When you purchase an item of consumer electronics it isn’t actually the manufacturer who has the main legal responsibility if the product goes wrong. The oft quoted “sale of goods act” applies to the person with whom the customer has exchanged the ownership. In most cases the contract of purchase is with the retailer and thus the onus is with them to assist the customer after sale. A manufacturer has a limited responsibility in the case that the retailer cannot, or will not, honour the warranty but in most cases it is the retailers generosity and discretion that prevails when the customer is speaking directly to the manufacturer. Also remember that after six months the customer is deemed to have accepted that the goods are in working/acceptable order and if there is a problem after this period the customer must prove that the product was faulty at manufacture. Under six months the manufacturer must prove the product was not faulty at manufacture.
A manufacturer warranty is actually a form of insurance that is generally taken by the manufacturer on the products (either internally or externally guaranteed) and it is measured against the expected returns (when producing hundreds of thousands of units some must fail). A manufacturer may provide the company that purchases (the retailer) that warranty at whatever level suits their business model. In some cases a warranty is a point of negotiation because it must be built into the cost of dealing with that customer. In some circumstances a sales package may be offered to the retailer that says they cannot return any product to the manufacturer, in which case the retailer gets a better price because the cost dealing with that retailer is lower (in both logistics and support). A retailer will have a common warranty period that they can pass on but sometimes they might agree a shorter period because either the quality of the goods cannot be so easily quantified (re-manufactured product) or because they can achieve a lower retail pricing but give the customer a lower service level.
In most cases where a retailer sells the same product (not re-manufactured) as another but offers a lesser warranty this isn’t an indication that you are getting a lesser product and it isn’t that the retailer is trying to con the customer. It is just that they are offering a different service one that is consummate with their business model. This is also the case for extended warranties: they are offered where the supplier wishes to give the customer greater choice or an enhanced service. Although I will acknowledge that in some circumstances extended warranties have been pushed on customers to increase margins and also that re-manufactured stock (which often has a lesser warranty) has sometimes been sold by retailers as new stock without the customer knowing.
Yesterday I was looking at the O2 Joggler device and thinking how, despite the environmental concerns, I wouldn’t mind a UMPC as a digital sign in the lounge giving information such as weather, travel status, internet connection status and domestic energy consumption. However the Joggler is locked from customisation and the Hack the Joggler website seems to be offline at the moment.
But I was stumbling around the net as I usually do and I found that DealExtreme (those fab people in China who sell cheap stuff to the world) are selling a little but potentially powerful UMPC called the Smart Q5, this little devil runs ARM Ubuntu, has a 667MHz Samsung S3C6410 SoC chip, 1GB of flash and a modest 128MB of RAM. Now the 128MB of RAM is a little on the short side but it is workable and the fact that the chip has some video acceleration could be an advantage. The big hesitation for me with this product was the fact that it only has a 4.3in display and that isn’t very big compared to my HTC Touch HD mobile phone. This brings me to find the Smart Q7 which has the same specification but with a larger 7in screen.
Overall they are fun little devices and not without their flaws, but they have potential to make a big impact, especially if they had a little extra RAM. With this in mind I have purchased one for ‘testing’ purposes and will report back my findings.
The news on the BBC is talking about how it would be illegal to take the timber that has fallen from a Russian cargo ship recently and is heading down the English Channel. I grew up in Dover and coming from a port family I know very well that it is legal. Because the product is not buoyed to mark it’s ownership and thus is flotsum and may be collected by anyone who finds it. However they must notify the Receiver of Wreck to avoid being accused of theft.
Once it is lost at sea then first come first served.
There pop-up on the forums from time-to-time, and they complain why we don’t have one feature or another. In the latest thread on DigitalSpy they complained that our product didn’t feature 1080p, or DiVx decoding. So, I thought I wanted to post something on DigitalSpy, however common sense and experience tells me if I post it there I might regret it because it could be a reactionary posting by me, so I will post it here to vent:
“It depends on where you are targeting a product in the market as a manufacturer. We pay a licence for all technology we use (this may be different than you experience) for example we even have to pay a royalty for the use of Phono connectors. It would be a cost for us and eventually for the consumer, we already have people complaining about cost, should we limit our market further?
I won’t defend the scaler in the product, I have been over this issue countless times. Personally I recommend if you aren’t satisfied with the scaler to use the “Original” mode. We manufacture Televisions as well, and I know that the scaler chip we use can cost as much as the entire MPEG decoder chip (in a good TV). In a TV part of the cost you are paying for is the scaler, if we put a dedicated scaler chip in our STB product you would effectively be wasting the money you spent on your LCD TV and paying double.
An experience of using the scaler in a DVD player is more about ensuring the quality of the output of the DVD decoder and is mostly enhanced by using HDMI output for a digital-to-digital movement of signals.
In the end it comes down to a matter of choice, as a manufacturer we make choices that we have to balance (costs/sales) and the consumer has to make a choice to decide if the product is right for them. We make the product we feel most appropriate to make, we even take feedback, but ultimately the we are responsible for the choices and how they affect our sales. Some might even say they don’t have a choice because we are the only manufacturer of Freesat approved HD PVRs, that is still about choice, you don’t have to buy anything or you can buy a non-Freesat product or you can wait until another manufacturer decides to make a product.”
At least here I can remove it…
So, we’ve launched ‘freesat’ today. It seems to be going well, people are are trying to find the product and the product is starting to appear in shops. I hope it does well, the Humax Foxsat-HD is such a nice product and I am proud of our work on it. I keep getting asked when the Humax freesat PVR will be here, well that will have to wait until it is ready.
I have been authorised to unofficially comment on the messages I have had of late. I have been asked many times about the Humax freesat DTR (the technical term that we are using to describe this product, not a product number), better known to you as the intended first freesat HD PVR. Unofficially because we will clarify things with the press in due course through the usual channels.
Continue reading “Freesat HDR”
My brother write a blog entry yesterday about home networking and powerline technology. And without knowing, he’s actually commenting on a subject dear to my professional heart.
My company produces very nice DRT (digital television recorder / PVR) products, some of the best in the industry (so the man from Sony tells me). We are really trying to lead the industry when it comes to this product range and my job is to help influence that. It is my feeling, and that of many others, that there will be a consumer device, probably in the lounge, probably grown out of a DTR product and probably it will extend it’s reach well beyond the lounge. My first hope is to secure support for DLNA, this technology makes it easy for network connected devices to share resources or control each other. From a media point of view this means that content can be streamed from one device to another without complex user intervention.
Power line technology is a lovely idea, unfortunately from a manufacturers perspective to integrate it into a product is very expensive. The cost of the module is easily more than the cost of an HD decoder chipset. This means that I struggle to justify putting it into a product when I know that the majority of consumers will never actually use the technology. I am also a bit dubious about putting signals over wires that weren’t designed to handle them, the mains in the UK is about 240V at 50Hz, the cable is designed for that and works well enough. But when you start putting complex noise signals at wide bandwidth over them you are going to have some effect at some point. Powerline delivered broadband already has a huge objection from the HAM radio groups and radio astronomy groups, thousands of low cost PLT home devices can’t be much better (even if they are lower power).
We are however striving to add ethernet ports to as many products as possible and we are working on some decent software to exploit it to the full. I do conceed however using these plug adaptors could be an easy way to avoid the fact that wireless never delivers even close to it’s stated bandwidths and most consumers don’t want to rewire their house for Cat-5e/6. Although remember that current electrical installation requirements in the UK now often require a professional electrician to do the install otherwise you can’t sell your house.
I would like to publically thank (as much as I can here) the company "Learning with Linden ".
They have sorted me out with the brackets for a projection screen that was delivered in a poor state by the vendor. The vendor has been difficult to deal with on this problem, but looking over the delivered package I noticed a name on it that included a model number. By googling that name I found "Learning with Linden" and from there I was able to find the product.
I was able to call them, explain my situation and after they verified I had purchased the product they said they would send me the brackets tonight in the post! Wonderful, well, I will see and perhaps update you.
To update you, it went up, it doesn’t look great, but then again you get what you pay for in life, and it didn’t cost much.
I've seen multi-touch before and everyone knows about the iPod Touch and iPhone, but Microsoft have gone one step further with "Surface " and produced a commerical product which has much greater potential for social interaction:
Continue reading “Microsoft Surface”