After Hours

Consumer Reports helps you decide to repair or replace that broken gadget

The Consumer Reports Electronics Buying Guide (Winter 2010) helps you decide whether to repair or replace a broken computer, camera, or TV.

Consumer Reports Electronics Buying Guide (Winter 2010)As the cost of electronics drops and the speed of change accelerates, many see a broken device as a chance to upgrade. Why replace the screen on my old iPod? I've been wanting a new iPod Touch anyway. But, is replacing always a smart move? Should you buy a new LCD television or fix that four-year-old Plasma set?

Well, the folks over at Consumer Reports have come up with the a tool to help you make those repair vs. replace decisions. The Consumer Reports Electronics Buying Guide (Winter 2010) contains a Repair-or-replace chart, which looks at digital cameras, televisions, and computers.

I asked Consumer Reports electronics editor, Paul Reynolds when they recommend replacing versus repairing a computer. Reynolds responded:

"Generally, you'll probably want to repair a computer that's no more than two years old, provided it's still meeting your needs, of course, and that the repair cost is no more than about half of what a replacement might cost. For three or four year old computers you might consider a repair, with the same caveats. We don't recommend repairing computers that are more than five years old."

Consumer Reports Electronics Buying Guide (Winter 2010)

I was also curious about how Consumer Reports developed its recommendations? Reynolds responded:

"Our advice is based on the experiences of thousands of readers with repairs to products that broke out of warranty and were professionally repaired. We considered the typical repair and replacement costs of readers and our expert judgment about how quickly the product category is changing or improving technologically. So it's shorter for computers because the technology changes so quickly. In some categories, even if a repair is relatively inexpensive you may not want to make it because a new model will be significantly better in performance or capabilities than the one you are replacing."

If your curious about Consumer Reports for the digital cameras and televisions, you'll find them in the Consumer Reports Electronics Buying Guide (Winter 2010).

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

11 comments
rroberto18
rroberto18

BEST ONLINE ANALOGY: a pop-up ad for a 'free' anti-virus scan that actually installs malware on your hard-drive..... DO NOT fall for ANY 'free trial offer' from this FORMERLY pro-consumer publication. Since going online, CR.org now uses all the come-on tactics they used to warn readers against in their print pages. If you 'try' a service, you must provide them with your credit card info. Then your card is charged immediately, before the trial period ends... and ANNUALLY after that. No bill-me-later or pay-by-check option even for their own print edition. Their website doesn't offer a 'Contact Us' link -- because once they have your CC info, there is only one-way contact ...from your credit card to their bank account. CR.org is a 'consumer group' that takes names but no questions. No number of emails or online comments will get you even one direct response, let alone credit you back for something you wish to cancel or no longer want to renew. The only way to keep CR.org from annually charging you for anything you've tried 'free for 30 days'is to stoop to their level and close your own credit card account. Even then they'll bombard you with emails demanding you 'update your credit information' via a 'handy link.' Clicking 'Reply' bounces all complaints right back to you. This is pro-consumer? CR.org has morphed into one of the biggest rip-offs on the net. They have betrayed their own reason for existence. SUMMARY. Turning your credit card info over to CR.org is like giving your physical card to a stranger who 'promises' to mail it back to you after 'just holding it for awhile.'

bjmyers17
bjmyers17

"We don't recommend replacing computers that are more than five years old." That's got to be a typo. If you're computer's more than five years old, you should definitely be replacing it, not repairing it.

jsarra
jsarra

I have subscribed to the magazine for over 10 years and when the website came out, I thought it was going to be a great adjunct to my subscription. WRONG!! They expect you to pay for the same content twice. Shame on Tech Republic for providing a free advertisement for this scam.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Paul Reynolds originally responded to my question with the following: "We don't recommend replacing computers that are more than five years old." I contacted him today for clarification, and he responded that he meant "repairing" instead of "replacing" in the above sentence. I updated the article.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Excellent Linux test bed for those of us who want to learn.

PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

we've repaired my poor old amd 850 a few times (it's 8 1/2 yrs old), it's running xp pro w/756 ram without too much difficulty...

santeewelding
santeewelding

Plans are afoot for having you taken out back and shot for this oversight.

PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

grant you, they growl a little because the poor old thing is kinda slow, but hey, it works ;) ...we both have new machines that we bought shortly after school started in the fall; both run win7 64 bit w/ intel core 2 quad 2.33 GHz and 8 gig ram....but i do admit to having the mantality of if it still works, why throw it out?

santeewelding
santeewelding

Which I like. I don't even like throwing out Bic mechanical pencils, the erasure worn to nothing, but plenty of lead left. (sigh) But I have learned to do so. I have also learned how to toss a 15-inch LCD into the dumpster that cost me more than $600 cash, and replace it four years later with a 17-inch for less than $200. (sigh) Printers, too. I'm waiting for the day when, given rocks and sticks to work with, we need to produce a stick of RAM.

PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

we're aweful...i think there's an old crt monitor still out in the shed that we just can't seem to throw away (if Darryl hasn't thrown it out that is)...and there's a big ole plastic bin around here somewhere with all kinds of pc parts in it: vid cards, modems, etc...we did manage to actually part with our old VCRs though not long ago...lol...we're getting better ;)

pdr5407
pdr5407

It depends on the type of machine: if over five years and it cost over $1,500, or it is a server with 2 Xeon processors then repair it, but less expensive, and lower specs than replace it.

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