What Does "Durability" Mean, Exactly?

closeThis post was published 12 years 2 months 15 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.
Has anyone noticed a trend in electronics lately? No, I don’t mean the tendency to make things smaller. No, not the switch from silver to black, or black to white, or whatever. I mean the lack of durability in modern devices. Things today just don’t last as long. Really! Five years ago, one could buy a laptop, for example, and reasonably expect to be using the same laptop, the same way, with the same routine (provided one’s requirements were the same) ten years later. Now? You’re lucky if your laptop lasts a couple of years. Things fall apart all too quickly these days.

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.


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

One Comment:

  1. Did you know, that the school’s contract includes repair of those notebooks? you just need to send it in and it will be fixed, reimaged, and shipped back to you the next day? they have a 2 year replacement contract. do you actually use the pen? why dont you contact heather about getting it in for repair? did you know it will not cost you anything? the school even pays shipping. I know for a fact that they have the parts to fix them in stock.

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