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Old July 22nd 03, 11:12 PM
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Default Zenith TV problems

"Jeff Strieble" wrote in message
I was reading some of the threads regarding problems with Zenith
televisions a little while ago, and it got me to thinking. I have a
1995 Zenith SM1917SG, which I keep as a backup for my RCA (Thomson)
F19261 in my living room. The Zenith does not work well anymore (tuner
problems, I think), but it is good enough to use (with a cable box)
until I can get a new set if and when the RCA eventually goes bad.
However, after reading the comments in this group regarding service
and other problems associated with Zenith TVs, especially since the
company was absorbed by LG Electronics (!) a few years ago, I am
having second and even third thoughts about getting another Zenith or
even another RCA if either of my sets goes bad. I have had the RCA
repaired twice in the last three years for the same problem (RF port
snapping off the tuner PC board); my warranty did not cover the
repairs, so I had to pay some $120 out of my own pocket to have the
set repaired. The set works well now on cable, but I would think
twice about having it fixed again. In fact, the technician even told
me not to bother having the TV repaired again if anything else goes
wrong; after three years it wouldn't be worth it, considering it is
now out of warranty by a year or so (I purchased an extended warranty
shortly after purchasing the TV itself).

Needless to say, I am very disappointed with Zenith (and RCA) TVs.
It used to be Zenith was a very well-respected name in television,
radio, high fidelity and even hearing aids (the company was known as
"the royalty of radio and television" for many years, and made many
very good three-way entertainment-center consoles); however, these
days, since LG bought the company, the quality has gone downhill in a
hurry. I doubt if I could even get my own Zenith (mentioned above)
repaired anymore. When I read that parts are often NLA for sets made
as recently as six years ago (!!!) and that the sets often go bad
within a short period of time (a friend of mine told me his parents
bought an RCA in which the picture tube failed after only two years),
it made me stop and think--again. My Zenith was manufactured in 1995.
The chances are horribly good, I'm afraid, that if this set were to
quit on me, I couldn't get it repaired, or if I could, I'd be waiting
weeks or months while the shop waited for the replacement parts (if
they were available). Hardly seems worth it to me.

What on earth has happened to Zenith and RCA over the last few
years? These companies used to be known for quality in their TVs and
other home-entertainment equipment; in fact, RCA pioneered
all-electronic compatible color TV in the 1950s, and Zenith proudly
proclaimed for years that "the quality goes in before the name goes
on." Remember those well-made hand-wired Zenith sets of the 1950s and
'60s, with beautifully designed console cabinets that looked like (and
were) fine furniture? Many of these sets went for years or decades
without major service problems; in fact, the older Zeniths are sought
after by collectors today (look at in their
antique-television forum for examples).

Unfortunately, however, we will never see the likes of hand-wired
TVs again. Zenith switched to circuit modules in its sets in the
1970s, as did RCA (the latter began using modules in its original
XL-100 sets, which were introduced, if I remember correctly, in the
early seventies--and Motorola was using modular circuits in its "works
in a drawer" sets as early as 1967).

Zenith and RCA, in my opinion (please, no flames), seem to have
forgotten the meaning of the word "quality." When these companies were
bought out by foreign interests, quality went out the window, for the
most part. These sets also were built to become obsolete within a very
short period of time--witness the fact that parts become NLA within a
period of only two or three years. I think today's RCAs and Zeniths
are made this way on purpose--so that retail stores and outlets such
as Best Buy and Circuit City can sell more of them, like everything
else these days. We may not like it, but the fact of the matter is
that planned obsolescence is a fact of life in the 21st century; it is
what keeps the stores in business.

I have been a tech for over 35 years, and I could not of said any of this
better myself. I agree with your observations of the situation. I think
cheap inports had a lot to do with the decline of quality built products.
Greed is also another prime factor.

There is no way anybody is going to make me beleive that when these sets are
designed, that they do not know how long these sets are going to last, when
the caps are still of the same **** poor quality, heatsinks are too small
to dissipate heat from power devices, and power resistors that are over
heating under normal operation, and mounted close enough to the pc board, to
char the hell out of it. These are not mistakes or cheap design flaws, not
after they have been doing it this many years now, this is on purpose.

I, like you, miss the days of higher quality. Todays tvs have advanced
greatly in terms of technology, but quality and longevity are of little

The new HDTV widescreen TVs that are rolling out of the factorys and into
the stores, are a vivid sign of how poor quailty and craftsmanship is
anymore. Most of these sets come out of the box so poorly aligned, that
people are paying large sums of money to have calibrators come to their
house and adjust their set - ON A NEW TV!!! Did you ever in your wildest
dreams, figure you would ever see anything like this?

I have a new HDTV widescreen TV, and what an experience, even for a tech.
Within one week, I had three TVs delivered because the first two RCAs had
serious flaws and problems. Finally, after deciding on a new model JVC 56"
widescreen, did I get a set that was properly aligned and without major
flaws. After seeing how badly most RPTVs are aligned from the factory, I
thank my lucky stars that I received one that is very well aligned.

So, that's my take on the situation, pretty much the same as yours. What you
said in the end, is very true - planned obsolescence is now a fact of life