Editorial: 'New and improved': Beware of old products that undergo substantial modification each year

October 1, 2008

A device that undergoes substantial modification yearly probably has unsolved problems that require correction.

Key Points

Last year, I bought a box of instant cereal. I thought it tasted like sugared cardboard.

I resolved never to purchase this product again - until I noticed that the breakfast concoction is now "new and improved."

Maybe they got rid of the gritty feel, artificial sugary taste, overpowering strawberry flavor and foul aftertaste.

I am not sure.

The 'ultimate' in antiaging

I must admit I feel this way about many of the electronic devices sold to dermatologists as the "ultimate" in anti-aging therapy.

At last year's American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) meeting, Wonder Device "X" was hot!

Why, this LED device produced tissue-tightening - resulting in wrinkle reduction after four to six treatments, with no downtime. The carefully selected diodes were programmed for perfection.

This sounded wonderful - until I vaguely remembered the electronics salesman telling me that I could purchase a big-screen LED television for about the same price.

I purchased the television, and I sit in front of it every night as part of my own anti-aging therapy.

The Wonder Device "X" company didn't come to the AAD this year. Maybe they are selling TVs.

'New and improved' rarely is

However, a new laser is showcased at the meeting this year.

The manufacturer is selling "new and improved" technology.

The old, painful, scarring, long-downtime device touted last year is now new - painless and devoid of side effects.

It treats wrinkles, removes pigmented lesions, decreases redness, removes hair, and sits neatly in a small corner of the exam room. It even has built-in storage in the base.

Marvelous! Should I buy the laser, or should I buy a bookcase for extra exam room storage? I am not sure.

The laser sounds promising, but a bookcase purchase would be cheaper - with enough money left over to buy a new sports car.

I think I will wait until the next AAD to see if the laser salesman is now working at a car lot.

The only way to determine if a device truly lives up to expectations is to examine its longevity.

An excellent design will leave little room for improvement; thus, changes will be minimal and cosmetic.

A device that undergoes substantial modification yearly probably has unsolved problems that require correction - just like the sugared cardboard breakfast cereal.