dctrud's Random Road

Occasional unimportant nonsense.

2020-09-20 Mass Produced Quality in the 21st Century

For only slightly longer than things have been mass produced people have been saying that "they were better in my day". There has probably always been some truth in this as companies have worked to make more profit of each item that they sell.

I've seen a couple of posts online in various places lately stating that it's harder to get good quality x, y, z now, and the last good stuff died out after the 80s. Again, there's probably a lot of truth in that, but what about a more positive look at things?

What *mass produced* stuff do you have that was made since 2000, and is far better or longer-lasting than it deserves to be?

Lasco Box Fan

A cheap $14 box fan from the DIY store. It has 3 speeds and it blows plenty of air. It's 10 years old now, used every day on our porch in the summer. Despite seeming to be mostly plastic it has just enough metal where it counts - the outer frame and two vertical stays holding the motor inside.

Having had several $20+ desk fans in my life which barely last the year before they develop annoying squeaks or alarming wobbles, this thing is a lovely surprise. Maybe I'm odd that it makes me happy that our $14 box fan has just worked perfectly for ten years :-)

Troy Bilt / Honda Engine Mower

When we first moved to the US we bought a house with quite a bit of grass, and needed a mower. We bought what I think was the 3rd least expensive mower from Home Depot. It's just a basic push mower with a Honda GCV160 engine that has grass collection. It's not self propelled or anything fancy and It cost $229 at the time.

After 10 years of use, at least once a week most weeks of the year (since grass doesn't sleep long in Texas), it still starts first pull and gives a nice cut in even long damp grass. I've changed the oil, spark plug, filter as suggested. I've also replaced a couple of minor components but nothing big. If something does go wrong you can get *any* part easily, and there are endless tutorials on the web r.e. how to fix things.

Let's say I've mowed roughly 40 times a year, for 10 years - that's just 57c per cut for the original purchase cost of the mower, and it's still going.

Second-hand ThinkPad T430

There's definitely no shortage of ThinkPad praise around the internet, so this once isn't a surprise...

We have a ThinkPad T430 that was bought used from a municipal recycler about 9 months ago, for $90. It was originally manufactured in 2012 so it's 8 years old. Amazingly after 8 years you can still buy a genuine OEM battery for it from Lenovo. With one of those it's now my wife's laptop, and is used a lot every day. It happily does absolutely everything she wants to do on a computer, and we both also regularly use it to play Minecraft with our son.

It's not running a lightweight Linux distribution, or minimal application software - it has current Windows 10 on it. It's really pretty amazing that you can buy an 8yr old laptop for $90 (plus battery) that really is still genuninely useful, and far more comfortable and sturdy than any of the new basic models in the low to mid $100s.

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