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The unfortunate footprint of new gadgets

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10240088-54.html

 

I recently read this article and found it very interesting. For me, something like this presents a new oppurtunity for innovation.

 

Any thoughts or input?

post #2 of 5

There have been a few articles popping up here and there regarding this - it is a real concern, particularly since so much of the world wants a living standard like the USA and Europe.  Not saying that is bad or we should work to deny such advances, but perhaps we need to look at our own consumption and reel it back in a bit with some common sense and prudence on our level of personal energy usage.

 

One item that gets alot of flack is the upcoming e-newspaper reading devices.  Tho they may give you a cool look reminescent of an actual paper version of the newspaper on the screen, we should step back and think: "Do I need this, or is it just an extra electronic item that is not really needed since I have a laptop and internet capable phone already?"  They don't really serve a real purpose that other devices already fulfill.  The paper news media want you to buy them - perhaps even pay to subscribe to their services to feed them... because they are going bankrupt due to the internet already!  How to save the paper media companies is another discussion... , but it won't be with paper, and it probably should not be with a redundant energy consuming device... IMO.

 

Pure iPods/MP3 players are likely going to be endangered species in the coming years due to the overlap of the devices with cell phones.  They will still be here, but within a phone.

 

...since everyone from tweens to seniors it seems has a cell phone - and with some sort of wireless/bluetooth device being required for talking while driving with the devices, the number of devices being "charged" has grown dramitically... hmmmm.

 

One thing that is often left out of the conversation is the progress on the vampire power used on these devices.  The newest devices in our home (iPhone 3G, DVD player, LCD HDTV, Remote home phone chargers) have all registered "0" watts - or <1 watt - when put on a Kill-A-Watt device.  They may show 1 or 2 watts if a big charge is being had; but a maintaining charge or just plain standby mode they don't register a full watt.  This is big news being the items they replaced registered from 2 - 8 watts each!  (Note that all of the above devices replaced existing similar devices - none were new loads.)  The devices like the HDTV and DVD player use the typical wattage when in use - but for the vast majority of the time, they are off... using almost nothing.  It's a big and welcome improvement to at least be putting a dent in the vampire power end of the equation.

post #3 of 5

There's definitely room for innovation when it comes to energy efficiency of electronic gadgets.

 

We did actually have a debate about the Kindle and other e-readers a while back: http://greenhome.huddler.com/forum/thread/238/debate-of-the-day-4-are-electronic-reading-devices-greener-than-books

 

It's interesting to compare their footprints to those of paper media.  But you're right.  If you can already use your laptop for the same purpose, do you really need another device for reading?

 

And another issue with consumer electronics, and a place for lots of innovation, is with their disposal.  It seems many things these days are built to break.  Or even take the average cell phone plan...even if it's not broken, you still get to "upgrade" every two years.  But what happens to the old cell phone?  For most people, it just gets stuck in a drawer. 

 

In any case, whether we love them, hate them, can or can't live without them, the life cycle of consumer electronics could use another look.

post #4 of 5

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stins View Post

There's definitely room for innovation when it comes to energy efficiency of electronic gadgets.

 

We did actually have a debate about the Kindle and other e-readers a while back: http://greenhome.huddler.com/forum/thread/238/debate-of-the-day-4-are-electronic-reading-devices-greener-than-books

 

It's interesting to compare their footprints to those of paper media.  But you're right.  If you can already use your laptop for the same purpose, do you really need another device for reading?

 

And another issue with consumer electronics, and a place for lots of innovation, is with their disposal.  It seems many things these days are built to break.  Or even take the average cell phone plan...even if it's not broken, you still get to "upgrade" every two years.  But what happens to the old cell phone?  For most people, it just gets stuck in a drawer. 

 

In any case, whether we love them, hate them, can or can't live without them, the life cycle of consumer electronics could use another look.



 

Absolutely we need to look at the life cycle of consumer electronics.  I was just thinking the other day - my Prius has a built-in nav system...  why can it not - and others like it - be updated (the maps) now and then via our cell phone connection or similar (my car has built in bluetooth as well).  I believe there are portable systems now that can do that, but it really is not rocket science - even for a 2005 model - to have such a feature.  I can buy, I think, and updated DVD for the system, but expensive.  I can extrapolate this issue to many devices... they are not built to last, but to be replaced.  When I worked with computers and networks, there were many expensive devices that could not only get software updates, but firmware updates to the chips.  There are still devices that do this - like my iPhone, but so many are built to become outdated in a few months...  so many business models require consumers to over-consume, or their business dies.

post #5 of 5

Maybe 35 years back all residential construction electricians I knew used Milwaukee drills - the things were built heavy duty and could be sent in for renovation many times. Initial price was 3 or 4 times the cost of a cheaper drill such as Skill or Black & Decker but the thing would last forever with good factory rebuilding. They were cheaper in the long run.

 

Consumer items we buy now at competetive prices are not built to last like that as there is no consumer market for expensive common items - we get what we pay for - unfortunately. 

 

Commercial is a different story - you may well have an engineer specifying what he needs and is willing to pay for it. The upgrades & rebuilds are possible as needed over time to come.

 

How to change the mindset of the consumer? I doubt it will be.

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