Is it even worth repairing consumer goods nowadays?

30 years ago… Yes. Now not so much. Take for example a repair of a Panasonic DMR-BWT720 blu-ray recorder which I was handed for free as it had failed and had been replaced with a newer model. The fault – freezes / runs slow and fails to record sometimes. If it does record the image breaks up. Simple – it’s just bad reception right? No.

To cut a long story short I noticed a lot of noise coming from the HDD mainly repeated ticking sounds. Now with me being an IT professional I knew this sounded like a failing HDD and I know what a knackered HDD sounds like. I whipped the top cover off and removed the HDD and ran some read only tests on it. The drive failed with ‘too many bad sectors encountered’ error as suspected.

Well, I’ve replaced hard drives in Humax set top boxes before. You just replace the HDD and power the machine up, it asks to format the HDD and away you go. No so lucky with the Panasonic. After a very short boot up I was greeted with a ‘HDD NG’ error on the front panel. Oh well, maybe it just needs formatting. Nope. Can’t get into any of the menus.

A few google searches later it appears Panasonic store the machine’s operating system (embedded linux) on the hard drive rather than flash. And it’s encrypted to boot. In other words I now have a very expensive doorstop. I found some instructions on how to do a disk to disk clone using linux’s DD command but this failed due to the original drive having too many bad blocks. Back to Panasonic who do not sell parts to end users so this would have to be sent to a dealer for repair at a cost of around £200.

It seems even the most expensive goods are non serviceable now and the big name manufacturers go out of their way to ensure their products cannot be repaired outside of an authorised repair centre. Stick to the cheaper brands like Humax – never let me down and can be repaired if they do.

It’s the same with laptops and PC’s. Windows 10 ugh. Replace that faulty motherboard and you have to buy a new copy of Windows to go with it. You could speak to Microsoft (useless) and ask them to transfer the product key but this usually does not work. Most laptops have software to change the model number and serial number after mobo replacement but again this is only available to authorised dealers.

Another rant over with. Next.