This week the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial about the right to fix our gadgets. It was surprisingly pro-consumer. The author wrote about a friend whose Samsung TV broke due to $12 worth of capacitors and how he fixed the TV, with no experience, in a couple of hours. I can relate, though I took the easy way out.
He lamented the throwaway of gadgets being unethical on several levels, and I agree. I also remember a time when it wasn’t this way.
Last year I got a Samsung LN-S2338W 23″ LCD TV at an insanely low price. The catch was that it didn’t behave very well–the buttons didn’t always work, and the TV liked to turn itself off randomly, or sometimes it even turned itself on.
It wasn’t haunted–it needed a power supply. Samsung TVs of this era had a recall due to defective capacitors in their power supplies, but either this one never got fixed, or wasn’t fixed completely. But it’s not too difficult to fix it yourself.
Veteran IT journalist Guy Wright advises not to buy any more computer than you need. Wright was a prominent Commodore journalist, so he’s been thinking this way for literally decades. I grew up reading the magazines he edited in the 1980s and 1990s–yes, really–so it’s not surprising that I would agree with him.
I saw a couple of points worth clarifying.
When Radio Shack announced its bankruptcy, I read more fears that the age of tinkering is dead than I read laments for the store.
I follow the logic, because Radio Shack was the only national store chain that ever tried to cater to tinkerers. But I don’t think people abandoning Radio Shack means tinkering is necessarily dead. I have plenty of indications that it’s still very much alive, but it’s also very different from how it used to be.
My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.
Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.
While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.
Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.
We’ve had a pair of Magellan 1420 GPSs for several years, but they’ve grown very unreliable. I suspect they have some bad capacitors in them, but I hear a lot of complaints about Magellan hardware quality even today. Recently I was able to buy a couple of 3.5-inch Garmin units for less than $20 apiece. I prefer the Magellan user interface–I think it’s easier to learn and easier to use–but for that kind of money, we’ll learn to use the Garmins. And I’ll note these Garmins are every bit as old as our Magellans, but have held up fine. Read more
I have a D-Link GDS-2205 switch that I picked up cheaply. It turned out it was cheap because it didn’t work. But I thought I’d try to open it and look for bulging capacitors, since that’s a common problem with low-end network equipment.
Opening these boxes is tricky, but not impossible.
Ars Technica ran an aptly timed article today called How to talk your family out of bad consumer electronics purchases. It’s definitely worth a read, to steer you away from bad Black Friday electronics.
There’s a great tip in the article. If a doorbuster item has a model number that isn’t available the rest of the year, you don’t want it. That’s a good rule.
Longtime reader Dan Bowman–probably my very first reader, come to think of it–sent in this article from Infoworld regarding SSDs and data loss in power failure.
It’s not theoretical. I’ve seen it. I also know how to prevent it.
Are 80plus power supplies worth it? Extremetech just that question recently. Based on their conclusion, not usually, at least not solely for power savings. But it’s an easy way to get a box built to stricter tolerances with higher-quality electronics. Read more