Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Is there any time when it’s simple to buy a TV?

Although they’ve one of the most frequently used pieces of technology around for a long time, most people don’t buy a new TV terribly often.

However, it always seems to be close to the worst time to buy one no matter when you’re looking for one, doesn’t it? For a long time it was safe enough buying TVs: from the 1970s when colour came out in the UK it was OK to pick up a 405 line set for getting on for 20 years until the 405 line broadcasts were turned off. Even within that period it was fine for quite some time if you bought a 625 line model as they were fine well into the 1990s.

These days it’s a whole different story though. Not only have we moved from the simple 625 line broadcasts in their 4:3 aspect ratio to the more common widescreen version but we’re also getting into the digital transmission era, moving to flatscreen technology and high definition all at the same time.

Aside from the flatscreens being a whole lot lighter than their predecessors, there isn’t really a whole lot going for them right now in that the colour on the old style CRT versions is generally better and you don’t get those annoying little coloured spots that are found on flatscreen versions. Most flatscreens come with digital tuners as standard though which is something of a plus in that the analogue signals are gradually being turned off.

What about HD though? Well, that comes in two versions: the real thing and “HD ready” which means that it’s not really HD at all. Going for true HD seriously bumps up the cost though and since there aren’t really a whole lot of HD broadcasts around at the moment, it seems to make more sense to go for an HD ready TV now with a view to replacing it in four or five years time when the price of true HD will have dropped and the number of HD programmes should have gone up a lot.

Of course, by then chances are the first of the 3D TVs will be starting to drop to relatively sensible prices….

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Isn’t Christmas shopping a nightmare?

Christmas shopping is a bit of a nightmare at the best of times but try doing it in a foreign country and it’s that much harder.

For one thing, you need to consider how you’re gonna get all the stuff back home again. Ordinary holidays are bad enough and we had to buy a new case once to get it all back again so Christmas is just that much worse with both extra weight and volume if you’re shopping whilst you’re actually on holiday.

This time around we’d the added complication of needing to get a refund on our credit cards which is generally much more of a hassle when you’re abroad even aside from the double change of currency and the extra delay in getting the refund back to your account.

Fortunately, perhaps, getting secured loans is one option that you can safely forget about if you’re doing your Christmas shopping abroad, at least if you’ve not planned ahead for it.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Cultural differences in the way people book a hotel

We received an interesting e-mail from one of the European offices looking after consumer affairs last night.

They’re writing on behalf of a Spanish couple who booked with us last July but who didn’t turn up.

Ordinarly, that would mean we’d have billed them as a no-show but at the time the booking system had a technical problem so we weren’t receiving their reservation e-mails and therefore didn’t know that they were coming. Anyway, net effect was that we didn’t charge them although under the terms of the reservation system we were entitled to.

They’ve gone to this European office with their booking confirmation that has a note of the two nights booked and EUR 98 charge. Except, that it isn’t a change: it’s just a note of what they would have to pay.

The Spanish guy in the European office doesn’t understand that at all. They quoted their credit card number and they’ve a statement with EUR 98 on it, they didn’t get their accommodation (because they went to the wrong place) but he believes that they’ve paid it as do they.

Usually the Spanish are much more Internet-savvy than the French but in this area they’re just as far behind in that they assume that they’ve paid when they quote a credit card number yet it’s only used for a guarantee.

I suspect that it’ll run for a bit as he sent another e-mail this morning threatening to translate everything and sent it to the French consumer protection authorities to demand the refund of this EUR 98 which they’ve not paid.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Do you ever consider that camera technology is moving too fast?

Camera technology is moving so fast these days that it’s getting to be pretty much a lottery as to when is the best time to buy a camera.

For instance, I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that the Pentax Option S10 was the perfect camera to be my next “take it everywhere” camera. Launched in August 2007 it offers good quality 10mp images in a very small package.

However, when I did a search for some more information on it, what did I come across but that yesterday Pentax announced the launch of the S12 which is basically the same camera but with a 12mp sensor. Note that the launch has been announced but not actually happened (it’s due in March) so Pentax have delayed (and possibly lost) a sale to me.

After all, why buy the S10 now when I can get a much better camera in two months time for, probably, the same price? Sure, if I was just about to go on holiday I’d buy the S10 now, but I’m not so I’ll wait.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Where did all those old TV shows go?

In times gone by TV shows appeared, ran for a season or two and you never saw them again.

It’s different now of course. There are repeats of shows on all the time but, of course, not always of your very favourite show that you’ve not seen for years. Because of that, there’s a small number of specialised DVD sales sites that gather together recordings of the various cult or semi-cult TV shows from the past and provide them at relatively low cost considering the number of hours of programming that some shows run to.

Funnily enough, the further you go back, the longer tend to be the series runs available for shows. So, way back in 1960 One Step Beyond ran for 98 episodes and even Lost in Space runs to 83 whereas Dark Skies only got to 20.

What you’ll not see on these places usually are the mainstream shows as the production companies put out the official DVDs of these themselves. The semi-cult shows that you see from these places are those that just don’t have the following that the production company would need to make it worthwhile rolling out a DVD release.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.