One of my photos

Any colour you like

September 9th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 1 Comment · Life

About five or six years ago televisions were all silver – or at least silver coloured. Likewise all the peripherals were nearly all silver-coloured – the DVD players, video recorders (they were still on sale then), surround amplifiers and so on.  (By the way, in case nobody noticed, this is one of those boring idle musing posts.  Casual readers are advised to skip it)At the time this was a bit annoying.  I had a large collection of black electrical toys – the amp, CD deck, minidisc deck, turntable, tuner, tape deck all in a black rack, big black TV with a black VCR and DVD.  I think that even the satellite receiver was dark.  The TV packed up five years ago and when I went to look for a replacement every shop was full of silver TVs.  There was no choice at all.  OK, there were some big plasma screens but at that time they were outside the budget and firmly in the realm of science fiction anyway as far as I was concerned.  So I ended up with a greyish silver television.

About that time the sound played up on the DVD player and I took the opportunity to get a multi-standard player that could handle SACD as well.  Of course, I could only get it in silver.  Stuck out like a sore thumb, but fortunately I am not obsessed with the aesthetics: although I would get everything the same colour by choice, if one component stands out then so be it.  I suspect some people would make a point of replacing everything else to match though, even if it was working perfectly well.

That DVD player packed up this year and there was a benefit to it – everything has now changed, black is the new black, and I got a replacement that matches everything else.  Except the TV of course.  In fact, looking around Comet and Currys I see that everything is black.  If you had fallen into the fashion trap and kitted yourself out with all silver-coloured boxes four or five years ago and one box failed, you would not be able to easily replace it now.

Of course you can lgo to specialised shops and websites, but the general public seems to do most of its electrical shopping at Comet, Currys and Argos where there is obviously a marketing conspiracy to persuade everybody to change everything every few years.  The fashion for audio-visual equipment fluctuates between black and silver (or ‘brushed aluminium’) every now and then.  In the beginning everything was in wooden cabinets, but since then it has been a black/silver alternation with just a mild flirtation with gold coloured stuff in the 70s. I think I remember that, unless it was just a bad dream.

The manufacturers keep coming up with new features to help you think your previous pride and joy is obsolete and the shops do their best to make you scrap perfectly good equipment.  Look at new plasma/LCD/LED screens now and they nearly all have a special offer where a DVD or home cinema kit is thrown in for such a small additional cost you are tempted to ‘upgrade’ so that you end up with everything the same colour.

With the explosion in large flat panel screens over the last few years I am guessing that most households now have one with matching glossy black accessories and so I reckon that black electrical equipment will be scace in a couple of years.  The shops will be full of silver-effect goods.  It seems unthinkable now, but how else will we be persuaded to replace functioning equipment and keep the economy afloat?

What is strange is how it happens.  One day everything is silver and the next time you go into a shop everything is black.  Or the other way round.  There must be a period when the shops are half and half but I can’t recall one.

Or maybe everything will go white – but the best opportunity for that has been missed.  When the iPod first came out and was only available in whitethe industry could have tilted that way.

But that is not what I started off thinking about.  I started thinking about the colour of computers. For a long time nearly all PCs, monitors and printers were beige.  PCs were often referred to as beige boxes.  Everyone complained that they just didn’t match the decor of homes but still the companies persisted in churning them out.  Look in the shops now and nearly all computers are black or silver or black and silver.   You can get laptops in funkier colours and Apple persist with white, but generally PCs are now black.

I was idly wondering the other day, what was the last beige computer?   The thing is, as confident as I am that all TVs and DVD players will be silver again in a couple of years, I am equally confident that nobody is going to start producing beige computers again. That has surely gone the way of avocado bathroom suites.

So will computers manufacturers all decide to change to white some time?  Or blue?  Could be, but I think that computers genuinely do get too slow and out-of-date quickly enough that the business doesn’t need to rely so heavily on fashion to get us to replace them.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    You get the same thing with fridges and the like (white goods, ha!) – when we were replacing ours it was an extra choice on top of energy rating etc. Lets start a campaign to get everything in avocado – thats what you were getting at wasn’t it, I lost the plot half way through….?