Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tech obsolescence: CLIE TJ-27 and the missing stylus

An interesting lesson in technical obsolescence. Something worth considering in many different contexts.

My wife and I both have CLIE TJ-27 PDAs. They're nowhere near as satisfactory as the Palm Vx of eight years ago, but they were barely tolerable and we continue to use them. Except the stylus (styli) is exceptionally crummy. The sliding toothpick loses its internal "lock" mechanism after a few months of use, and needs to be replaced.

Except replacements are becoming very hard to find. Only Froogle.com could find anything -- and the vendor is in Canada: eBay: Sony Clie PEG-TJ27 Stylus/Styli/Pen (Retractable Repl.. (item 5790782752 end time Aug-18-05 11:00:42 PDT). The charge is $10 a stylus and $10 for shipping. That's a significant portion of the cost of a new PDA that would come with 2-3 styli. On reflection, I'll look for dusty packages in the back of PDA sales racks and I'll plan on replacing the devices.

The TJ-27s will be discarded, for want of a 'nail'. In a similar vein, I recently discovered an extended warranty on a Samsung air conditioner was essentially worthless because the nearest service center is about a 45 minute drive away (I don't get time to do that sort of thing). The lessons? Buy items that have a large enough installed base to support a healthy aftermarket.

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