Saturday, May 12, 2007

Laptop Schmaptop

When I bought a new laptop several weeks ago, I bought it at Costco for one reason: their return policy. Costco offered a six-month return policy (since then cut to three months), and since I had never owned a laptop before, and since it came with the brand new Vista operating system, the only way I would have bought one of these things was with a long return policy like Costco's.

Now it's going back, not to be replaced.

Several things about the computer lead me to return it. Primary among them is continued incompatibility with iTunes videos. It's hard to know exactly what the problem is, but the effect is that there's no sense in having any iTunes videos on the machine. Up until Apple's most recent update of Quicktime, one could copy the videos from the hard drive to a thumb drive, from which they would play perfectly. Coupled with the machine's having two gig of RAM, a dual core AMD Turion processor and nVidia graphics, this means the problem is not a lack of oomph.

Now that I've gone through several iterations of trying this and that at the suggestion of HP's support people, and with their last suggestion being to restore the machine to factory condition (and failing that, to send it in for hardware repair), I'm packing it up to get my money back.

A few things greatly reduced my confidence in the machine. For example, I understood that it came equipped with an SATA hard drive, but the Device Manager wrongly reported a SCSI drive instead. The support people confirmed it is an SATA hard drive, and dismissed the SCSI part with a comment that it was only a device name. Well, maybe so, but it's not right and it doesn't inspire confidence.

A couple of nights ago I got a sudden blue screen of death. It said that the operating system had been stopped to prevent damage of some sort. When the machine re-booted, I was presented with
Windows Vista license alert

Windows has detected that an unauthorized change was made to your Windows license. This alert appears when a copy of Windows in unlicensed or if Windows activation has been bypassed.
... To purchase Windows Vista now, go to the Windows Vista website.
No thanks.

For the past year or two I've been trying to use online applications rather than having software on my computer. I no longer use an email client, having found webmail acceptable. I resisted the urge to put Office on this laptop, and so far Google and ThinkFree's services seem acceptable. You can do all sorts of things online that used to require on-board applications. I think that's liberating, and it certainly made ditching this laptop an easier decision. Sure you're dependent on the the Internet, but so what? I'm dependent on the interstate highway system, the electricity grid and a whole lot more public infrastructure anyway, so why worry about it?


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