Sunday, March 15, 2015

Buying a Lap Top

In 2007 I got a peculiar diagnostic on my PC, which led to my replacing the battery on the motherboard.  It was slow booting up as well.  The two primary choices were getting another PC or a laptop.  With a laptop, you don’t need an UPS (uninterruptible power source) since it comes with a battery.  It also has a much smaller footprint.  Still I would feel like a chump when something broke and I had to send it in for fixing.  Lap tops have even tinier little connections and all sorts of gotchas when you take them apart. Usually by the time that happens, it’s time for a new one.  There is the possibility that I might actually carry it around with me.  I determine to get a lap top.
There are two choices Dell or HP.  They both have nice web sites.  HP is offering 64-bit machines, Dell isn’t.  Why would I want to have fewer bits?  I’m an American; also HP gives a free printer. 
My first order I go wild, I think it was around $1700.  Then HP declined the order because I specified a third party to receive it.  I live alone, I work; it didn’t make sense to me to have to go Franklin Park to pick up my laptop.  I had a friend who worked at a UPS store and I told them to ship it there.  HP wouldn't do it.  I’ve often wondered why dry cleaners and post office box places couldn’t take delivery for packages; apparently, it’s the shippers. 
I tried a few big box stores but their offerings looked like chump bait.
The next time I was more sensible:
HP Pavilion dv6700z Entertainment CTO NB
- Upgrade to Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1 (64-bit)
- AMD Turion(TM) 64 X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology Gold Edition TL-64 (2.2 GHz)
- 15.4" diagonal WXGA High-Definition HP BrightView Widescreen Display (1280 x 800)
- 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
- NVIDIA GeForce Go 7150M
- HP Imprint Finish (Radiance) + Microphone
- FREE Upgrade to 802.11b/g WLAN and Bluetooth from 802.11b/g WLAN!!
- 120GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
- SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
- No TV Tuner w/remote control
12 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
- Computrace LoJack for Laptops, One Year
- System Recovery DVD with Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)
- Microsoft(R) Office Home and Student 2007
- HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope
I probably should have gotten a faster chip and less ram.  This came to $1200.  Two years later, similar specifications from HP cost $800, so I don’t feel that taken. I had them deliver to my office, so the order was accepted.
Taking it out of the box, I realize I’ve bought a shiny glass laptop, so much for portability. (- HP Imprint Finish (Radiance))   I’d sooner carry a vase around with me.  Actually most vases are not only less expensive but less fragile.
The printer came with a manufacturers rebate.  It is just a junky little printer and that’s all I need.  I have no idea why they bother to try printing color.  The most expensive part of a printer is the ink.  I suppose if I were buying from a store, the manufacturer rebate would make some sense but I am buying from the manufacturer.  This is just insulting.  They want me to include three different documents.  Obviously, they don’t expect people to bother.  I guess $70 means something to HP.  Then they refuse to honor the rebate because they shipped as two separate orders.  American Express takes my complaint, it seems reasonable to them, then gives up.  Finally, I remember that I live in Illinois. Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General has a web site.  I file a complaint with her suggesting that this might be a class action.  HP sends my rebate.  If Lisa Madigan runs for mayor, I’ll have to vote for her.
64 bit just isn’t working.  It comes up fast and then fails.  Microsoft browser fails. Chrome and Firefox work a little better. Maybe that’s why Dell didn’t sell 64bit. Sometimes it locks up and I have to take the battery out to boot it.  My job’s VPN, the CISCO package that I telecommute with is 32 bit.  A 64-bit version is expensive and my company isn’t interested. AT&T antivirus won’t work on 64 bit either. I jam the battery taking it in and out. (- 12 Cell Lithium Ion Battery)  Admittedly, this is my fault, but it shouldn’t be that easy to jam and I should be able to fix it myself.  I wrap up the very expensive, fast booting brick in the convenient mailer provided and ship it back with instructions to fix the battery and make the operating system 32 bit. (- HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope)
After some hemming and hawing they put the 32bit Vista on.
I tell them just send it to my apartment. The LoJack that is supposed to trace it if stolen is registered and I am no longer that concerned. (- Computrace LoJack for Laptops, One Year) When I get it back, everything works.
Three years later I can’t upgrade to the new browser, the SP update fails; maybe it’s something about a 64 bit machine with a 32 bit operating system.  A minor irritation but Yahoo keeps nagging me to upgrade.  Then the laptop fails.  The screen flickers then freezes. Whenever I turn it on the laptop keeps going on and off. The nice man on the phone tells me it’s my video chip and it will cost $350 to fix. (- NVIDIA GeForce Go 7150M) This is a common problem with HP Pavilion.
The new laptops come with removable video cards.
Here’s a video on baking the mother board:
I order a tower from Dell.  64 bit internet explorer still doesn’t work, so Dell includes the 32 bit version.
After poking around on the web, it turns out that the NVIDIA chip burns so hot it melts the solder and loses contact.  This wouldn’t be so difficult to fix except that this chip is soldered to the mother board, buried under a heat sink, with the whole thing squished underneath all the other doodads HP sold me.
Then I try just leaving the laptop on sloping the opposite way.  That is I take out the battery, put it on the power cord and prop up the front slightly.  It keeps doing it’s recycling routine until three hours later, it works.  That chip is really hot.  This allows me to rescue my files.
As computers get smarter, the chips get denser and hotter-a good mind is hard to fan.
When I use the laptop it sometimes fails, I guess the video chip is sloshing around in its solder.  The fan works but the laptop is really hot.  Maybe they should build them with a metal case and lots of fans.  I lost an earlier PC, with a metal case, to static when I left it on a rug.
Maybe I could use the laptop to run a blog site.

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