NewtonsLaw asks: "With Christmas coming up I dare say that lots of people are going to spend big bucks on consumer electronics in the next few weeks. This column asks an interesting question -- are consumer electronics manufacturers sacrificing quality and reliability for an endless list of features? If you're like me, you've probably got a TV, VCR or other appliance you bought over 5 years ago which is still going strong -- but much of the stuff you've bought in the past 2-3 years is already giving trouble. What's more, it seems to be the big-name manufacturers such as Sony who are most affected by this decline in standards. I'd love to hear the experiences of other Slashdot readers in an effort to get as many data-points as possible. Are you better off buying a $49 DVD player on the expectation that it will only last a year or so -- or do lay out two or three times that amount something made by a big-name manufacturer in the (possibly vain) hope it will provide superior performance and last longer?"