Overtom's weblog

DESIGNED TO BREAK?  (20 may 2005)

As you may know, this site sports one of the largest collections of chess computers on the Internet, the so-called Overtom Collection.

From time to time, I buy chess computers for the collection. 

When the computers arrive, I usually test them in order to see how well they play. And how do they perform? Well, I must say, some chess computers don't even play at all -- because they are broken.

Of all the computers made by manufacturer Fidelity, about half did not play when they arrived. So the conclusion is not far-fetched that Fidelity computers are far from sturdy.


Fellow-collectors collectors have confirmed this opinion: Fidelity computers tend to be fragile.

Whether the poor quality of their computers has anything to do with it or not -- Fidelity does not exist any more. Parts of the factory have been taken over by Excalibur.

And is this Excalibur any better?

Well, in earlier weblogs (click , click ) you could have read that Excalibur computers may look nice, but it's often not an exaggeration to call them sub-standard .

Less than half a year ago, I bought Excalibur's handheld chess computer Touch Chess.


Today, I tried to play a game with this -- admittedly nice-looking -- computer.

And you probably guesed it right: yes, the computer was broken. After less than half a year another Excalibur machine had snuffed it.

There's an urban legend according to which somewhere -- hidden in a safe -- lies the everlasting lightbulb. It's hidden because it wouldn't be in the industry's advantage to have a lamp that never needs replacing.

Would Excalibur use the same principle and make their computers so inferior that -- with normal use -- they have to be replaced in less than a year?

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