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The Disposable VCR

by Eric Giguere
October 3, 2003

Did you know that a VCR is now a disposable item? I didn't, at least not until recently when our 13-year old VCR broke. When I called about having it serviced, they recommended that I buy a new one instead, because they'd charge me $25 (all prices are in Canadian dollars) just to look at it and the cost of the repair itself would likely be between $50 and $75. Besides, our VCR had apparently lasted well beyond its expected lifetime.

When I get to the electronics store, I ask to see their Sony VCRs — my wife has a definite preference for Sony products. Sony now only sells two VCR models in Canada: the SLV-N500 for $140 and the SLV-N700 for $170. Both are 4-head Hi-Fi VCRs with substantially the same features. The salesperson explains the minor differences (colour and size are the most visible differences) and then drops the bombshell:

"You can't repair these," he says.

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"You can't bring it in for servicing. If anything happens to it in the first year, you ship it back to Sony and they ship you a replacement."

"What happens after the first year?" I wonder.

"You throw it out and buy a new one," he says simply.

There you have it: the disposable VCR. I can remember when VCRs — especially 4-head Hi-Fi VCRs — cost $800, not $140. In fact, there are VCRs from less well-known brands that are even cheaper — I saw one for $99 at the same store. When an $800 VCR broke, you paid to fix it. But not anymore!

I took my VCR home and discovered that it was mostly plastic, like any good disposable object. It works well enough, and even has some features that our old VCR didn't — this VCR automatically sets its clock. You can easily push the VCR right off its stand if you're not careful, though!

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This page was last modified on Last modified on October 3, 2003
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