back to article TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

TV sales are falling everywhere. It’s kind of official, but people are still prepared to argue about it. The number of LCD screens are being forecast to recover but no one is giving a reason why, as the number of TVs that they ship in, are definitely not rising. There is lots of intelligence out there in TV land, but the two …

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Bets on when the global economy will have to adjust to the fact that 'growth' aka consumption is not an end of itself and resources are not limitless?

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"consumption is not an end of itself and resources are not limitless?"

But it was always thus. Nobody in the real world (ie excluding millionaires) consumes for itself, they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out. The problem for TV's, mobile phones, computers is that the speed of useful end product innovation and improvement has slowed down, and the reasons to "upgrade" are becoming less compelling. And having had significant waves of innovation-driven upgrading, the demand side is stuffed with newish kit, creating a lull in "wear out" renewals.

If the TV makers came up with a compelling reason to spend £500 on a new set, people would buy it. Over older, smaller CRT tubes, a nice big flat screen was a no brainer, offering a far better experience, and well timed for the DTTV changeover. But 4K is currently too expensive and has little content., and arguably doesn't offer enough difference in quality on living room sized sets. 3D has been and gone as a technology that didn't offer a good enough experience to make it worthwhile, and IMHO Blu-ray will eventually do the same. Smart TV's still await a really good implementation, and the opportunity to sell sets on their smart capabilities has probably been supplanted, because whilst the makers messed around the market moved on, so that for casual browsing and emailing the solution is tablets.

Resources may not be limitless, but that's not stopping anybody upgrading (more like how many 42" screens do you need?), either the lack of need, or the cost, which reflects manufacturing technology and ability to pay as much or more than resources.

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"they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out."

Do you not understand that the old stuff was designed to wear out? Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades using 1920s technology. There is a lightbulb in america that's been burning for over 100 years. Then the Phoebus cartel was set up to limit bulb life to 1000 hours and we've been sliding into tyranny ever since.

LCD sets that don't fail from physical damage almost always fail from poor quality capacitors in the power supply which can be cheaply replaced to create a fully working set. Manufacturers know this and their contribution is to make the cases hard to open so you can't save yourself £500.

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Joke

Smart TV's still await a really good implementation, and the opportunity to sell sets on their smart capabilities has probably been supplanted, because whilst the makers messed around the market moved on, so that for casual browsing and emailing the solution is tablets.

A friend of mine once approached the lady on a kiosk showcasing a "smart" TV, and asked her in what sense the TV was "smart".

She didn't know.

I guess TV makers don't, either.

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Anonymous Coward

"Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

I am afraid that anybody who actually knows any metallurgy knows that the first and last examples are rubbish, and though I'm no expert on polymers I believe the second one is as well.

Anybody can make a light bulb last a very long time; under-run it. The problem is that incandescent bulbs are horribly inefficient to start with, and when significantly under-run, the cost of electricity to produce a given light output becomes many times the cost of the savings in light bulbs. 1000 hours has proven a good tradeoff in practice, with 2000 hours for halogen bulbs. Even so, LED bulbs now have a much lower TCO. My textbook on tungsten chemistry and physics has all the details.

Extremely hard materials like WC do not lend themselves to making very sharp blades suitable for razors. Again there is perfectly good physics and metallurgy behind the design of razor blades, which use much less metal now than they used to, but there is no material for which the tradeoff of life versus cost for a given cutting efficiency is any better.

These tired old stories belong with perpetual motion machines and water powered IC engines; they are just myths that can only be believed by people who don't know any of the science involved.

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MJI
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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

How to make your razor last longer.

Push it backwards for a couple of strokes against you leg.

It helps to keep the edge, I am managing to double the life of a Gillette 5 blade jobbie.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

"they are just myths that can only be believed by people who don't know any of the science involved."

Next you'll be telling me that there's a good reason they use capacitors filled with cats urine instead of properly designed ones that can run twice as hot for twice as long.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

That is also why (pre-LED) traffic light lamps had such good running times compared to house lamps - under-powering them was worth the greater energy-consumption due to both maintenance costs and road-safety reasons.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

and because energy is really cheap for everyone but domestic users who have to pay an inflated price to foreign energy companies for the sole benefit of their share holders (not the environment).

I wonder if Google has to phone up EDF and beg not to be cut off during winter? And they use enough energy to heat every elderly persons home on earth.

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"There is a lightbulb in america that's been burning for over 100 years"

Ever seen a picture of it? It's not exactly a 100w spotlamp...

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"Ever seen a picture of it? It's not exactly a 100w spotlamp..."

But it wouldn't make your whole house look like a truck stop restroom like the CCFLs do.

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Facepalm

Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

I am afraid that anybody who actually knows any metallurgy knows that the first and last examples are rubbish, and though I'm no expert on polymers I believe the second one is as well.

Well, there are folks who are reminded of Planck and the origins of quantum theory when the filament temperature of a severely undervolted incandescent lightbulb comes up, and there are other folks who are reminded of Lizard People and the History Channel instead. Right, what else is new...?

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Coat

Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

This actually has some basis - there are tiny folds on the blade which you straighten up by that, making the blade 'sharp' again.

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@ Truth4u

"But it wouldn't make your whole house look like a truck stop restroom like the CCFLs do."

I don't know where your buying your bulbs but my lamps don't do that. They're a mix of CCFL (for areas where lights will be on for extended periods so slow startup times aren't an issue) and LED (for areas where lights are on for a short/medium period so you need instant light)

The other lamps are usually the "pretend traditional" type (halogen lights hidden inside normal bulbs) where you need instant light (stairs, broom cupboards) or the fitting won't take a CCFL/LED because it has a dimmer.

I've not actually had to change a CCFL or LED due to failure as yet since I moved in two years ago. The ones that blow out are the 30w incandescent strip light or the pretend traditionals in my standard lamp (which go pop if they get a bash)

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Re: "5 blade jobbie."

Sounds like the lead from some nightmarish, faecal-themed horror flick.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

"when the filament temperature of a severely undervolted incandescent lightbulb comes up"

less voltage = better for environment.

I run all my bulbs severely undervolted on a 120 volt isolation transformer so I can get into heaven for using less volts therefore less carbon. QED.

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Re: "5 blade jobbie."

Try a single blade Bic. I find that the multi-blade razors tend to accumulate hair between the blades, reducing efficiency. Which probably explains why they work better when you rub it backwards down your leg.

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Re: @ Truth4u

> I've not actually had to change a CCFL or LED due to failure as yet

I've got an uplighter that I bought when I first moved into my own place in about 1992. It's in my front room, is on whenever it's dark, and has always had a CFL bulb. They seem to last around 6 years.

Since I moved into my current place 2 years ago I've replaced 2 of the incandescent spot bulbs in the kitchen and bathroom. I was toying with replacing them with LEDs, but the fittings have 3 bulbs each and I found a box of spare bulbs in a cupboard when I moved in so it never happened.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

Indeed, I have been using the same Gillette disposable razor since the start of the year.

The 'Razorpit' is quite amazing and actually works, last year I only used three razors!

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Re: @ Truth4u

CCFLs don't last a year in my place. Always the electronics that fail... maybe I get more spikes, and the voltage is a little on the high side of the normal range. Measured at over 240v on a DMM. The incandescent bulbs are even worse, lasting a month at most, sometimes I've had them fail the day after installation. All domestic lighting products are of extremely poor quality these days. Whatever type you get it was made in china a dozen to the penny and sold at over 1,000 % markup. It's just a fact.

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Re: @ Truth4u

I'd get your electrics tested properly. The one incandescent bulb I have to change "frequently" (i.e. once a year or so) is a strip light above an oil stove. Nothing else in the house needs changing more often than that.

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@rhydian

I've not actually had to change a CCFL or LED due to failure as yet

While I agree in general with the points you make, I have to say you've been extremely lucky with your CCFLs. I've had them fail in a matter of months. I've even contemplated contacting the manufacturers about the optimistic guarantees printed on their packaging, but I'm too lazy.

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@ Kubla Cant

I can't say I've had that happen even with cheapos from the supermarket/DIY barns. I'm probably just lucky or on a particularly "in spec" line.

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"But it was always thus. Nobody in the real world (ie excluding millionaires) consumes for itself, they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out."

Unfortunately, that's the not the model that manufacturers want to use any more.

Spurred on by the frankly insane cycles on smartphones, the rest of the consumer marketplace now wants the same model and would like us to buy a new tele every two years thankyouverymuch.

The idea that people should only buy new TVs, cameras et cetera when the old kit stops working has been pushed aside. New functionality is still a selling point, but the manufacturers now have a trickle-through of 'exciting new' functions which...aren't. And they aren't worth buying new for.

The issue is that retailers want to keep selling us shit faster than we want to buy it, and they think that putting a new gizmo on it every year will help.

It might work the first time or two, but after two upgrade cycles we can see what's coming and start thinking that £X per year for a new Y when the old one still works just fine is ripping the fucking piss a bit.

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Re: Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades etc -- why monitors fail.

@Truth4u

The (urban) legend goes that two employees of a Japanese capacitor manufacturer stole the formula for the electrolyte their employer used. Trouble is they wrote it down wrong so the formula they sold to rivals resulted in a generation of monitors and tellies which failed prematurely due to bulging caps.

I think more likely the rash of failures of models, all made in China, and 17 inchers upwards, was due to assemblers cheating their customers by substituting cheaper components which did not perform as specified. Notable that while, in my experience, the issue plagued brands as varied as Viewsonic and LG, defective Dell monitors I've come across have failed for other reasons.

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Angel

Re: <stuff about inbuilt obsolescence>

quote: "less voltage = better for environment.

I run all my bulbs severely undervolted on a 120 volt isolation transformer so I can get into heaven for using less volts therefore less carbon. QED."

Whereas I just use the night-vision goggles I got with the overpriced version of Call of Battlefield: Modern Ghost-Ops LXIV, and thus I am destined for Sainthood </smug>

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Anonymous Coward

"But it was always thus. Nobody in the real world (ie excluding millionaires) consumes for itself, they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out. "

You are ignoring the forced consumption for the sake of it. The government is constantly worrying about deflation and have many policies designed to avoid it because deflation means lack of consumption. GDP is a simple-minded measure of consumption and when did you last hear any economist celebrating a fall in that?

What these all those policies come down to is forcing consumption and waste. On the other side of the fence are the manufacturers who also fear deflation and need us to buy new shit when we shouldn't have to. Partly this is done with fashion and other psychological tricks but a lot of it is done by planned obsolescence.

You might think you don't consume for the sake of it, but the post-War economy is founded on the fact that in fact you do and in fact are not given the option to do anything else.

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MJI
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Re: "5 blade jobbie."

Single blades leave me stubbly, a good rinse removes the hair and gel.

The leg rubbing straightens the edge.

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MJI
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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

My bristles are getting harder to cut so now on blade two of the year.

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only the paranoid use lightbulbs... the intelligent use FL bulbs or LED bulbs.. and you find that 90% just want a TV to watch programmes, not the fancy stuff...

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

Sorry, but straight ("cut-throat") razors can and do last a lifetime when properly cared for (with the occasional honing etc), offering a massive TCO advantage. It's not metallurgy or cost (although you can argue about the benefits of carbon steel vs stainless steel) but convenience which is key. Cartridge razors are evidently highly valued by consumers for two reasons. Firstly, they are easier to use (and importantly have a much shallower learning curve). And secondly, they are quicker to shave with and take a lot less time/effort to take care of (no stropping, honing, etc).

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"only the paranoid use lightbulbs... the intelligent use FL bulbs or LED bulbs.. "

That's where you're wrong my friend. A small circuit, about the size of a 10 pence piece, can be included in any LED bulb to modulate the LED flicker rate with the output of a microphone. Aim a solar cell at a lit up window and hook it to your scope: guess what? You can hear everything going on in that room. Not science fiction but science fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hliHBeC1sco

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

Are the people who say 'undervolted' the same sort of people who discuss amperage

(which is, of course, what they mean)

If it is, I do wish they would stop it.

It's clumsy and oafish.

Although it does make me stop and think;

When a poster who is pro 'planned obsolescence' (which is _so_ clearly a major part of the post war manufacturing environment) gets so heinously trashed in a forum devoted to 'IT specialists'

On a similar theme, has anyone noticed how all software now has a date on it? So it automatically gets old, even if there's nothing wrong with it.

And on a completely different theme; there is, I am told, a version of autocad 2006 that has been running for 8 years, and it STILL WORKS!!!!!!11!!1!!

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Re: speed of useful end product innovation and improvement

Not quite. I think the speed of innovation is about the same as it ever was. Granted in the early stages of innovation you are making more perceptible gains per unit of innovation, so that part is correct. But it overlooks two one time events in their respective industries.

First was the Y2K scare for computers. By and large in the PC market this meant everybody had to replace their PC in 1999 even if they'd originally planned to keep it another 3 years. Second was the conversion from NTSC/PAL to HD across the world markets. Both of these events created a surge in purchasing and it was a mistake to assume it was "normal growth" or ought to constitute a new baseline from which to project growth.

To some extent, what is happening now is an artificial depression because that equipment which would have otherwise aged out naturally was replaced prematurely so there's no need to replace it again so soon. My parents tended to buy a new color tv about once every 10 to 15 years. I think most people expect their LCDs will last about as long. Heck, the only reason I wound up with a second LCD tv is I adopted too early on the LCD wave and my "HD ready" set turned out to be not so "HD ready" because it didn't have HDMI inputs (they hadn't been invented yet).

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

" but there is no material for which the tradeoff of life versus cost for a given cutting efficiency is any better."

The solution is "Don't cut, use an epilady"

FWIW the aztecs used to use tweezers to deilate their faces, so there is precedent.

Razors last much longer if you oil your skin first (it softens the hairs)

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

Traffic lamps weren't just underrun. When "off" they were actually still passing current (enough to keep them hot, but not so hot they glowed.). This reduced thermal shock and prolonged their lifespan.

At one point softstarters for incandescents were a popular project. The ones I built extended the life of the lamps by at least a factor of 5 but it's doubtful that even came close to paying for the components to do it.

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"Aim a solar cell at a lit up window and hook it to your scope: guess what?"

1: Works better with a reflected laser (that's what spooks use)

2: Doesn't work so well on clean windows (they reflect less)

3: Doesn't work very well at all on double glazing.

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Re: @ Truth4u

CFLs last for years of you point them UP!

They fail in months if you point them DOWN.

The heat generator is in the glass tube which bathes the circuitry in hot air so it dies

Its usually the wire-wrap joints that connect the tube to the circuit board that fails due to thermal expansion/contraction.

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Alien

Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

"Push it backwards for a couple of strokes against you leg."

No, no, no! You build a small pyramid to the same propotionsas the Great Pyramid with a small shelf 1/3rd up from the base right in the midlle and put your blade there overnight, every night. It will stay sharp for years. I read it on t'internet so it must be true.

Where's the tinfoil hat icon?

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Re: @ Truth4u

"halogen lights...because it has a dimmer."

Carefull with that. Halogens don't always play well with "standard" dimmers desiged with incandescents in mind. Especially if the load from the lamps is near the rated max.of the dimmer. It can get expensive, as I found out to my cost.

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"Smart" TVs

Smart TVs have an excellent implementation: it's called the iPad.

I really don't understand why people have so much trouble seeing this. Apple shipped something over 30 million new iPads last year, and most of those represent a TV that didn't get sold. Tablets are the new TV.

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Anonymous Coward

"You might think you don't consume for the sake of it, but the post-War economy is founded on the fact that you do and in fact are not given the option to do anything else."

Really? I must be flirting with disaster, then, because I drive an 8-year-old car that I bought used, haven't bought a TV in... well, ever... work supplies my cell phones, which I use until they drop. My home theater consists of a 20 year old CRT projector and audio gear scavenged from all over hell's half acre. I heat my house with a pellet stove. My oven was made in 1935.

Obviously the authorities haven't heard about me, because according to your post, I have not been given the option to do what I do.

And I know people who make me look like Donald Trump.

So really, I'm not sure what you're getting at. There's nothing forcing anyone to behave in any particular way. I haven't had to sacrifice having cool stuff. Perhaps your paranoia is miscalibrated.

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@ John Brown

Bzzt! Absolutely wrong, brimming over with wrongability.

Halogen lamps ARE incandescents.

The difference between those and "normal" GLS lamps is the gas fill, which uses the halogen cycle to deposit evaporated tungsten back onto the filament instead of staying on the glass.

- If you've ever been to the theatre, >90% of the lamps you see dimming so nicely are halogens. Bigger ones than you can get in Tesco, but still halogen.

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Re: @ John Brown

That said, most domestic wall plate dimmers effectively lie about their rating. If it says 100W, it doesn't mean it'll actually run a 100W lamp continually.

They tend to be very low duty cycle.

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"Do you not understand that the old stuff was designed to wear out?"

Not really, it's a case of market economics not suited to products that last forever, because no-on is willing to pay that much for it.

"There is a lightbulb in america that's been burning for over 100 years."

What they don't tell you, is it's entirely useless and of ornamental value only. It burns orange. To hell with colour temperature, this bulb is just plain orange. And it's dim. It's great by oil or gas lantern standards of 100 fucking years ago, but hey, since then, we've moved on.

"Then the Phoebus cartel was set up to limit bulb life to 1000 hours"

Not quite. When it comes to standard incandescent bulb technology, that life span was determined as a compromise between brightness, colour temperature and lifespan. If you bring the energy down, you can make modern incandescents last 100 years too. But no-one would buy them because they would be dim and orange and fucking useless by 2014 standards. If you don't like that, try induction lighting, with claims of 100,000 hours lifespan, and lighting similar to fluorescent lamps. Not so crappy now?

"fail from poor quality capacitors in the power supply"

I once replaced all the caps in a new derated PC power supply with high quality high temperature caps that would normally never get used in that position - to the tune of at least a couple of hundred dollars. It was hammered solidly for 10 years before I threw it out. The box that replaced it had the power supply replaced once in 10 years - for $30 bucks. Now you know how the market economy works.

"Manufacturers know this and their contribution is to make the cases hard to open"

No, you're thinking of Apple. Although, somewhat to their defence, it does make it cheaper and easier to manufacture - always a plus in that game, even if it does piss the costomer off.

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re:90% just want a tv to watch programmes

Agreed, but these days who doesn't have at least one 'set top box' (have you ever SEEN an STB on top of a tv? And how would you even start getting one to balance on top of a plasma set?) to look after the actual content delivery. Many of my friends don't even have an aerial anymore. It doesn't take much topersuade people that all they need is a decent quality flat panel and a cable to their stereo (trust me, I even persuaded my 76 year old neighbour and he's happy as larry about it.

No the TV as a discrete unit is in it's death throes. Expect legislation designed to protect those TV manufacturers who can't see the writing on the wall any day now. Maybe something along the lines of 'You know what sort of people don't own a onsole TV? Terrywrists! You wouldn't want your neighbours to think you're one of those, would you?'

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

"Next you'll be telling me that there's a good reason they use capacitors filled with cats urine instead of properly designed ones that can run twice as hot for twice as long."

Because the majority of consumers would rather pay $500 for a TV that lasts 3-5 years, instead of paying $750 for the same TV with better components lasting 8-10 years.

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Re: @ John Brown / Richard 12

One dimmer is a triac based job fitted in a standard lamp with 2x regular bulbs in the top and a capsule halogen bulb in the reading lamp. The instructions do say that halogens are fine (and I've picked ones with a reasonable rating)

The other is a nifty "plug in" dimmer for a table lamp. Its an oversized 3-pin plug with a socket on the back of it, and a trailing lead to a foot slider operated dimmer.

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Joke

Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

How to make your razor last longer. Push it backwards for a couple of strokes against you leg.

Okay but there is no need to get STROPPY about it.

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"3: Doesn't work very well at all on double glazing."

Lasers don't work on double glazing but a bugged LED bulb will send the signal through the window to the outside, I thought it was pretty easy to understand, I must be smarter than most though because no one else seems to get it!

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