Thursday, January 26, 2006

Battle of the brands

It all started when I decided to buy an external DVD writer. There were two types of issues, which would’ve left any common user confused and irritated.

What looked like a simple spend “3000 on a writer and a thousand on a USB casing” affair lasted for a week, set me pondering, wondering, frustrated, and irritated.

The first decision I had to make was to choose between Samsung, LG, Sony and HP DVD writers. All cost somewhere between 2900 and 3100 Rs in the Indian market. I really haven’t had this problem of so many strong brands in the same price range till date. It would usually be three brands, one costly, one cheap, one very popular etc, and the decision would’ve been simple. Now it looked tough. More so since the likes of Sony, with their falling brand name, are competing on the basis of same price. Sony had always been selling at a premium range, far costlier than other brands, competing on the basis of brand value alone. But, with serious Korean competition around, it had been one of the biggest brand-value losers, at a time when Samsung has been the biggest brand value gainer. Samsung’s brand value had gained 186%, the highest among top-100 brands. It’s now among the top-20 global brands, ahead of Sony, all in a record time. India story has been different though. Of the two, it’s LG who’s the winner in Indian soil.

Net-net, I had a serious decision to make. All were popular brands, with more or less the same specifications.

The decision

I heard from the dealer that HP had poor supply and service. It was the first to be out. Based on feedback from my friends, I planned to choose one of Samsung or Sony, but technical reviews on the web were inclined towards Sony. The decision was made. It was Sony in the end. Again, this decision was based on technical reviews; something common users would not have resorted to. Relying on the dealer would be a bad idea since he would push the item with the largest margin.

Why computing is still technical

Since I use a laptop, and the additional DVD writer had to external, I had to purchase a USB adapter casing. In simple terms, it’s just a holder for the DVD writer, with an independent power supply, making it a stand alone unit. Right from the word ‘go’, I had compatibility issues. The writer just refused to write DVDs at any speed. It’s been three days of changing drives and calling the dealer, but the problem has still not been resolved. Wonder what I would’ve done if I were a non-techie. With all the jargon and technicalities around, and with the dealer himself not being sure of the problems, I would’ve been terribly lost. These are some times when I appreciate the likes of Windows for making the world simple, unlike Linux when the amount of jargon alone would suffice to keep off common users.

By the way, I still haven’t resolved the problem, but I’m hopeful.


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