*NEWS*INNOVATION PUTS MONEY ON TOSSING…

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*NEWS*INNOVATION PUTS MONEY ON TOSSING…

 user 2008-01-14 at 12:21:00 pm Views: 56
  • #18969

    Innovation puts money on tossing, not fixing
    The Canon Pixma iP1800 printer, according to its manufacturer, lets its user “produce beautiful, long-lasting photos with borderless edges, from credit-card size up to 81/2 by 11 inches.”It spits out up to 20 pages per minute in black ink and 16 in color, with a borderless printer option to make those photos look as if they just rolled off the machine at the local hour-processing picture shop.And it retails online, as of this writing, for $49 — a mere $9 more than it’ll cost you to change the black/white and color ink cartridges the first time that’s needed.The Canon Pixma iP1800 is an example of what’s become a trend in the computer industry, and a strange one at that, given the “think green” push so many people have undertaken recently: We’re nearing the point where it’s smarter financially to just throw away a printer when it needs ink.It’s a strange phenomenon. Companies are making products so inexpensive that when they break down (and critics argue that breaking down comes hand in hand with a cheap build), that repair is going out of style.DVD players that once cost hundreds of dollars can be purchased for $50.Laptop computer screens on a $600 Toshiba Satellite laptop cost more than $400 to replace, once you figure in labor costs.

    Dropping prices
    And with desktop computer prices continuing to drop, shelling out $300 on a replacement motherboard looks less like a viable option every month.”In several industries — refrigerators, stoves and such — when they do the maintenance, they can’t just replace one part anymore,” said Jeff Brewer, an associate professor of computer technology at Purdue University.”There are so many parts put together. You don’t fix it, you replace the whole thing.”Some of the pieces have become so inexpensive now, that instead of paying $40 an hour for someone to diagnose the problem, you just go replace the piece. The acceleration is the difference between labor and product cost.”Even some cell phones can be thrown away without much thought. For $20, a customer can buy a pay-as-you-go phone off the shelf at an electronics store. If it gets dropped in a puddle, well, who cares, right?It all brings to mind a commercial spoof from the 1996 season of “Saturday Night Live,” wherein Will Ferrell shilled the Darnette Disposable Toilet — “fine porcelain fixtures for just $169.95 each” that could be replaced after every flush.Now, more than a decade later, disposable toilets aren’t vogue (yet), but higher-tech gizmos have become increasingly likely to end up in a trash can at the first sign of a problem.”Personally, I think it’s cheaper to throw them away because there’s no place to repair them anymore,” said Joe Ballard, director of the Vanderburgh County Solid Waste District.Ballard’s experienced the phenomenon firsthand. He took his VCR in for repair, went back a few days later and was told the machine could be fixed — for $120.”So I said, ‘Why?’ When I can buy one for $50 to $60.”High-tech purges aren’t causing problems in landfills because of their volume, Ballard said.”It’s fairly innocuous,” he said. “The problem is when people toss out old monitors, which have lead, nickel cadmium and mercury in them.”There are alternatives to sending that old printer or keyboard to the great trash heap down the street. Many nonprofits are always on the lookout for equipment for use in their offices. Many schools recycle empty printer ink cartridges for money. And cell phones can be donated to domestic violence safety shelters for use by victims.