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My Problem With Inexpensive Electronics

Katji

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Byte and Dr Dobb's, I'd "forgotten" that.
Sun I think of as windows before people thought Microsoft invented windows.

I'm not sure if there's a US Robotics modem in my junk...I wish routers had an option to make dial-up modem sounds:
1607770839076.png
 

StefaanE

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Byte and Dr Dobb's, I'd "forgotten" that.
Sun I think of as windows before people thought Microsoft invented windows.

I'm not sure if there's a US Robotics modem in my junk...I wish routers had an option to make dial-up modem sounds:
View attachment 98642
I see you’re in South Africa, so sanibonani Katji ;). When I was living in Durban (“the last outpost of the British Empire”), working for the TAB (Tote), we had a technician who could test modems by whistling in the mouthpiece. It was a very impressive party trick.
 

groovybassist

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I personally don't have a beef with where something is manufactured, but I do have a beef with the quality of the manufacture, servicing, how the company looks at environmental responsibility and how it views a living wage. I'm less interested in churning through gear than when I was younger, so I've been focusing my efforts on finding components that best fit my current perspective and are excellent performers. Like everyone else here, I'm amazed at the performance of inexpensive gear these days, but it doesn't meet many of my other objectives. This is exactly why I've become focused on Tom Christiansen's (@tomchr) TCA and Neurochrome brands. Tom's engineering skill, attention to detail, high standards for the products he builds and belief in people earning a living wage are what's made me gravitate to his products. They are not the cheapest available, but they're not prohibitive by high-end standards either and the performance is top notch.
 
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Helicopter

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I personally don't have a beef with where something is manufactured, but I do have a beef with the quality of the manufacture, servicing, how the company looks at environmental responsibility and how it views a living wage. I'm less interested in churning through gear than when I was younger, so I've been focusing my efforts on finding components that best fit my current perspective and are excellent performers. Like everyone else here, I'm amazed at the performance of inexpensive gear these days, but it doesn't meet many of my other objectives. This is exactly why I've become focused on Tom Christiansen's TCA and Neurochrome brands. Tom's engineering skill, attention to detail, high standards for the products he builds and belief in people earning a living wage are what's made me gravitate to his products. They are not the cheapest available, but they're not prohibitive by high-end standards either and the performance is top notch.
China has changed a lot in 20 years, with much higher income. There are still problems. They are still too far away from the US for return shipping. That is my biggest concern, i.e., retailer or warranty work there, rather than manufacture. It is not such a big deal if you are in Russia or something. Language can be more of an issue in my experience too. If they are using Google Translate, good luck.
 

Katji

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I see you’re in South Africa, so sanibonani Katji ;). When I was living in Durban (“the last outpost of the British Empire”), working for the TAB (Tote), we had a technician who could test modems by whistling in the mouthpiece. It was a very impressive party trick.
:) Howzit. :) Yes, Durban. I like it more than ever. 10 years in Johannesburg and 2 years in London, the rest in Durban. "Last outpost...", very rare to hear that. I do like the diversity. And the climate.
Modem whistling...It reminds me, there was some DIY tone generating device in the US for getting free long-distance calls, something like that.
 

Helicopter

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:) Howzit. :) Yes, Durban. I like it more than ever. 10 years in Johannesburg and 2 years in London, the rest in Durban. "Last outpost...", very rare to hear that. I do like the diversity. And the climate.
Modem whistling...It reminds me, there was some DIY tone generating device in the US for getting free long-distance calls, something like that.
When I was in boarding school in the US we had VOIP phones, and all used "DACs" of another type to get dial up internet. Sort of like the movie Hackers.
 

StefaanE

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:) Howzit. :) Yes, Durban. I like it more than ever. 10 years in Johannesburg and 2 years in London, the rest in Durban. "Last outpost...", very rare to hear that. I do like the diversity. And the climate.
Modem whistling...It reminds me, there was some DIY tone generating device in the US for getting free long-distance calls, something like that.
With the appropriate posh accent (“Empuh’a”), that’s how it was described to me when I first got there, during a marvellous lunch at the “British Middle East Sporting and Dining Club”, located just outside the Greyville Race Course, the only race course with an 18-hole golf course inside its track (and a road going through it). Durban’s a marvellous place, I miss it. I used to live in Waterfall, overlooking the ‘Nkutu. I wanted to go visit there this year, for my 65th birthday but COVID put that on hold.

Just cleaned out a full set of Solaris 8 manuals (nearly 2 shelves). Anyone interested?
 

Katji

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When I was in boarding school in the US we had VOIP phones, and all used "DACs" of another type to get dial up internet.
smh I can't remember when I first had cell network connection, maybe 98-99. 1990-1995, no public access internet but I had dial-up access to a server at the university....I'm not sure why but I used to upload source code to compile it there.


Greyville Race Course
I can see a bit of it from my window now. I must check my photos from here.
 

StefaanE

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I can see a bit of it from my window now. I must check my photos from here.
Ah, you live on the Berea? I once made an offer on a house on the corner of Clive and Napier to be closer to the office (Avondale, corner of DLI) but it was refused. The world is small, thanks for reviving nice memories.
 

Old Listener

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While I agree with @raistlin65 that generalizing from personal experience produces poor quality evidence, as a careful consumer, I have to make decisions based on whatever information that I can collect. It is my choice how to use the information that I collect.

Some comments about Chinese manufacturing:

If you want local service and repair facilities, a product sold by a local company and manufactured in China is a possibility. Pick a local brand that stands behind their product.

China isn't just a country that manufactures products. It is also a very large market for many products with an expanding population of middle and upper class consumers who value quality and status. Over time, the US will just be one of the large markets that companies try to sell in.

Some personal experience with product reliability:

We've owned 3 German cars in 50 years. The 1969 BMW 2002 served us well for 13-14 years with a few repair expenses. We bought a 2001 BMW M Roadster in 2002. It had about 3200 miles on it when we bought it and it has ~35,000 miles now. There have been a few expensive repairs but it has been reliable. We use a 2011 VW GTi hatchback as a daily driver, truck substitute and long distance trip car. Very few problems in ~111,000 miles. A VW GTi or VW Golf R is at the top of my list for our next car purchase.

The microwave that we have used since 1972 died a few weeks ago. I doubt that we will get 48 years out of its replacement but 10 years would be nice. Our other major appliances have been in service for many years too. The washing machine came with the house we bought in 1972. We bought the dryer around 2002 and the refrigerator about 10 years ago.

About repair:

For inexpensive products, replacement may make more sense for the seller than repair. The non-working unit can be sent off for repair along with other such units and resold later. As a consumer, my main concern when a product fails within the warranty is getting a working unit quickly and without unreasonable expense.
 

EJ3

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China has changed a lot in 20 years, with much higher income. There are still problems. They are still too far away from the US for return shipping. That is my biggest concern, i.e., retailer or warranty work there, rather than manufacture. It is not such a big deal if you are in Russia or something. Language can be more of an issue in my experience too. If they are using Google Translate, good luck.
One of the places I own is a condo in Chongqing. My son is Chinese is an English Teacher & assistant soccer coach there, also has his own condo there. I hope that the Chinese will start making stuff that will last 30 years. My wife, who is Chinese used to tell me that "if it is made in China and it is not made of silk, it's long term quality is suspect". I hope that I will one day be able to not have to import quality audio equipment to there. GOOGLE TRANSLATE: Uhmmmm, NO!
 

raistlin65

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While I agree with @raistlin65 that generalizing from personal experience produces poor quality evidence, as a careful consumer, I have to make decisions based on whatever information that I can collect. It is my choice how to use the information that I collect.
That's not quite right. One can choose not to use information in decision making that is unreliable. Perhaps that's what you meant.

Nevertheless, the hard part is avoiding influence by the availability heuristic, even when one recognizes that limited anecdotal experience and testimonials are unreliable.
 

JeffS7444

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Yeah, that’s me. On my desk is a Sun Blade 2000 (the “20 years Sun model”), which I haven’t switched on in ages; on top of a cupboard are a Cromemco C-10 and another Sun workstation, an Ultra 1/167 that’s no longer functional. I also have an old Ethernet hub in my mini-museum.
My wife doesn’t get the “holding on to things that you don’t use”, and due to space constraints I have thrown lots of old computers away. Still, somewhere, I wish I had kept my KIM-1, TRS-80, Beehive Superbee terminal and the nearly full collections of Byte Magazine, Dr Dobb’s Journal and Creative Computing.
Perhaps you'll enjoy these paper models of vintage computers!
http://rockybergen.com/papercraft
I own a 1985 Apple Macintosh and Macintosh Classic 2 which someone had left out with their trash in the 1990s. The capacitors used in the Classic are notorious for leaking, and mine needed extensive repair work. Both computers are currently functional, but I do occasionally amuse myself by booting them up and playing with them, but they're mostly just display pieces now. Not especially valuable to collectors as they were made in large numbers, but there is nevertheless still a market for them.
 

StefaanE

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Perhaps you'll enjoy these paper models of vintage computers!
http://rockybergen.com/papercraft
I own a 1985 Apple Macintosh and Macintosh Classic 2 which someone had left out with their trash in the 1990s. The capacitors used in the Classic are notorious for leaking, and mine needed extensive repair work. Both computers are currently functional, but I do occasionally amuse myself by booting them up and playing with them, but they're mostly just display pieces now. Not especially valuable to collectors as they were made in large numbers, but there is nevertheless still a market for them.
Those Rockybergen models are cute. The Lisa model reminded me of the time Apple was launching the ill-fated Apple III at the 1980 NCC in Anaheim. When you visited their booth, you could get tickets for an evening at Disneyland, which they had reserved from 1900 to 2300 or something like that. In those days, Disneyland still required separate tickets for the rides, but on that night, you could do all the major rides for free. I still have the Mickey/Apple tickets; it was something rather memorable for this life-long fan of theme parks.
 
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I've been lucky with electronics & reliability of products in general. My Electrolux front load washing machine & Samsung 55" LED TV have been through 2 local & 3 international moves over 12 years and still work perfectly. Most of my other electronics are around 5 to 8 years old except for some of my hifi gear. Car-wise, I had a 2005 Alfa Romeo GT that I still miss & had to sell when I moved overseas and never had a problem with it in the 4 years of ownership, despite their poor reputation for reliability & finish at the time.

Generally, I have no issue with where something is made, I have heard plenty of failure stories from friends & colleagues involving higher end European made "reputable" brands and without checking every one, I assume that the majority of my current electronics were manufactured in Asia. So I guess I subscribe to the "luck of the draw" philosophy whilst maintaining some sense of getting what you pay for.

The problem I have with hifi is the level of BS compared to other consumer electronics and the insane disparity in pricing that promises that extra few percent towards supposed audio nirvana without any sort of reliable data, and in most cases....no historical reputation for quality or a proven track record of delivering on those promises.

My D70 works just fine but the small issue I have with Topping products is the inability to turn off the display - in my particular case most of the information is superfluous including the sample rate, as I use DRC and the sample rate is always 24/96. I don't need need 3 levels of "on", on or off will do just fine thank you.
 

Old Listener

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That's not quite right. One can choose not to use information in decision making that is unreliable. Perhaps that's what you meant.
I think that you misunderstood the sentence after the one you highlighted:

" It is my choice how to use the information that I collect. "

I prefer to be aware of other people's experiences and will use them in my decision making. Just how much weight I give such reports depends on the specifics. An example:

I recently shopped for a replacement for a Lenovo 10" tablet. That tablet was quite slow in displaying web pages and the touch screen was iffy. Some 1 and 2 star reviews of the current Lenovo 10" tablet on Amazon and B&H Photo mentioned that the current model was slow. Those reports of slow performance for the Lenovo tablet meshed with my experiences with my Lenovo tablet.

I looked around for other choices and found an 10" Apple iTab and a Samsung Tab A7 10" tablet. I couldn't find a decent deal on the Apple tablet during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday period so I purchased the Samsung for $ 200 - about the same as I would have paid for the current Lenovo tablet. The Samsung tablet seems better in several ways: brighter and sharper display, reliable touch screen and snappy web browsing.

Had I not checked negative user reviews for the current Lenovo model, I might have bought it as an upograde to my older Lenovo. I think I got a better result for being aware of the user reviews when I made my decision.
 

StefaanE

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we need a rousing discussion of the bias in attributing reliability scores to different sources of information
Like a sore throat, coughing and a temperature, yes.
 

Unclevanya

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Earlier Martin mentioned poor experiences with kitchenaid. Ironically I have a 20+ year old one in my kitchen now. And a 30+ year old Frigidaire in the garage. And a 40+ year old window ac from Sears...
 
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