When they say they don’t build things like they used to, that covers pretty much everything. From cars to computers, your house is full of things that are both A) built to fail and B) harder to repair than the consumer goods of previous generations. It’s an intentional design by consumer electronics companies, who want you to have to replace your products rather than repair them. In Japan, this phenomenon is known as the Sony timer; people have long believed that Sony’s products are programmed to break the month after the warranty period is over.
The rumor has been prevalent among the Japanese since the early 1980′s, though it’s not really taken too seriously. Even Sony has admitted to knowing about the rumor, though they deny it. Of course they would; why would they admit to designing a laptop with a time-activated kill switch inside?
Sony’s electronics are a mixed bag. I have friends who have Sony equipment purchased in the early 90s that’s working as well as it did the day it came off the factory floor. However, I had a Sony discman from later in the decade that was a big piece of junk and I swore off Sony’s products because of it. I think that product reliability is mostly luck-based these days; it’s all plastic crap, so did you get the sturdy plastic or the cracked piece?