Archive for the ‘Electronics’ Category

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THE WAITING GAME

January 19, 2010

“You don’t have a flat screen yet?”

“There’s no reason to buy one. I don’t have a digital TV subscription or even the “box” that you need for digital cable TV.”

“What are you waiting for?”

“My regular TV to stop working.”

“How long have you had it?”

“Less than two years.”

We have 6 (yes… six) tube TVs in our house. All are still working and show no signs of making their “transition” anytime soon. My hope is they don’t all decide to “leave us” in the same month.

Oddly, I am no couch potato. I rarely just watch TV. In the kitchen, I’m either cooking, washing dishes or eating a meal while trying to catch up on the latest political news. There’s a small black and white in front of the treadmill only to keep my mind off how much I despise being on the treadmill. My wife has one in her office which she uses much the same way I use the one in my office – as background noise. We have one in the bedroom, which is only good for falling asleep. The one in the living room is rarely used, unless we watch a movie or there’s a special televised event.

So unless I win the lottery, I don’t foresee switching my TVs to HD flat panels anytime soon.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned my son’s 1080p, 10 foot, TV projection system, which looks incredible. Watching a movie or sports is very dramatic when you’re only 8 feet away. He brought the projector home for the holidays and we watched OSU beat Oregon with it. Dad’s 50 inch flat panel looked like a kitchen counter television by comparison.

The only way to improve the experience is to go from two dimensional to three dimensional TV.

But we’re many years away from that… right?

Wrong.

3D HD TV, without needing any additional eyewear, is in development by Mistubishi.

Although it will be quite some time before general broadcasting can be done this way, some 3D broadcasts that do require special eyewear, are just around the corner. ESPN and Discovery Channel, in cooperation with Sony and Imax, are launching channels in 3D.  Unlike the 16 camera true 3D TV being developed by Mitsubishi, these events will be recorded and/or broadcast with the more widely used dual-lense cameras.

Knowing all of this, I will play the waiting game.

After all, could 3D HD TV Projection Systems be far off?

I think not.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Just a few thoughts about the game: My dad, my son, my brother, my cousin and everyone else I spoke with said we would to lose to Oregon. I completely disagreed. Once the Purdue “wake-up” call came, I watched Terrell Pryor (QB) make steady progress each week for the rest of the season. That “deer-in-the-headlights” look was gone from his face by game day at the Rose Bowl. I watched a young man who had finally come into his own. I believe he will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

This year, OSU ended up at #5 in the rankings. We could very well end up in the championship game next year – with a win. 

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IT’S NOT THE BEST BUY

July 31, 2009

Earns Best Buy

Let me start by saying I am a BestBuy customer. I think they offer good value on many items.

Not on cell phones.

BestBuy has been running commercials advertising offers on cell phones and calling plans from many popular providers.

This “convenience” will cost you twice as much or more for your phone.

Full disclosure: I have been a Verizon Wireless customer through many 2-yr contracts. My reception is strong and almost always uninterrupted – even in my recording studio, which is below ground level. Before Verizon, I tried many of the other providers and none worked in the studio.

It was time for me to upgrade my phone which was a Silver Blackberry Pearl 8130.

Pearl

I wanted to upgrade to the Silver Blackberry Curve 8330.

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The phones have identical operating systems. The only real differences are the keyboard and screen sizes.

Pearl-Curve

As I was coming close to my “Upgrade Date,” I kept an eye on the Curve. It was down to $49.99 for quite a while, but I was hoping it would be offered FREE with a renewed 2-yr contract. I waited until my “official” upgrade date and checked the price: FREE with a 2-yr contract.

 FreeCurve

Needless to say, I ordered it. The phone was delivered by FedEx THE NEXT DAY, also at no cost.

With a non-Verizon customer wanting the phone and a new 2-yr contract,  it’s $49.99.

VerizonBlackberry

BestBuy offers the identical phone, with a new 2-yr Verizon contract for $99.99.

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BestBuyBlackberry2

If you already have a contract with Verizon, the phone is $99.99 and you pay $9.99 to have it delivered. Huh?

BestBuyBlackberryPagesm

 

BestBuyBlackberry

So, if you’re currently a Verizon customer, it will cost you MORE to upgrade your phone than if you’re a first-time customer. Exactly the OPPOSITE of Verizon’s upgrade policy.

I understand wanting to make a little profit for the “convenience” of offering cell phones and plans at your favorite electronics store. But I don’t believe charging twice as much or more for the phones is worth the “convenience.”

Sorry BestBuy. You’re not living up to your name with cell phones.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

BTW – Did you notice the price of the phone without a plan? $579.99. Are you kidding me?

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MADE IN… WHERE?

April 7, 2009

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Over the years, we’ve come to rely on certain brand names. If you buy a product from a well-known manufacturer, you know you’re getting better quality than an “off-brand” product.

I must have been abducted by aliens while all this changed. When did GE, RCA, Sony and other well-known brands start building products that quit working after 60 days? Or, don’t work the way they are designed to work?

Case in point: Universal Remote Controls. These companies build single “universal” remote controls that are designed to operate all of our audio and video electronic devices. There are basically two types of universal remotes. There is the “learning” remote and the “coded” remote. Both have codes installed that will run most electronic audio/video devices. The difference is the “learning” remote will “learn” the code of your individual devices by “reading” their signals. This means it should run ANY device, once it “reads” the signal coming from that device.

So why does it take FOUR TRIPS to electronic stores to buy one that will function the way it should and last longer than college basketball’s March Madness?

3remotes

I’m sure most of you have seen these or similar Universal Remotes. All are from manufacturers that supposedly represent quality. Well…

The GE on the left quit working after 60 days. A second one quit working even sooner. The RCA in the center can only operate my TV – which, oddly enough, is not an RCA TV. It doesn’t have the correct codes for my DVD player, CD player or VCR. (Yes, I still have a VCR.) The Sony on the right works my TV and VCR, but will not run my DVD player or my Sony CD player. That’s right. My SONY Universal Remote doesn’t have a code in it for my SONY CD Player. Unbelievable.

And the common denominator among all these units? None of them are made in America.

The Sony is made in China.

madechina

The RCA is made in Indonesia

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I have no idea where the GE unit was manufactured. I even tore it apart to see if it was marked somewhere inside. Nothing.

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We have traded quality control and workmanship for no quality and poor workmanship in order to compete in the world market. Rather than being the leaders in manufacturing, we’ve opted for being greedy. Quality is now far less important than making money.

On the surface, paying less to build products appears to be a smart business plan: Higher profits (in the short run), lower wages, better stock prices which means better bonuses for management, all feed into this thinking – which has now come back to bite us – HARD!

When companies reduce quality, they must also expect income to drop eventually. A company may be able to “sneak” by with little attention to quality for a while, but sooner or later, sales will drop. Why not, instead, maintain and continually improve quality, maintain good wages and benefits for workers, and just charge more for the product? So what if your competitors are selling “similar” products for less money. In the long run, they lose – you win.

Building the better “mousetrap” is how this country became a manufacturing giant. We have the skill, technology and workforce to resurrect that business model once again.

There is no substitute for quality.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – I ended up with a universal remote from a company called – as God is my witness – Universal.

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It not only came with instructions, it even has a DVD to help you learn how to set it up. It operates the TV and DVD player perfectly, the VCR, partially – it can’t operate the clock and recording functions. As for the Sony CD player: it has no clue. (sigh)

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Oh yeah. It’s made in Korea.

😦