You may not think it from our backgrounds, but both John and I are late adapters. Dating from our poor student days, our attitude has always been ‘why fix (replace) it if it ain’t broken’, which is why John’s anno 1997 desktop is still standing next to mine (complete with dial-up modem, a new-ish DVD reader and hard drive upgraded to 12 GB. I think it still runs on 124 MB RAM, but the point is, it still runs.)
When the TV we inherited from John’s parents gave out after a quarter-century’s reliable service, he opened it up and took a look inside before declaring it buggered.
We opted for a new model from the same company. It came with a built-in video recorder and gave out about one week after the warranty expired. The picture just stopped, leaving the screen covered with grey snow.
It was probably just a loose connection. I called a few workshops.
“What you’d say, your plasma TV—”
“It’s not a plasma TV, just an ordinary—”
Chuckling on the line. “Can’t help you there, mate. It’ll cost you more for us to take a look than to buy a new one!”
We couldn’t even take a look ourselves. Even if we’d been able to prise the thing open, there were no components available. ‘No user-maintainable parts’ as the manual put it.
So we had to buy another TV (of another make). It came with an inbuilt video recorder and a DVD player. This time we took out an extended warranty and insurance.
A few weeks ago—just after the original warranty had expired—the DVD player stopped working.
It may just have been dust, but—again—it was impossible to access the thing and take a look. Only this time we didn’t worry. According to the terms of our policy, the TV should be collected and fixed.
I left John to phone the call centre. After a short battle, he got through to somebody in charge. Less than half a minute later, he put down the receiver.
“Replacement voucher’s in the post!”
“Rep—? But it’s just the DVD player! You can get plug-in players for under twenty quid.”
“All the same, that’s what they said.”
“But surely, they could fix it?”
“Nope, doesn’t pay.”
The replacement voucher arrived just before we went on holiday. It covered the cost of the TV and the remaining period of our extended warranty, and it was valid for three months.
Long story short, after our return we had to replace the car. Like John, I’m a firm believer in old-fashioned reliability and I can overlook a few patches of rust as long as the engine’s reliable, but—
“John, a cassette player?”
Not even CD. I bet all the new cars have MP3 players.
“Be glad that the radio works!”
OK, but it meant that we were constantly fighting over what station to listen to. It’s not like we could get Planet Rock on DAB… Sometimes it would be, well, cool to actually be up-to-date. Except that the price difference between our car and a car with an MP3 player is about 10,000 pounds.
Well, today we went to Curry’s to look at TVs. All the familiar monitors had disappeared, replaced by flat, wide screens with inflated price tags and dubious picture quality. Very few sported inbuilt DVD players. Quite a few sported inbuilt hard drives.
Our two-year-old TV, it turned out, was an antique. They don’t make ‘em like that any more.
Heads spinning, we walked up and down the aisles for a while, then turned on our heels and bought a plug-in DVD player for just under twenty quid.
Before we went home, I took a look at MP3 accessories. There is a huge range of portable speakers for the iPod on offer and even devices which connect it to the car radio. It would almost be worth getting an iPod, if I could stand the concept…
Actually, looking at the accessories, I felt smug about having a bog-standard MP3 player that connects hassle free with the Linux machine and is loaded with exciting songs from unsigned bands. I’m not a fan of DRM, and I don’t believe in proprietary formats. If it meant I’d have to wear earplugs/headphones to listen to music, so be it. Otherwise I’ll stick to good old-fashioned cassettes, thank you very much.
I was about to turn on my heels when I got stuck on that last thought. On the lowest peg hung a rectangular box with the word ‘cassette’ on it. Was it a cleaning tape? Here at Curry’s? In the twenty-first century?
No, it was an auto cassette adapter for MP3 players.
The ultimate in backwards compatibility!