Archive for January 30th, 2009

My digital camera is a Kodak DX7630. It’s a few years old, but capable of giving me the high enough resolutions for all my needs. However, the camera uses lithium-ion batteries of a design that you can’t buy in most stores. When the battery recharger lost a small but essential part, I had to hunt for a replacement. I found one, but, in doing so, discovered a product that was built for the manufacturer and not the user.

To start with, the old recharger was maybe eight by five by two centimeters. For no apparent reason, the new one is about fifty percent larger in all dimensions – enough so that, unlike the old one, it doesn’t fit in most pockets.

More importantly, the new recharger is designed to work with a number of different battery sizes and plugs. I can guess the reason: Kodak doesn’t want to bother making a variety of different rechargers, especially for older models. Presumably, too, it would prefer that people bought its more expensive docking station, rather than a recharger. But the result is near-chaos.

On paper, the new recharger might sound like a good idea. For instance, it comes with plug extensions for just about any type of electrical outlet in the world. But the extensions barely sit in position on the power source without falling off. The same is true of the battery holder and the recharger, which for some reason are not made of one piece, but two snap-together ones that keep separating. And, as if that isn’t enough, because the battery holder is designed to accommodate several different sizes, you have to position a battery exactly right before you can recharge.

And,needless to say, the new recharger only works if you position everything exactly right. If you don’t, you have several items to jiggle and adjust before any recharging is possible.

Nor does familiarity make the process easier. The slightest movement of any part of the unit can cause recharging to cease. You need a flat surface where nothing will come near the recharger for several hours whenever you are using it.

Oh, and don’t step too heavily within a couple of meters of the recharger. That could cause something to work loose, too.

About the only good thing you can say about this product is that you can, in fact, eventually recharge a battery. But, as convenient as the recharger is for Kodak, it’s an exercise in prolonged frustration for users every time that they use it.

Personally, if something in me didn’t shy from the idea of replacing a perfectly good piece of hardware, I’d take the new charger back and buy a replacement camera; I wouldn’t have that much more to spend, anyway. But, whether I buy a new camera or endure the new battery recharger, I still seem the victim of a perversity of capitalism, no matter how little I want to be.

Read Full Post »