I’ve been reviewing gadgets, electronics, games, and geeky products in general for GeekDad since May of 2007. Looking back through it all, that’s a lot of stuff. And the plan is to keep going. But one of the things I’m often asked by people is how products hold up after the initial testing. I can’t always answer that, at least not from personal experience. But some of the things I review I end up buying, in which case I do have something to say about their long term prospects. Even though products — and especially electronics — become outdated at a dizzying pace these days, there’s also a thriving market for previous generation versions at discount stores and used gear through e-Bay and other sites. I have an office full of new stuff to review, but I thought I’d take a break for today and provide an update on a selection of past reviews to see what’s stood the test of time and what turned out to be a disappointment.
First reviewed in March, 2010. I was a big fan of these protective, peel-off stickers and I still am. In fact, I’ve purchased a half dozen additional Gelaskins since the initial review. They’re a great way to dress up tired looking gadgets, they add a punch of color or geek appeal to anything from a laptop to a plastic Rock Band guitar and the company keeps on top of offerings for new devices. I still have the originals from 2010 and, two years later, they’ve saved many a scratch without fading or peeling off.
Another 2010 review, I was impressed with the Zeppelin iPod dock in a big way. I bought the review model and it’s been my primary speaker dock ever since, seeing hours of use every day. It developed an issue with not recognizing an iPhone 4 on occasion, but B&W took it back for repair under warranty and it’s been fine ever since. While the newest Zeppelin Air (which I tested just before Christmas last year) was a nice upgrade, I stuck with the original. A new Zeppelin Air has dropped to $549 from the original’s $599, but if you can find a gently used original for a few hundred bucks and can live without streaming, the sound is still fantastic.
Back in 2009 I added a third AppleTV to our home media network. I still really like these devices, despite their sometimes maddening tendency to drop off the network. While the current generation version is much more compact and way cheaper (I think I paid $350 for the first one I picked up), as a parent, I prefer the first generation device because of the built-in hard drive. I can load up the AppleTV in the rec room with kid appropriate programming and be done with it — no fiddling with parental filters, no worries about streaming, and the device can easily be picked up and schlepped to a friend’s house (or a cottage) for content and hooked up to their TV for 160 GB of video on the go. After up to four years of constant use, all three first generation AppleTVs remain fully functional.
Samsung VCRR8830T1R Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
I was really happy with this purchase during initial testing and it held up pretty well for its first year. I work from home and having it zooming around underfoot was part of my morning entertainment. Unfortunately, after the year was up and the warranty expired, the red robot started having problems. It still went about its thing, but had no suction. The vacuum had been kept clean and the filter was washed on a regular basis, but it degenerated to the point of uselessness. I replaced the HEPA filter altogether, but no dice. So I took it apart (at least to the component level), but there were no obstructions to be found and no obvious fault. So it currently sits in a heap and my wife has forbidden me from buying any more robots for household chores. I’ll take it apart completely when I have the time and hopefully resuscitate it and if that doesn’t work, I may just give in and take it to a repair shop. Normally I’d write it off as a bad purchase, but it was $450. And it’s a robot. Or maybe I’ll drive it over to Roy’s place — even if he can’t figure it out, I’ll bet he can MacGyver it into something cool.