Electronics

Last reviewed: August 2011

Given the speed of innovation, you might be less inclined to repair an electronic device even if it's only a few years old. For example, why repair a DVD player when a versatile Blu-ray player with Internet access now costs as little as $100? There are also fewer repair shops and retailers that specialize in electronics, and those that still do often require some money up front before they'll even look at your device. Manufacturers are less likely to charge for estimates, but you'll probably have to pay for shipping at least one way.

Still, you might not want to learn how to use a new device, endure the hassle of replacing a TV set that's connected to a sound system and can be readily fixed, or transfer your entire "life" to a new computer. In our survey, repair-satisfaction rates were highest for digital cameras and LCD TVs with a 53-inch or larger screen. Overall satisfaction was about the same for independent repair shops and factory-authorized ones, though independents charged slightly more. Cell phones aren't in our timeline because so few people try to fix them.

Dispose of electronics properly

Never toss nonworking electronics in the household trash because they can contain potentially hazardous materials, including cadmium, lead, and mercury. Go to www.earth911.com or www.digitaltips.org/green to find a recycling program in your area that will handle those materials responsibly. Some retailers also recycle. Best Buy takes computers and TVs free. Staples and Office Depot charge $10 to $15 per item.

Just looking for the latest innovation? Not everyone is an early adopter, so you might be able to sell a late-model computer, camera, or TV if it's in working order. The website www.ecosquid.com can match you with possible buyers and even give you an idea of how much the item is likely to fetch.