Planned obsolescence

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Good news: Charter called to tell me they were doubling my internet speed for free. The other side of that equation is that my wireless router quit working the same day as the upgrade. Coincidence? I think not.

I had a Netgear N900, which is a pretty good router, and I only bought it 13 months or so ago. I probably spent $120.

I got excited. New technology? Pshaw. I was in the mood for an upgrade, so assuming the worst, I went to Best Buy and purchased a Netgear Nighthawk for $187. But when I got home, I decided to try one last time to figure out what was wrong with the old one, so I called Netgear technical assistance.

They had a horrible interface to get to the humans. I was frustrated and yelling into the phone because the computer couldn't understand the voice prompt. Then the heavily accented “technician” made me register it, giving personal information they had no reason to know. That irritated me. Then we started the hoop jumping. “Hold in the reset button for 60 seconds, when I tell you to, unplug it.” Fine. When it restarted, the lights were all in the right place, and it was working. “Now unplug it.” When I restarted it, the lights were all in the wrong place, and it ceased to function exactly as before.

“There is nothing wrong with your hardware, but unfortunately, you're past warranty and 276 days past technical assistance. You need a firmware update. You can buy an extended warranty, otherwise I can't help you install it, and since it's SVFTP, you probably won't be able to do it yourself.”

I thanked him and said it's probably too technical for me, then pushed the reset button for 60 seconds, replugged the power cord, downloaded the update, and installed it through the GUI. It took maybe 45 seconds.

Netgear could push firmware updates, but then who'd need the $187 upgrade? Who'd buy the extended warranty? I'll take great joy returning the new Nighthawk. And I'll probably randomly smile at my ancient N900 until the day I replace it with a new D-Link.