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Early Adopters Experiencing More Bugs? 129

As the pressure to push out new technology product continues, early adopters are continuing to experience trouble. A reader wrote to mention a USA Today article about some recent new product problems. From the article: "Philips Electronics revealed Friday that it is recalling 11,800 plasma television sets. The Ambilight TVs were sold in the USA from June 2005 to January 2006 for $3,000 to $5,000. Faulty capacitors inside the sets can spark. Nine incidents have been reported, but retardant material inside the TVs has prevented any fires, spokeswoman Katrina Blauvelt says. The problem is not expected to affect other brands, because it is a part related to Philips' unique Ambilight feature, which casts a colored glow on the wall behind the TV."
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Early Adopters Experiencing More Bugs?

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  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#14956229)
    It seems that we just accept these things now as inevitable. When products were produced, even as little as 10-20 years ago, I think they went through a much more thorough testing cycle before they were released to the public. With the advent of the Internet, expecially with software products, this idea of "release broken, patch later" just became the normal way of doing things. Since everyone running a business uses computers, this idea started creeping into products that couldn't be patched over the Internet. Of course, when companies start getting hit with the massive bills for these kinds of failures, I think we'll see the pendulum swing the other way. It's not even about massive consumer backlash anymore. (Which used to be the only motovating factor) It's simply that if Phillips has to pay a technician $30 - $50 (or more) to go onsite and replace a cheap defective part for 12,000 TV sets, they will start paying more attention to testing.
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:48AM (#14956234)
    Anyone who buys a complex product that's not in very wide circulation runs the risk of getting more bugs in the system. Take kitchen appliances for example. That $6000 refridgerator that's even been in production for a few years is a lot more likely to have bugs in its operation than the $1200 one that's been around for the same amount of time. Why? Because hundreds of thousands of people buy the $1200 compared to the few thousand who bought the $6000 one. That $1200 unit has been in a lot more homes so the company has had time to better refine the product. Granted if you buy the top shelf item I imagine the manufacturer will jump through as many hoops as possible to keep your business since they did make a tidy profit off of you and want to keep you around as a future sucker... I mean customer.
  • by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:50AM (#14956248)
    This has been known for a long time now. Apple afficionado's call it the "Revision A Syndrome" where nobody who knows their stuff will buy a revision A. Look at the first iMacs and their hard drive and processor problems, the first iMac flat panels and their arms collapsing or the first imac G5 and their capacitors and overheating and fan noise problems. The first eMacs and their analog board problems making for half a display or the revision A G5 with their PCI and fan noise problems. Revision A 15" powerbooks had screen white blotch problems. Revision A white iBooks had some of the worst screen and logic board problems of any macbook.

    But it is fixed in the end and progress continues and there are then models that are gems that are known never to give the owners any problems at all and have few issues to ever have warranty fixes. that is what early adopters are for.

    watch it continue with the new revision B iMacs when they fix the intel screen problems plaguing them, or revision B macbook pros fixing the dull flickery screen and keyboard brightness problems and dying magsafe connectors and the revision B intel mac mini when they fix its overheating, DVI flickering and dying hard disc problems.

    early adopters pay a price but they get what is coming before anybody else so in that case they are getting an advantage by six months and they know they are sometimes willing to pay for something not as good as later.
  • by ursabear ( 818651 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:52AM (#14956259) Homepage Journal
    FTA: The problems don't necessarily mean tech firms are suddenly designing shoddy products, NPD's Baker says. But they are outsourcing more to save money..

    I'm not an overly-critical person, but I think the article is FULL of juicy, one-sentence generalizations like the above.

    I'd be more interested in knowing the frequency of this type of issues, the actual brand to which these things have happened (beyond Phillips' issue), and the nature of the issues.

    By the way, getting service on a TV, VCR, CD, or DVD machine is interesting. Contrary to the article's statment, you'd be surprised at how many brands are actually in the food chain of a very few companies.
  • Um... naturally... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:12AM (#14956343) Homepage Journal
    It stands to reason that a new product hasn't quite gotten all of the kinks out yet. With years of experience as an engineer this comes as no suprise.

  • Less headaches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shawn Parr ( 712602 ) <parr@shawnpa r r .com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:34AM (#14956473) Homepage Journal
    As for Ambilight - just what is the point of that feature? It makes your wall glow? I've seen the adverts for it and it just screams gimmick.
    IIR, the whole point of this is that there have been studies which show that when one lights the wall behind a projection screen or TV, especially in a darkened room, it is supposed to lead to less eyestrain and headaches.

    Of course you are correct that just setting a light behind the TV is not terribly difficult, however some people do like to have nice clean rooms without a lot of cables and or extra equipment floating around, thus their tendancy to buy one of these TVs.

  • Re:Ambilight! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by camt ( 162536 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:43AM (#14956522) Homepage
    Despite the humor of your post, Ambilight is a very cool technology -- ambient back-lighting significantly reduces eye strain. I was very hopeful that other companies would come out with equivalent alternatives or start licensing it from Philips -- it deserves to be on every TV set sold, wall-mounted or not.
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:50AM (#14957040)
    I used to dabble in electronics and from time to time, companies would simply produce a bad batch of capacitors. Unfortunately, you can't really tell if they're bad (unless they simply don't work at all or have the wrong value) until they fail. I don't know that this is the problem, but this can happen in mid-production, just getting a new batch of capacitors that just happen to be bad. It wouldn't matter if it were an early version or late version in that case.

    Again, I don't know that that's the case here, and to be sure, bad batches of capacitors, at least in my experience, aren't terribly common...
  • by duffstone ( 946343 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @12:53PM (#14957586) Homepage
    That's not surprising really. One thing you failed to mention though is the difficulties involved in supporting an audio product.

    I worked CLI support for 4ish years way back when. I saw a lot of things come and go, and a lot of problems crop up and get resolved over time. The problem with Audio support is that it's very subjective. Yes I saw plenty of hardware issues with CLI's products that eventually got revised or phased out. I also saw a lot of problems that were indeed caused by environment and / or existing dirty hardware.

    As a tech, it's very hard to work these issues as you can try everything in the book and not get any results. You can even get creative (no pun intended) and try tons of your own stuff and not get any better results. Noises (popping or otherwise) are very difficult to remove from a digital AND analogue style system that is common with modern computers. Supporting it / trying to fix it is a major PITA for techs especially when they're flying blind most of the time.

    I'm not saying that CLI isn't accountable (I'm not fond of the company now days), but it is possible that they simply couldn't figure it out. I saw a TON of problems like this when the ****** came out. For some reason it just didn't like some systems and we never found anything substantially in common between the systems involved. It was very frustrating. Especially given that the issue wasn't device failure, but rather device performance.


    P.S. From the support side (at least 8 years ago), we did everything we could to provide a solution as a tech. Be that sending data to developers (and working with them) or by doing extensive callbacks or replacements when necessary. If they don't do it now then shame on CLI. I personally haven't owned a CLI product in 6+ years so I couldn't comment on anything during that time period.

To be is to program.