A Year Without Spending – Day 16 – God Damn Consumer Electronics

Remote Control Woes
Remote Control Woes

Well today it happened. The crap consumer stuff I buy finally decided it was time I owned a new DVD player for the office. This really is the most stupid device I’ve ever come across. It was a cheap £10 DVD player from Asda that I bought a few years ago for the sole use of watching DVD’s in the office. It has been used for around 30 DVD’s in that time, as I often watch movies on the big HDTV in the living room. So today I come to watch the last few episodes of Red Dwarf series 6, and god damn, the remote control has died.

Now you would think that this would be no more than a pain in the arse for me, I’d simply have to get out of my comfortable leather seat and control the DVD from the unit, but you would be wrong. This ingenious piece of consumer electronics has 3 buttons on the front, Play, Open and standby!!!!! By pressing play at the main menu of a DVD you can get the DVD to play, but you can’t skip forwards or backwards. This means I have watched the episode Psirens at least 4 times today as I’ve tried to watch the disk in various sittings!!! This is shocking. At first I thought it was the battery, and being a shoddy piece of consumer crap, this remote has tiny flat button batteries like in a watch. After searching high and low I found a working button battery, and tried it in the remote, but the damn remote seems to be faulty. This essentially renders this DVD player useless. I’m determined not to throw the unit away, and I’m currently drafting an email to Asda requesting a replacement remote control.

This whole debacle got me really angry though. Why is it seen as normal to throw stuff away because of the tiniest fault? I have a friend who is a product designer, and I once asked him why for instance my grans washing machine was still fine after 20 years, and why people go through the new ones in a matter of years. He told me that product designers are now asked and encouraged to design products with weak points, or developing flaws, to ensure that nothing lasts and that we keep on buying. He said, for instance, that a washing machine made of strong metal will have various plastic components, such as the high stress latch, which will be a designed weak point. The thought of this has always made me so cross. If I pay for a quality item, I want a quality item, and I will replace it when I’m good and ready.

This DVD remote is another example of how badly things are produced. For one thing, sourcing the CR2025 batteries is neither easy or cheap, so by placing these batteries in this remote, the manufacturer is basically selling a disposable product. The mentality behind this is that the DVD player is so cheap to begin with, why bother maintaining and caring for the product. Just bin the thing, get back to Asda and buy another one. I will not buy another and I will source a replacement remote. I may even disassemble the remote and try a home made fix. I certainly won’t be replacing the unit.

Right rant over. I’ll go back to watching these Red Dwarf epiosdes on the PC. Just to let you know, i got through another day without spending, no replacement batteries or DVD player, which has made me feel cross due to the fact that its broken, but happy with the fact that I’ve not already sought a cheap replacement. More news on the DVD debacle in the coming days, especially if Asda reply.

John Large

My name is John Large. I am a Web Developer, E-commerce site owner & all round geek. My areas of interest include hardware hacking, digital privacy & security, social media & computer hardware. I’m also a minimalist in the making, interested in the Tiny House movement & the experience economy along with a strong interest in sustainability & renewable energy. When I’m not tapping on a keyboard or swiping a smart phone I can be found sampling great coffee, travelling the world with my wife Vicki (who writes over at Let’s Talk Beauty) & generally trying to live my life as unconventionally as possible.

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