Tech News & Commentary
Shawn in Redmond, Oregon listens to the podcasts and is calling via the App told us: “Seems like a few products I have around my house are mysteriously having issues, where certain things stop working or don’t work properly. I’m wondering if it’s a ‘planned obsolescence’ issue. Looking for your opinion. Are these electronics companies using ‘planned obsolescence’ and is it legal? To me it seems like ripping off the consumers and I thought I’d ask your opinion on this.”
Shawn, Planned obsolescence is not only legal, but probably necessary. Planned obsolescence allows manufacturers to select materials that, while they may not last forever, will last for as long as the product itself is expected to, that means that they can be as efficient as possible when it comes to the materials they choose.
Having said that, there have been cases of programmed obsolescence that are much harder to defend, inkjet cartridges have been known to stop working before they’re actually empty, for example.
Now, realistically, most people want a new phone after a few years, having companies build phones that will last about that long, as opposed to decades, may make sense if it allows manufacturers to make devices affordable. The same goes for most other consumer electronics.
The truth is that planned obsolescence is built into everything, you just may not have noticed. Most sneakers only last a few of years, and we don’t mean “of wearing them,” if you leave them in the box for a few of years their soles may crumble when you take them out of that box. That’s because of the materials they use, they’re cheaper, they do the job well, and the only people who seems to have noticed the problem have been collectors and fans of discontinued models that stocked up while they could get them.
Planned obsolescence is probably less evil than people make it out to be. It’s not great for big name manufacturers to have products that die before they’re expected to, after all, if you bought a brand new Ford that lasted you 6 months, wouldn’t you look at Chevy for a replacement? Only, there’s more than Ford and Chevy, there are scores of manufacturers out there, so they won’t be passing customers back and forth either, they may just lose them to better competitors.
The point of planned obsolescence is largely to not lose money on making things eternal when they’re only expected to work for a finite amount of time, and to have plans for the obsolete products, whether those plans will be recycling them, or ending support after a set time, or anything else.
Consumer Reports Segment:
Sony took the wraps off its 2015 TV lineup last week, but the buzz wasn’t all about higher resolution. Consumer Reports’ electronics spokesman James McQueen is here with the details.
The “Into Tomorrow” team discussed the latest apps that they have been playing with recently.
• Mark doesn’t recommend: YouNow, FREE
Exciting and easy way to chat, meet new friends and discover what’s trending.
- “Okay, we all know that I have a thing about amateur video streams. It’s no secret. A few weeks back, I took on Periscope vs. Meerkat and said that Periscope was, in my opinion, the better platform. After saying that, I was told to check out YouNow. YouNow, like Periscope, is a live streaming service for computers and an app for smartphones. Where it differs from Periscope is the age of the streamers and the type of streams. Periscope had a lot of people just video streaming their day as they walked around. “Me eating lunch. Me shopping.” YouNow, typically, the camera is on the broadcaster and they’re chatting with their audience. Unless, of course, they’re sleeping. Yes, at any given time, #sleepsquad will find about 50 people streaming themselves as they sleep. Anyone else see The Truman Show? That’s an important movie, right about now. YouNow also lets you give tips (that means cash) to the streamers to get their attention. That has the potential for abuse, but YouNow says they have moderators watching the service very closely and in my time browsing around I didn’t see anything creepy or sexual being done for tips. I also found it easy to find streamers to watch, with a topical index available as well as a nice browse screen showing me the active channels, something I dinged Periscope for when I reviewed it. So check out YouNow. It’s free to stream and free to watch, but apparently your tips are welcome.” — Mark
What are your favorite Apps? Let us know at 800-899-INTO and we’ll feature them in this segment!
Rich Bira, Managing Director USA – FIBARO
system that lets you automate all aspects of your home using simple, non-invasive products
Allan in Kissimmee, Florida listens to the Podcast asked: “I have a gaming desktop and I’m looking to upgrade the video card. Just wondering what to look out for.”
Allan, You should look out for unrealistic expectation first of all, when you upgrade your graphics card, your games should run better, but they may not run as well as you’d like them to, if the rest of your computer is still not up to the same standards of the new graphics card.
You should also keep an eye out for compatibility both with the rest of your desktop’s components, but even with your desktop’s own case, some modern graphics cards are close to a foot long. Pay attention to both RAM and it’s bandwidth, you want enough memory to load the images that will fill up your screen, but also the speed to get them there without delay.
You probably don’t want to spend a ton of money on the top of the line super expensive card, if it’s going to be overkill for what you need or for what the rest of your computer can use. Typically, people seem to find a sweet spot around $200 where good cards can be found that are also worth buying, but your mileage may vary.
The two big names in gaming video cards are NVIDIA and AMD, but those aren’t usually the name on the card itself. They are the names of the companies making the graphics processors–the chips that make the cards go. As to which one is better? Well, what day is it? They keep releasing new chips on a regular basis, and they’re playing a game of high tech leapfrog where each company takes the lead and holds it until the other company releases a new product.
Finally, don’t go by the specs on the box. They will confuse you. The specs they publish on boxes sound very similar between cards. The things they don’t publish, like shader units, clock speed, and pixel fill rate, are indicators of true speed. There is no such thing as a free lunch. A $50 video card is much slower than a $200 video card, and much much slower than a $600 video card. The sweet spot is $150 to $350. Under that and you’re not getting enough card. Over that and you’re spending to win the benchmark race–you’ll never see the difference in the current generation games.
For more information tune in to Hour 1 of our podcast.
Ron in Tennessee listens on WTN 99.7 asked: “I’m 65 years old and I got a Samsung tablet and can’t figure out how to use it. It’s blank and I’ve been sliding around. Is there a book on Dummies for tablets.”
Ron, There is, it’s actually called Samsung Galaxy Tab for Dummies, but you may benefit more from having a person show you how to use it.
If you have any friends or family willing to give it a shot, it probably won’t be too hard to learn. Tablets should be fairly intuitive devices to use, so just some basic pointers may be enough to get you started.
The really great thing about tablets is that it’s almost impossible to do something by just playing around with it that prevents the tablet from working. If you don’t know what you’re doing with a computer, you can cause more harm than good. But on a tablet? Tap and swipe to your heart’s content and see what happens. It’s really designed for the average Joe to be able to use it, so you might find that a little exploration goes a very long way.
For more information tune in to Hour 1 of our podcast.
This Week’s Prizes for Our Listeners
OWC: Dual USB Flash Drives – The amazingly small flash drive with both a Micro USB and a regular USB interface all-in-one.
Education.Com: Several “Brainzy” 12-month codes for online early-learning programs for math and reading. If you’ve got Kids … you WANT one of these!
PhoneSoap: Several Antibacterial – All Natural Touch Screen Polish (Ad lib: sorta like Cap Stick for your Phones & Tablets)
NanoTech: Several UltraFlix Gift Cards for 4K Content, like movies and a ton of other cool stuff. Let us know if you have a 4K Ultra HD TV!
iLuv: A pair of ReFashionOlogy Canvas Exterior, Collapsible Headphones with a Titanium Diaphragm
Westinghouse: Unplug Wireless Bluetooth Sound System