Last year the Department of Energy, which co-administers the Energy Star certification program with the EPA, admitted that it allows many companies to certify their goods themselves. That was somewhat worrying, but nothing like what happened earlier this year when government auditors successfully got ludicrously power-hungry designs approved for the Energy Star label. The EPA and Energy Department have responded by announcing a new, stricter certification process. [More]
After a successful pilot program, Macy’s is putting fancy Japanese-style vending machines in 400 of its stores. They’ll sell things like iPods and cameras. Looks like Macy’s will have to add another list of things excluded from its not-very-valuable coupons. [Reuters]
Blockbuster has offered to buy Circuit City for a little over $1 billion, with the goal of creating “a chain that could sell portable devices and entertainment for them, much like Apple Inc.’s stores.” [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
Future Shop is a Canadian consumer electronics retail chain. Charlie used to work there, and has now passed along the 7 most common lies he heard salesmen use on unsuspecting customers. Whether you have a Future Shop in your area or not, you’ll find these lies familiar.
A British electronics retailer asked 2,000 men and women what they’d give up in exchange for a 50″ plasma TV, and according to them, “47 percent of men would give up sex for half a year.” Among women, the number drops to about a third who are wiling to forgo sex. We’re not going to pretend for a second that this study is in any way scientific, but still—six months? Seriously?
David Pogue thinks the Pleo dinosaur is meh. He’s seen it all before with Aibo, and despite all the “it’s so lifelike!” ad and editorial copy devoted to it, the charm wears off pretty much the same day you buy it: “My surprise, though, was my kids’ reaction. They thought it was really, really cool—for the first half-hour.” He’s proposed a new website idea where you’d sign up for the latest Hot New Thing coming out of CES, Toy Fair, Macworld, etc., then pay an ever-shrinking percentage of the original sales price to own it when your turn came in line.
Okay, so it’s not like there aren’t 15,000 MP3-player reviews already on the web, but SmartMoney decided to jump on the bandwagon and rate five 8-gigabyte MP3 players. Instead of hard stats and lab tests, they handed the devices to an NYU music instructor and audiophile and asked him to walk around the city playing with them. The Apple iPod Touch—at $300, the most expensive of the lot—came out on top, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone, but the SanDisk Sansa View performed well too.
TechForward, a new company in Los Angeles, provides fixed buyback prices on used electronics like cell phones and iPods. The catch is you pay up front—it’s an added fee when you first buy the device—for the right to resell your gadget to them a year or two down the line, and the amounts they’re offering are usually dramatically lower than what you can get if you sell it yourself on Ebay.
The dirty-sounding finance blog “Make Your Nut” works through the pros and cons of the latest Apple products, so that you can “make sure you enter into your purchases with eyes wide open.”
After the past week, it seems more and more likely that Blu-ray will be the movie disc format of the future.
A reader sent in this funny and bizarre customer support email from Creative—it’s a weird combination of broken English, pre-written paragraphs from macros (which, oddly, still have grammatical errors), Byzantine instructions for resetting and reformatting the broken device, and then five attempts to sell other products and services at the end.
The next time you go shopping for a camera, cell phone, video recorder, or other gadget, you can save money by deciding what features you really need, and moving down the model line instead of up to the most feature-packed gizmo, writes SmartMoney. For example, “Only 31% of cellphone owners actually use their phone to take pictures, while only 15% browse the Internet, and less than 10% listen to music, download games or watch videos.”
The executive editor of Consumer Reports spoke to Newsday about warranties and service plans for consumer electronics, and how it’s pretty much always an unnecessary add-on that you should avoid. The stories that make it to the Consumerist are usually the exception; in reality, it’s rare that consumer devices break before you replace them anyhow.
It begins—the year end “best of” lists! If you’re gearing up for the gift buying frenzy that will begin on Friday, here’s a quick slideshow of some of the most inspiring and least impressive electronics in the marketplace right now.
The consumer electronics industry doesn’t want us to know this (especially Apple, considering how frequently they update their iPod product line), but with care and a little maintenance, you can make your recent electronics purchases last longer than a couple of years. We should know: in the past five years, we’ve had large scale malfunctions (all out of warranty) with an iPod, a Tivo, a laptop hard drive, and an Xbox. Here is a short list of some places that can help you get your product back in working condition, so that you don’t just toss it out and buy a new one unnecessarily.
Former Consumerist Editor Joel Johnson takes to task so-called “bleeding edge” consumer electronic mavens, and the bloggers that feed them tripe. In a recent screed, he advises waiting for the early adopters to make the pricey mistakes for you, “before taking a modest plunge.”
Stop buying this crap. Just stop it. You don’t need it. Wait a year until the reviews come out and the other suckers too addicted to having the very latest and greatest buy it, put up a review, and have moved on to something else. Stop buying broken products and then shrugging your shoulders when it doesn’t do what it is supposed to. Stop buying products that serve any other master than you. Use older stuff that works. Make it yourself. Only buy new stuff from companies that have proven themselves good servants of their customers in the past. Complaining online about this stuff helps, but really, just stop buying it.
Complexity causes 50% of product returns, a new report finds.