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DeepHour
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08 Jul 2018, 7:11 pm

Since the dawn of the Millennium, I've owned a lot of tape and disc based recording and playback equipment. Some of it was bought new, most was bought secondhand in good working order.

I've found the overall reliability and build quality of these items to be extremely poor.

Between 2000 and 2010, I took at least seven or eight VHS recorders to the local recycling unit, after they failed in service. The average lifespan was probably less than 18 months.

I've had at least ten machines with recordable dvd, sometimes combined with hard drive. On these, five of the dvd drives have failed, usually after just a few months usage, and on the machines which had an integrated TV tuner, this feature has stopped working on all of them.

When I tried to set up a system to record TV programmes this week (something I've not done for months), it took a couple of hours trial and error just to find anything that still worked at all. It's ironic that in this digital era, I ended up relying on a couple of old VHS machines using essentially 1970s technology.

This wasn't always the case - my first video recorder was an ex-rental Sony C7, manufactured in around 1980, which worked perfectly until 1996. Most equipment made by the major Japanese electronics companies in those days (Sony, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, etc) was well built and reliable, but no longer, it seems.

I realize that for a more recent generation of people, accustomed to streaming and downloading stuff, much of the above might seem irrelevant and even incomprehensible, but I just needed to have a rant anyway, and maybe it might strike a chord with at least some people here.

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Some of my VHS machines, LOL.


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SaveFerris
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09 Jul 2018, 10:16 pm

Wot no betamax :lol:

I have a Dual Deck VCR stored in a box that I used to copy tapes and convert vhs home movies to digital for family members. I'm a bit of a tinkerer so I've repaired it a few times. Do VHS players still have tracking knobs ?
My DVD player has been resigned to storage as well.
It's all PC in my house now , I can download most things in a few minutes or use catch up TV ( iPlayer etc ).
*Dons tin foil hat*
Things are not built to last nowadays on purpose , CRT tellys used to last for ever , I haven't had a flat screen TV last longer than 5 years
*takes of foil hat*


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DeepHour
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09 Jul 2018, 10:34 pm

Never owned a digital TV, plasma or LCD. All three of mine are CRT, and the newest of them is around 12 years old.

Surprised when shopping yesterday to find all four main types of recordable dvd media (-r, +r. +rw, -rw) still available, though maybe most of these are used in PCs these days.

SaveFerris wrote:
Wot no betamax :lol:


Still got a handful of Betamax tapes, but nothing to play them on....


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SaveFerris
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10 Jul 2018, 8:21 am

It's the only time I get materialistic - my electronic gadgets. I prefer LED TV's as they are great for high def gaming.

I went years without buying a TV as I'd update every time I saw a TV in a skip , I did have a bank of CRT's but my GF made get rid of them when we got together :(

The only people I know who use recordable dvd are people who hock pirate dvd's and shopkeepers who have DVR's and need to rip any crimes to DVD for the police ( which reminds me , I'll PM it to you ).

The first film I saw on Betamax was Quest For Fire when I was 11 - shocking film for an 11 year old :lol:


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DeepHour
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10 Jul 2018, 10:30 am

I think the root of the declining quality issue was the moving of production overseas by Japanese companies. The 1970s and 80s seem to have represented the high point for these products - technical excellence, superb attention to detail, robust construction with no corners cut.

Moving into the 90s and beyond, the high value of the Yen made things increasingly difficult for exporters, so they set up plants in countries with lower labour costs and cheaper currencies. Unfortunately this entailed less quality control and poorer standards, especially when competition from cheaper Korean products led to even further cost cutting and even lower standards. A Sony VCR built in Thailand or a Panasonic one from their Slovakian plant were hugely inferior to the Japanese-made equivalents of 15-20 years previously.

Save Ferris wrote:
Do VHS players still have tracking knobs ?


The later VHS machines all, or mostly, seem to have had tracking controls, but it was invariably done via the remote control, rather than a physical mechanism.


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SaveFerris
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10 Jul 2018, 10:53 am

You make good points

[FOIL HAT]but I still think it's dirty capitalism [/FOIL HAT]

or that goods are out of date in a few years due to technological advancement so the bastards are banking on you upgrading. I want a 4K telly but it's pointless as I have no 4K broadcasts or a games console that outputs 4k , I could download 4K films but it's not worth the outlay when my current TV is adequate.

I can't believe you still need tracking , I thought they would of sorted that by now.

The cliche is true - They Don't Make Them Like They Used Too

On another note some of the most reliable cars I've had are Japanese and I currently drive a Japanese import


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steve30
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12 Jul 2018, 1:00 am

I'm surprised you've had such bad luck.

I've only had three VCRs over the last 25 years or so, and all three still work :). Although I only use one of them as I seldom use VHS nowadays. Although having said that, I was watching a copy of Mr Bean on VHS earlier on today.

It is true that build quality tends to reduce over time, but electronics become more integrated and mechanisms get simplified which also significantly reduces cost.



cberg
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12 Jul 2018, 3:13 am

There are no QWERTY phones like Palm Treos or Sidekicks available anymore.


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karathraceandherspecialdestiny
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12 Jul 2018, 5:07 am

This is why--it's a totally mental backwards concept, but that's laissez-faire capitalism for you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Modern electronics are literally designed to break easily and quickly, so you will constantly be replacing them. That is the plan, ridiculous waste for the sake of naked greed.



SabbraCadabra
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12 Jul 2018, 5:18 am

SaveFerris wrote:
I can't believe you still need tracking , I thought they would of sorted that by now.

Auto-tracking usually does a good job, but they still offer it as an option, "just in case".

Most VCRs I've used have it set to the channel + and - buttons.


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jikijiki53
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12 Jul 2018, 8:57 am

karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
This is why--it's a totally mental backwards concept, but that's laissez-faire capitalism for you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Modern electronics are literally designed to break easily and quickly, so you will constantly be replacing them. That is the plan, ridiculous waste for the sake of naked greed.


Not all other modern electronics are like that though. I still have an old android smartphone that was my brother's and it's 7 years old. It still works, just needs to replace the battery which is easy compared to other more modern smartphones. It all depends on how you take care of your electronics.

I can see your case when it comes to Apple products though.

I still have an old portable DVD player, just not sure if it still works cause it hasn't been used for quite some time.



DeepHour
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12 Jul 2018, 10:44 am

karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
This is why--it's a totally mental backwards concept, but that's laissez-faire capitalism for you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Modern electronics are literally designed to break easily and quickly, so you will constantly be replacing them. That is the plan, ridiculous waste for the sake of naked greed.



Thanks for posting the Wikipedia article - it's really informative.

There's a suggestion there that the powers that be, at least in parts of the EU, are beginning to take notice of this phenomenon and may legislate at some point. I wouldn't expect too much though - the globalized nature of these companies means that it's easy to switch production to more 'favourable' locations, and the prevailing political culture in many, if not most, Western countries still favours deregulation and 'business-friendly' policies over intervention. Some would even argue that corporations have 'captured' the political establishment.


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Tequila
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12 Jul 2018, 10:45 am

karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
This is why--it's a totally mental backwards concept, but that's laissez-faire capitalism for you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Modern electronics are literally designed to break easily and quickly, so you will constantly be replacing them. That is the plan, ridiculous waste for the sake of naked greed.


Arrant nonsense but you kind of know that.



jimmy m
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12 Jul 2018, 11:12 am

I don't have much trouble with electronics. Generally most of my electronics are protected with Tripp Lite Line Conditioners. The voltage stability of the A/C voltage is less than desirable and can damage electronics. The problem with some older electronics is that they used rubber belts or o-rings that age and crack with time.

I have more problems with mechanical systems such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers. I am constantly repairing these. Parts are overprices. With some designs, the equipment is created to thwart home repair. Most people nowadays just buy new when something breaks. That is so wrong.

My washing machine broke down for about the 5th time, so I reworked it. I bought parts for the washer and commented to the parts dealer that I may have to replace the unit next time. It is a shame that they don't make these units to last. He said how old is it. Well I looked it up and I bought it in 1986. I told him the unit was 32 years old. He said you are lucky to get 8 years out of the new ones.



DeepHour
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12 Jul 2018, 12:04 pm

Here's a picture of the legendary Sony SL C7 Betamax video recorder, for those who missed out on that era. These beasts were built like battleships, and were unbelievably heavy compared with later VCRs. I recall seeing an advert for one in an electronics magazine in about 1978: it was priced at £750, which would equate to around £4000-£5000 in today's money. Despite the fact that VHS won the 'format war', no VHS machine ever attained quite the iconic status of the C7.


Image


It wasn't just the recorders that were built to last. A few years ago I had a damp problem in my flat, and around 20-25 VHS tapes were afflicted by mould and had to be thrown out. Every single one of them turned out to be from the final decade of manufacture, very lightweight items with casings made of cheap, thin plastic. None of the older cassettes, made of much heavier materials, was affected, which suggests also that the tape itself was of much higher quality.

I once bought an old stock of a type of VHS cassette that was popular in the 1980s (Sony Dynamicron). These tapes still record and playback perfectly.


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Last edited by DeepHour on 12 Jul 2018, 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.