Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Microsoft lessons from Target Trutech and my fancy JBL

Two years ago I spent far too much money on a fancy JBL iPod clock radio.

It was defective by design. My 3G b&w iPod wouldn't always start when the alarm went off. Later model iPods would always start, but they played a random tune (known defect of this device). The embedded OS crashed randomly, typically every few weeks. It's pain to reset when there's a 9V battery backup installed, so I gave up on the battery backup. The time and alarm configuration is cryptic to begin with, and there are many combinatorials to get wrong.

In the meantime I bought my 10 yo a $8 house brand Target Trutech clock radio. It's been very reliable, despite extreme abuse.

Tonight I threw in the towel. I bought another $8 "Trutech" for our room. It's very simple to program, the 9V battery backup works, the radio even makes some noise and the power adapter is quite compact.

I thought about paying more than $8, but my pre-JBL clock radio was a $90 SONY CD player/radio that died after about 10 months of gentle use.

In the 21st century there's no particular correlation between price and quality, and most brand names are meaningless. (Apple being the obvious exception.)

Today one can either buy the very cheapest device and save money, or buy a luxury brand (Apple, Bose, ?) and expect some support. The great middle is gone.

Speaking of which, Target is selling $300 ASUS "netbooks" that run Linux and bundle OpenOffice. They include a 4 GB solid state "drive" and 512MB of memory with embedded wireless. Within a year they'll sell for $200 and have 8 GB of storage and 1GB of memory.

Microsoft is not a luxury brand.

2009 will be an ugly year for Microsoft.

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