Table saws and electronics

At this time of year our thoughts turn to choosing gifts for others and deciding what we would most like to find in our own stockings come Christmas morning.

I managed to get my gift shopping for others out of the way pretty quickly and soon moved on to the important question of what I would like for myself. My first choice of present would have been the recently-launched Asus Eee PC mini notebook, which I’ve mentioned in this column before.

It is small, light and easy to cart around, and comes equipped with Linux and a wide variety software programs. It is going for around $400 in the USA, which makes it a great bargain and, unfortunately, everyone else has noticed that as well.

We initially believed that supplies would reach these shores in time for Christmas but it now seems that they are in such demand, and South Africa is such a low priority, that they are now only expected next February, at the earliest. Damn! That meant I had to go to Plan B and check out what was actually available in the shops.

Actually going to a shopping centre at this time of the year on the off-chance of finding something is a definite no no, as far as I’m concerned, so I had a look at some websites instead. The first one I went to,, has some interesting electronic things on offer, but I’m no longer sure that I want them.

My doubts were brought on by the fact that, on the front page of the website, there was a DSTV personal video recorder (PVR) decoder for R1999 next to a popular-brand electric drill for R379. Now, I want a PVR decoder, but I can’t accept that it is equivalent in value to 5,27 decent electric drills.

Another retailer had a digital SLR camera and printer bundle for R7999, which sounds like a very reasonable price, until you consider that you can get 2,6 Defy four-plate stoves for that price. It’s late in the year and I haven’t got enough thoughts left to take this through to its logical conclusion but, surely to goodness, shouldn’t small electronics should be much cheaper than they are?

Mind you, based on the stuff that’s being shown on DSTV these days, maybe it’s just as well to have an excuse not to buy myself a PVR. I don’t like soapies, fashion and celebrity shows, most reality shows and most b-grade movies, so there would be very little that I’d want to record anyway.

Is it just me or has the quality of the DSTV programming really plunged in the last few years? That might be OK if it was really cheap but it’s not; you could probably hire a DVD every day or buy five or six of them every month, for much the same price.

Anyway, back to my gift conundrum; maybe I’ll get myself a table saw or a drill press. I haven’t got a complete idea of what I’ll do with them but, at least, I’ll have the satisfaction of having something substantial for my money, and not just a few bits of silver plastic.

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