Take this Gateway tablet I have from school as an illustration. I got it from the main office about 13 months ago. Ten months ago, I noticed the plastic on the single hinge in the center beginning to deform, like there was a lot of stress on the joint. A month later, I could see an actual crack in the plastic. Eight months ago, the little piece of plastic bridging the gap in the top of the screen where the latch hooks in (an overly complicated mechanism, but that’s another topic) broke out. (The thing wouldn’t stay closed if I tried to carry it under my arm, and hasn’t since. Only a magnet keeps it closed when it’s on a table.) Now, after the last eight damage-free months, the spring mechanism that keeps the tablet pen in its carrier slot seems to have given out. Pushing the pen in and releasing it, instead of resulting in a click and a secure stylus, just kind of makes it sit there in its holster, ready to fall out if I try to carry the machine somewhere.
All this breakage makes me wonder if I should be performing daily backups of all my locally-stored data and programs. After all, the hard drive could be next. Why we are expected to go for $2,000 computers that we’ll have to replace in a year or two due to ridiculous physical damage, I don’t know. I just wonder how long consumers will put up with these fragile goods before realizing that things should be better, that they shouldn’t have to change MP3 players and cell phones every year or two. It’s probably only a matter of time, but it will be a long wait.