Mon, 19 Apr 2010

Edgeless // at 14:00

Another wonderful example of built-in obsolescence. My current GPS, a Garmin Edge 705 bought in January 2009 stopped working last Friday. As with most consumer electronics, it came with a 12 month warranty. As with a suspiciously large number of consumer electronics, it failed shortly after the warranty had expired.

  Product name: Edge® 705
  Registration date: Jan 20, 2009
  Serial number: 192078322
  Unit Id: 3510640141

The power switch had been getting more and more indeterminate over the last few months — but never enough to make me realise and send it off to Garmin for repair while it still had a warranty. Then on Friday it wouldn't turn on and it was obvious from the lack of resistance that the switch had vanished from under the rubber waterproof cap. I've read a few reports of the switches in the Edge 305s and 705s being prone to failure and it seems mine decided to join them. Pretty bloody annoying that I have a couple of almost ten year old $30 bike computers that still work, but a $600 GPS is built to fall apart in twelve months as soon as the warranty runs out.

Over the weekend I discovered a strange workaround that would let me continue to use the Edge; plugging in to the USB charger would turn it on, then disconnecting from the charger left it on so I could take it outside and use it. Plugging it in to the USB cable on the laptop also turning it on if it was off, or had no effect if it was already on, however, unplugging it from the laptop made it turn itself off!

Lunchtime today saw me hunting madly around for a sufficiently tiny torx driver, after ransacking all the repair kits we could find we ended using a tiny flat-blade jewellers screwdriver that fit perfectly.

Once the screws were undone and the back removed problem became obvious: Garmin Edge 705 with broken power switch - seems to be a common problem

The on/off switch and the four other switches are all mounted directly onto the circuit board, the solder connections also provide the physical strength to hold them on. Switching it on and off by pressing on the button results in the switch being ripped off the circuit board — hardly a robust design, but probably a nice little earner for Garmin, who charge $US110 to repair (i.e. replace) out-of-warranty units in the states, or $AU186 here in Australia.

After twenty minutes on the phone on hold Garmin technical support told me to parcel it all up, quote the repair number they gave me, post it off to their repair shop in Sydney and they would then examine it and ring me back to let me know if it was to be repaired under the recently-expired warranty or if it would cost $186. No guarantees one way or the other. Garmin Edge 705 power switch broken off the PCB under normal use

A couple of phone calls found me a friend of a friend with adequate surface-mount soldering skills, and half an hour later he'd soldered the switch back on the board and the Edge is back in operation.

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Tue, 16 Mar 2010

Canon E18 error strikes again // at 20:00

Went to turn on the IXUS 700 this evening to take a picture of Cam running around building towers in the kitchen and there was that horrible grinding noise from the plastic gears in the lens, three or four high pitched beeps and the dreaded message on the screen “E18”.

Bugger.

That'd be the error that seems to plague the IXUS cameras. The error that Canon refuses to acknowledge. The error the the Australian staff “had never heard of”. The error that my first IXUS700 thankfully got while under warranty and was replaced. The error that almost seems to inspire thoughts of products “not of merchantable quality” and “defective design.”

I guess I've had a reasonable run out of the camera, but I see no reason why I should have to spend big money because the bloody thing broke due to a fault that Canon built into them.

A bit of hunting around shows that the first one lasted from 2005-Jun-09 to 2006-Jan-03 — just on six months — then expired. The replacement took over two months to turn up, but I've been using it from 2006-Mar-06 up until last weekend — somewhere just over 4000 photos, it claims to be up to 4318, but has done some odd jumps when I've moved the memory card from a video camera back to the IXUS700.

Tomorrow I find out how much they want to repair an almost perfectly good camera that for four years has done almost everything I want. Sure, I'd prefer better macros and a better zoom, but anything else and I'd be giving up the convenience factor and the pocketability of the IXUS.

Refs:

Updates

2010-Apr-07: Only three calendar weeks and I've got my camera back — a big improvement on my previous experience of Canon service. Newly repaired and hopefully good for another four years' use!
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Wed, 17 Jun 2009

HDTV DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A alphabet soup // at 20:30

Being part of a household that watches approximately an hour of television a week, at most, I've mostly ignored all the shiny new Australian digital TV channels showing the same old crud with the same overbearing ads and deliberate schedule slippage to render any recordings unusable. In the words of the TV executive, “We're not in the business of letting people not watch ads.”

All of a sudden a deadline emerged, mid-July, the Tour de France, this year SBS will be broadcasting their coverage on SBS2 — their digital channel. Much head-scratching occurred, reviews were perused, some catalogues were read. What do we want? We've got a wide-screen TV, albeit CRT, but the venerable TEAC still does the job. A digital receiver, yes. A hard-disk recorder, yes. Access on the home network? Backup copies of our other data? Photo store?

The LaCie cinema looked attractive, certainly physically attractive, but very expensive and reviews tend to indicate that they've got noisy fans. Back to the studying of the literature….

DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A, what a mouthful of letters and numbers, but the specs looked OK, the reviews sound good, the price seemed reasonable. Thank you Mr Rudd, I'll be spending that stimulus of yours, yet more money flowing from Australia to Asia, Korea this time, http://www.tvix.co.kr/ to be exact. EYO technologies in Sydney helped lighten my wallet, no less than three progress emails to tell me the steps my order was taking along the way and then 24 hours later the box is at the door.

First impressions? as always; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Neither good, bad nor ugly, but to quote the immortal words — as the actress said to the bishop — “Its a lot smaller than I expected.” It looked physically bigger in the images and I lazily didn't measure out the dimensions that it said on the brochure.

Neither the hard disk nor the HD tuner was installed in the main unit, but installation is dead simple and they slot together without screws or any other fasteners. So far so good….

The HDTV receiver was trivially easy to setup, the display rock-solid and far better than our analogue TV reception — and the antenna cable it is plugged into simply vanishes into the wall and I've no idea what on the roof it is attached to, or where the antenna points.

Manuals? As with most consumer electronics now you don't get one, just a CD and you're on your own to go and print the 68 pages yourself.

Now for the ugly, the on-screen display is woeful on our TV screen. I almost gave myself a headache navigating through the menus and setting the system up. Not sure if it just simply isn't designed to work with an analogue TV — but if that's the case then don't sell it as something that is! The on-screen display of the TV itself is fine, as is the menus from the DVD/VCR and the old X-box, but with the 6500A you'd better have the manual in front of you to help guess what the words and numbers are.

The bad? Wifi support only with a third-party USB dongle plugged in the back — a dongle I haven't got yet — and I couldn't get the wired network to work. Connects easily enough as an external USB drive which let me transfer all this year's photos, all my old scanned APS photos, and a handful of DivX videos for testing. The JPEG software simply cannot handle two-thirds of my photos, I've no idea if they're too big, or if the EXIF and/or IPTC headers confuse it, but the majority of my photos simply display a black screen, timeout and move on to the next photo that simply displays a black screen. No problems viewing them on websites or under Windows, Mac OS or Linux, just on a media player that can't display media….

To finish, I suspect that the user interface to setting up scheduled daily recordings is going to be difficult. Appears to be more of a media player with TV and recorder functionality tacked on over the top, and I'm starting to have my doubts….

Revisited:

2009-Jul-05: Watching the first recording of the prologue of Le Tour, all is well until we get to the first ad break. Press the fast-forward, 2x — then again — 4x, 8x... wait for the ad to pass, press Pause/Play and it jumps back to before the ad-break we've just fast-forwarded through! What the? Try again, this time the pause button won't work until we're well into the next part of the coverage, but once again play sends us back to before the ad-break!

Trying other button combinations, the "Up" and "Down" arrows are meant to jump 15 seconds forwards and backwards, they show a graphic on the screen saying that this is what they're doing, but they both jump about 5 minutes backwards through the coverage!

The manual(s) are of absolutely no help, pathetic Engrish, and the only mention of the functions of the remote is "navigation buttons" with no indication of how to use them or what each button does.

Come on, this software isn't even beta-test software, it DOES NOT WORK, this is not a commercially viable product!

Summary: As a consumer product the DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A is unusable crap.

2009-Jul-06: Ok, I've updated the firmware to 1.3.137 and things are a little bit better — but only a little. Instead of being totally unusable it is now only mostly irritating. Fast-forward now seems to go 2x, 8x, 32x and exiting from fast-forward to play usually goes to where it should — although it still sometimes leaps backwards five, ten or fifteen minutes! The up and down arrows still show the jump forwards/jump backwards graphics and this time they sometimes do what they say, although most of the time the forward button does nothing and the backwards one goes back more than the ten or fifteen seconds it says.

Summary: As a consumer product the DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A is half-usable crap.

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Thu, 21 Feb 2008

Entropy eaten Edge // at 13:00

I'd love to believe that Garmin's Edge 305 is a great piece of equipment, but unfortunately my experiences with the device — two so far — have left me unconvinced.

From day one it has been subject to battery draining hangs if you don't switch it off and disconnect it from the PC in precisely the right order, and even then sometimes it'll just hang. You get into the habit of switching off, unplugging, then switching it back on briefly just to check. A number of firmware updates haven't cured the problem, perhaps lessening the frequency though. Its the only USB device I've ever heard of that has this problem.

Another design flaw seems to be a loose mounting bracket and a mount almost at one end — it always seemed wobbly and eventually my first one fell out when I hit a bump and smashed the display. Just under ten months life for that one.

Four weeks later I received a replacement, still subject to the software hangs.

Nearly ten months into the life of the second unit, in early December 2007, and I noticed that one of the buttons didn't work anymore, but I don't tend to use the up/down arrows so I've no idea how long that was the case, then a few weeks later it started to randomly turn itself off if I hit a bump in the road. I resisted sending it back to GME until after the Alpine Classic in late January, then today posted it off for repair or replacement.

Now the wait, hopefully not another four weeks, until I get it back. A dodgy product or just bad luck and two bad items?

Updated: Ah damn, I guess I should have read all the data off it before I shipped it off, I think it unlikely that they'll send it back with the memory still full, especially if it gets replaced. Oh no, I've lost all records of my commutes since Feb. 8!

Thread: last next

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Tue, 28 Mar 2006

New toy redux // at 00:00

Yesterday's suspicions confirmed — at least partially. Browsing through the user forums for the Garmin Edge shows that quite a few people have managed to either permanently or temporarily kill their devices. Also found useful things such as how to perform a hard or soft reset — information that seems to be missing from the manual. In fact the manual contains no fault-finding information of any kind!

Thread: last next

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Mon, 27 Mar 2006

New toy // at 00:00

After that I found I couldn't switch it on at all, and plugging it in to the laptop results in a Windows message telling me that the device is faulty and needs to be either unplugged and plugged back in, or replaced.

Later in the evening I could switch it on, but it promptly turned itself off again. Dead flat battery? I fully charged it Friday afternoon and it was only on for twenty minutes or so! Annoyingly, I'd left the charger at work so I couldn't investigate further.

Today I plugged the Edge into the charger at 9am and left it on until it said fully charged, noon, three hours later! No idea how it can have completely flattened the battery on Saturday, although I have my suspicions that a software bug killed it when it was disconnected from the USB cable.

Photos

Thread: last next

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Mon, 06 Mar 2006

The IXUS700 returns! // at 00:00

After two months and three days of being off with Canon Australia's repair facilities I've finally got my faulty camera repaired and sent back — well actually I've got a brand new replacement one. I think another two weeks went by after the last two weeks after the two weeks previously, the parts still hadn't turned up, Canon still hadn't repaired it, and the embarrasment factor got so bad that they just sent me a new one!

So do I now have twelve months warranty on the new one, or do I only get the remaining six months from the first one transferred across to it? Who knows, hopefully it will never suffer the dreaded E18 error that so many of them see to be afflicted by.

Accounts

OK, now here's a scary experiment:

Find me on MySpace and be my friend!

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Thu, 16 Feb 2006

Canon still has my camera // at 00:00

Six weeks and counting.... The six month old camera has now been six weeks at Canon Australia with the dreaded "E18" error, an error that Canon Australia claimed they have never heard of.

Its now two weeks since the "parts should be here in two weeks" statement so I called them up again.

Quotes from today's phone call:

"No, the parts haven't arrived yet and we have no known ETA for the parts."

I stated that I found it slightly ridiculous that they kept no parts for cameras that they service, having to then order these from Japan for repairs.

When I asked them to tell me when the parts had actually been ordered, they couldn't say, "probably the 17th of January". I think she then read the saga on the job card, because rather than the normal offer to take my number and call me back, I was asked to hold while she went next door to find out.

"We have to order parts in bulk, they were ordered on the 16th of January but it takes a long time to come here from Japan and through the docks."

"Try again in two weeks or so, about the end of February."

I pointed out that I'd been told two weeks two weeks ago, and that at the end of February I was going on a holiday — a holiday I had hoped to take my camera on. I guess I just wait another two week, that'll make two months!

The best part of all of this? Knowing full well that although they may take two months to repair my camera and eventually get it back to me, judging by all the other reports I've read of the dreaded E18 error on all the mini IXUS-like models, there's absolutely nothing to stop the camera failing again a week after I get it back, or worse, failing a week after the 12 month guarantee runs out. Canon, my APS IXUS was fine, my IXUS300 was fine, but this whole business of spending $700 for an IXUS700 camera with a built-in fault sucks!

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Thu, 02 Feb 2006

Canon, take 3 and a half // at 00:00

Amazingly, after yesterday's promise Canon have called me back in only a day and a half. That's the good news.... The bad news is that they're waiting on a part and the parts have to come from Japan. Apparently Japan is a long way away from Australia and parts from Japan travel very very slowly. They expect that the parts will be in Australia in another two to three weeks, but they will mark on the job sheet that it is urgent, so I should manage to get my camera back in around two months total! They'll extend the warranty for the time it's been in for repairs too — very generous — but I think they're legally required to do that anyway.

Six months use of the IXUS700 then two months repairs. Hooray for Canon!

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Wed, 01 Feb 2006

Canon, take 3 // at 00:00

Its been four weeks now, and two since my last call, it must be time for another call to Canon. I'd really like to get my IXUS 700 back before I go away on holiday at the end of the month! 13 13 83, 3, 1, “All our operators are busy, please stand by....” A long wait since I've foolishly called up at lunch time, then a friendly, helpful Canon person on the phone. She's friendly and helpful, but “I've got no idea why it isn't repaired yet. Someone will call you within three working days.”

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Wed, 18 Jan 2006

Calling Canon.... // at 00:00

“Seven to ten days,” is the quote when I drop the camera off at the service centre, “you'll hear from us by then.” Well, its two weeks now and not a word so back into voicemail land I go. 13 13 83, 3, 1, “All our operators are busy, please stand by....” At last a human, some questions, here's my repair number and I'm assured that the camera has been received — on the 12th — apparently it took nine days for the camera to get from Melbourne to Sydney! I could have carried it up there on my bicycle in that time!

“We're waiting on parts, this is our busiest time of the year, it should be two to three weeks, give us a call sometime next week.” Two to three weeks, plus the two weeks already, maybe a month or a month and a half of the one year warrantee for one repair!

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Tue, 03 Jan 2006

Canon Woes // at 00:00

First page via Google when asking about the E18 error from my less than six month old Canon IXUS 700. Courtesy of www.ixus-world.de:

The E18 error message is the worst that can happen to an owner of the Canon IXUS. By manky mechanics the camera cannot drive their lens out any longer and displays the error "E18" in the lcd display. If the warranty of the camera has ran out it's not worthwhile to repair it by Canon in most cases. With a little luck you can repair the damage by yourself..

Oh yay!

Then what a coincidence — drive over to the Canon service centre at lunch time to drop my camera off and there's one guy waiting at the counter ahead of me. Surprise, surprise, he's dropping off an IXUS750 with exactly the same problem. Of course the service desk staff claim that they've never seen it before on any camera....

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