Features > Tech > Is Digital Gear Reliable?

Is Digital Gear Reliable?

I am wondering more and more lately: Is digital gear reliable? I love technology but I've become skeptical of just about everything with little LCD screens. I've had a couple of inket printers now where the display fades to a couple of bars, dots and then nothing. It prints but I don't know what it's telling me or what ink it wants.


I see digital compasses and I can feel a tremor in my bones when I think about your life depending on it in a snowstorm or in hundred degree desert heat when it fails on you. Sure, they look cool and you can easily spend nearly a hundred dollars on the latest ones. But I think I'd rather have one from an antique sale for my own survival.

I have gone through a couple of digital thermometers for my current RV, which is only two years old, where the displays stops working or doesn't work in extreme temperatures. And that is when you need it the most. It looks like I need an old fashioned one again.


My parents have had the same old weigh scale since before I was born. It works. So when I went to buy a scale recently, I had to look long and hard to find one that didn't have an LCD readout. There were usually a half dozen electronic versions and an empty space for the one analog one that they carried. But I found one. I figured I may as well just buy one for the life of my family instead of replacing it every coupe of years.

I have an old air gauge for my tires that goes back at least twenty years now. Last year I got a neat little digital one. It's compact and it let me read my air pressure in several different measures. When it worked. When the temperature dropped to around freezing or below, it didn't work. And now at about one year of use it doesn't work at all.

I have a wind up stop watch I've had since I was kid. It's probably around forty years old. My cool digital one that I got last year? The display fades and I can't use it now.


I had an alarm clock radio when I was a kid. It had a manual radio dial with a bright read clock display. It lasted me through the late 1970s and 1980s until only certain numbers showed. I got tired of guessing what time it was so I had to dump it. It had a good run. My last two digital clocks have lasted about two years each.

I have seen a couple stories lately where people went hiking use their cell phones for light instead of carrying a flashlight. In my experience with cell phone battery time, this is not the best tactic. Get an led flashlight that lasts practically forever on a battery.

If I could find the bicycle I had when I was a kid, I bet the old speedometer and mileage gauge is still winding up. It still has all those miles on it that I rode when I was a kid. Locked in that little time capsule. Today? I've gone through a couple of bicycle computers in recent years. History lost. Easily reset, erased and replaced.

To be fair, I looked around and I do have some things with LCD displays that have lasted a number of years now. They are not a complete loss. But now I think twice about everything I do buy. I'm now trying to find a dishwasher without LCD controls even though my own survival doesn't depend on it.

Digital devices are cool but don't use them when your life depends on it. Do you want a thermometer that only works when it's 30 to 80 degrees? Do you want a compass that only reads out one direction?

How about you? What are your experiences with LCD based equipment compared to the old? Do you have any survival gear that relies on newer technology?


Adam | Apr 6, 2009 | Category: Tech

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