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How do you describe the difference between consumable and non-consumable electronic items?

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I have a doubt: What do you mean by saying "Consumable" and Non-consumable"? –  Alenanno Sep 8 '11 at 9:34
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Electronic cigarettes come under this category as being consumable. It is recommended that they be changed every two to three months. However, I have two that have been functioning for the past year, so I am sure that there will be a time coming soon when they will become defunct and will have to be replaced.

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I'm curious about this as well, and for a very specific reason: I saw cell phones referred to "consumable" and that doesn't make sense to me. I suspect it is a marketing tactic to get customers to accept and trust the pressure placed on them to get new cell phones every 2 years.

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Consumables are items that you need to periodically replace in order for a non-consumable device to perform its intended function. Printer cartridges, fax rolls, photocopier toners, batteries, camera film and light bulbs are all examples of consumables for electrical and electronic devices.

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Consumable just means that the item is something that can be used up (and is then either gone or useless). The only item used in modern electronics I can think of that would fit this category would be non-rechargable batteries. Blank CD's I guess would kind of count.

Just about everything else is meant to be reused indefinitely (although everything has a lifetime of course).

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Your printers don't use cartridges? –  oerkelens Jan 23 at 18:06
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I'm not sure what the question is. Would you give some examples of where or on what occasions you see the phrase 'consumable/non-consumable electronic items'?

Electronic items are generally considered consumer products , rather than being classified as 'consumable' or 'non-consumable'. If we adopt Webster's definition as quoted by Thursagen, then electronic items are just consumable, as they can be destroyed, used beyond repair or discarded. I don't really recall seeing any electronic item labelled as 'non-consumable'.

Some electronic products, e.g. office copier machines, may generally last longer or get replaced less frequently than others, e.g. personal mobile phones. That might give you a sense that personal mobile phones are 'consumable' but copier machines are 'non-consumable', but that's really not the difference between 'consumable' and 'non-consumable'.

Also, as Thursagen has pointed out, many accessories of electronic items are 'consumables', for example photo printer paper, catridges and toners, digital camera batteries - but these are not exactly electronic items themselves (maybe except the batteries). So I'm not sure if you're actually referring to the consumable accessories for electronic items when you say 'consumable electronic items'.

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cartridges and toner could be considered electronic, cartridges regularly come with chips and sensors indicating ink levels and interfaces for the printer, just like batteries have wear and tear levelling across cells and sensors to indicate power output and capacity. –  Tom J Nowell Nov 14 '11 at 15:32
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Okay, trying my best here to make this clear. I hope I don't get too muddy.

A "consumable" product is one that gets used up, that is, it can spoil, or has a life:

A consumable is, according to the 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary, something that is capable of being consumed; that may be destroyed, dissipated, wasted, or spent.

Consumables are products that consumers buy recurrently, i.e., items which "get used up" or discarded.
For example consumable office supplies are such products as paper, pens, file folders, post-it notes, computer disks, and toner or ink cartridges.

Now, the confusing part, is "non-consumable" stuff.

"Non-comsumable" thing don't necessarily mean that they are, invincible, and they last forever. "Non-consumable", is more of a legal term, and means:

a thing (as land, furniture, or shares of stock) that may be enjoyed without altering its substance except for natural deterioration over time

"Non-consumable" objects also includes capital goods:

(Consumable products) : Not included capital goods such as computers, fax machines, and other business machines or office furniture.

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