections and sockets, technological and engineering advances, etc. all add up to more efficient and more reliable hardware, even considering that to be fair you'd have to compare a 5150 to a top-end $30,000 server of today, and your dual-core laptop to a Rapidman calculator of yesterday. And why is a part made of plastic necessarily less reliable than the same part made of steel or aluminum, as long as they both do the job for which they were designed?

    So, my experience says if you leave them alone they tend to just chug along fine; the systems I deal with run 24/7 and years ago I'd be on the road fairly regularly to deal with a hardware problem, but I think in the last five or six years all I've had to do was replace a few fans.

  2. #12

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    I'm still miffed that a system I built last year had the motherboard blow a cap within 9 months. That and somehow stores only allow returns on computer parts for 14 days around here (Fry's, Bestbuy). I mean .. *REALLY?!* you don't trust it to last more than 14 days? wtf.

    I do wonder if the lack of quality is due to consumer demand vs the 80's though. I'm not sure folks would buy computers at the inflated price they'd cost today if it hadn't been reduced but since 1-2 computers is common in most American households I can't help but wonder if the commonality vs novelty has reduced the expectation of quality in these items. Not that I accept the lack of quality per that excuse but I certainly am curious.
    Looking to acquire: IBM 5100, Altair 8800

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by barythrin View Post
    I'm still miffed that a system I built last year had the motherboard blow a cap within 9 months. That and somehow stores only allow returns on computer parts for 14 days around here (Fry's, Bestbuy). I mean .. *REALLY?!* you don't trust it to last more than 14 days? wtf.

    I do wonder if the lack of quality is due to consumer demand vs the 80's though. I'm not sure folks would buy computers at the inflated price they'd cost today if it hadn't been reduced but since 1-2 computers is common in most American households I can't help but wonder if the commonality vs novelty has reduced the expectation of quality in these items. Not that I accept the lack of quality per that excuse but I certainly am curious.
    Ive seen many instances where companies dont expect things to last, in some cases large scandals are invloved see here. As for the cost cuts, that likely has a large play in the quality of the components and computers costing several thousand dollars simply wouldnt be practical.

  4. #14
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    It's not your imagination. According to an online article one in three laptops fails within three years of purchase.
    laptop1a..jpg

  5. #15

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    Everything is designed to a price... that's what the customer wants; cheap. Pay more and it generally lasts longer. It's the universal rule (applies to cars, electronics, buildings, the chair you are sitting on...)

    Also, I think when computers were the new big thing, and not yet widespread, they had more money spent on them because they were fewer buyers, hence the companies had to have a reason to charge the same price as a new car! Today, every man and his dog wants 'the thing', whatever that is, so it is made cheaply (also read 'quickly') to satisfy the market's appetite.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by donutty View Post
    Everything is designed to a price... that's what the customer wants; cheap. Pay more and it generally lasts longer. It's the universal rule (applies to cars, electronics, buildings, the chair you are sitting on...).
    The chair I'm sitting on is made by Steelcase and is over 20 years old. My rear end will wear out before it does.

    I don't know how long you've been around, but for me, to see HP come in after Acer is a real shock--but then, Apple comes in a couple slots after Dell. So much for the argument that "you get what you pay for..."

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by pontus View Post
    Computers used to be expensive. Today you can buy a really nice machine (performance- and featurewise) for very little money. A lot of money might not get you quality, but a little money gives you crap.
    The most unreliable computers are commodity ones that you get from Radio Shack and things like that. If you assemble your own machine, you can put much better components in it, as well as not having it full of adware (a way of keeping prices down).

    Quote Originally Posted by pontus View Post
    Computers used to be serviced! Today you throw it out when it breaks (which is why I find machines with simple problems in the trash often). The manufacturer are inclined to make serviceable computers if they expect to get them in for service.
    Electronics in general. Many people throw out LCD panels (for example) if the backlight goes bad rather than replace it.

    Consider also that in the '80s, electronics weren't being made in China yet. When that started in the '90s, quality really went down. Even if you wanted to repair something, like say a DVD player, the company usually won't sell you any replacement parts.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    The chair I'm sitting on is made by Steelcase and is over 20 years old. My rear end will wear out before it does.

    I don't know how long you've been around, but for me, to see HP come in after Acer is a real shock--but then, Apple comes in a couple slots after Dell. So much for the argument that "you get what you pay for..."
    Everything taken into account, the argument still holds true. Granted, in a few cases, the design effort and strive to make a better product can still produce a value-for-money product that will outlast similar products. Nowadays, most things are rushed out and it shows (especially with software; I can't remember a cellphone that I've had in the last 5 years that didn't have a inexcusable software glitch. That covers Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and even my current Blackberry).

    I used to work for a high-end plasma TV manufacturer. Their products were one of the most expensive on the market, and the average person in the street would not have recognised the name, unless they were a 'videofile'. Consequently, that explains why the factory eventually closed down and moved abroad and why they re-designed (down-scaled) their product line. But they were the highest-ranked manufacturer in product reviews, and the return rate was very small compared to other brands.

    For example, the capacitors used were rated at (I can't remember exactly... just an illustration) 5 years lifetime which was 2 years more than was common in the industry. Those capacitors cost more, hence the end product cost more. Couple that with good design (which makes sure those capacitors aren't over stressed) and the product will 'in theory' last longer.

    Contrast that to a cheap 12v -> 230v power inverter I recently had given that lasted about 3 months from new. Inside, the bank of FETs weren't even screwed to the aluminium casing (they were in the right position to be!), which would have acted as a heatsink. Had the (Chinese) manufacturer spent a few more pennies on some damn screws, the parts woudn't have overheated and killed themselves. I never buy the cheapest of anything, but never the most expensive. To be honest, rather than choose something in the middle, I tend to side with the 'slightly more' than average. I've never owned the top-of-the-range anything, but have always stayed clear of the cheapest.
    Last edited by donutty; February 28th, 2010 at 03:28 AM. Reason: Spelling correction!

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by donutty View Post
    I used to work for a high-end plasma TV manufacturer. Their products were one of the most expensive on the market, and the average person in the street would not have recognised the name, unless they were a 'videofile'. Consequently, that explains why the factory eventually closed down and moved abroad and why they re-designed (down-scaled) their product line. But they were the highest-ranked manufacturer in product reviews, and the return rate was very small compared to other brands.
    I'm guessing it was Pioneer. They were considered the royalty of plasma TVs, but two years ago quit the business entirely and just make stuff like car stereos now.

    Rather too bad that there are few plasma TVs left, as the picture quality is better than LCDs and they have no motion blur.

  10. #20

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    Yes Fallo you are correct. They sold their plasma technology to Panasonic.. a more commercial player who thought they could make it pay.
    Yes, plasma was the better technology then (I have no bias nowadays), but now I have a Samsung LCD which is as good, for the price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fallo View Post
    I'm guessing it was Pioneer. They were considered the royalty of plasma TVs, but two years ago quit the business entirely and just make stuff like car stereos now.

    Rather too bad that there are few plasma TVs left, as the picture quality is better than LCDs and they have no motion blur.

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