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.
For broken iPods and laptops, we’ve had great success with TechRestore, a California-based company that offers overnight repair service (which is really more like 3 to 4 days when you count the overnight shipping in both directions) and doesn’t gouge you on prices. Thanks to them, we have a first-generation iPod that still functions fine, now that it has a new logic board and battery. We’ve noticed that they’ve recently expanded their services to offer repair services for PC laptops and Playstation Portables as well. Another popular iPod repair service is iResQ.com.
If your previous-generation Xbox or PS2 goes out, you might want to try Llamma.com or Xboxrepairguide.com (which also offers parts for Nintendo handhelds and the Gamecube). You can buy replacement parts, how-to guides, or arrange to send in your broken device to be repaired or bought for spare parts.
When our Tivo stopped working, we did some quick troubleshooting with the help of the WeaKnees website and realized we needed to replace the power supply. A new one arrived in a week, and it was easy to swap out with the blown one.
If you’re afraid of damaging your own equipment, think of it this way: it’s already broken, so why not give yourself a chance to try a new challenge? And sometimes electronics are more resilient than you might imagine: we managed to pour diet coke into our Tivo while we were repairing it (don’t ask), but after letting it dry completely, it still functioned without problems.
The technologically literate might scoff at these services and just suggest you find your own spare parts on Ebay. But if you’re like us (eager to do-it-yourself but not sure how to pronounce “solder”) or even less technologically savvy, one of these places can save you hundreds of dollars or more without making you pull your hair out.