The short answer is to Boston and back a couple of times (enjoy the photo). The long answer is, without my blogging computer. Here’s what happened.
The end of the year was approaching, so I figured I needed some writeoffs. I also was getting sick of lugging my heavy-yet-otherwise-awesome 15″ Dell widescreen laptop around on airplanes. So, I decided it was time for a new computer. I searched and I searched and I searched, and the only sub-13″ notebook with DVD player (my DVD-watching habits have rendered me unfit for a netbook) was the 10″ Sony Vaio TX series. Those are gorgeous, tiny laptops, but man the price is out of control! I found an older version, a 1 GHz model, used for around $700 on eBay, but was I willing to take a hit in speed just for a smaller computer?
So, I pulled up uBid, and it once again delivered on its promise of cheap high-end electronics. Up came this Averatec 2573 laptop with ridiculous specs, especially considering its price. Small 12″ widescreen size? Check. Dual-Core AMD processor? Check. Superfluous 3 GB of RAM and 250GB SATA HDD? CHECK!!! All for half the price and 3x the specs of the used Sony. This being the last week of 2008, I had to make sure the auction ended and I could pay before the end of the year. (Luckily uBid takes your credit card information down and runs the transaction automatically for you if you win. This allowed me to go out of town New Year’s Eve carefree, and it certainly eradicates the non-paying bidder syndrome that plagues eBay.)
So, I get back in town, check the auction, and see that I won. Meantime I mail the Dell to my buddy Garrett, figuring I’d have a new computer soon. I get the item a few days later and boot it up… but imagine how happy I was when I saw this:
Boom! What’s that? A Blue Screen of Death! (A BSOD is where the computer basically poops its pants and shuts down, indicating a severe problem.) I haven’t seen one of these since Windows ME (and newer versions on some rare occasion). I knew Vista was bad, but come on! I hadn’t even had the chance to fully boot the thing and it’s blowing bluescreens right out of the box?
So, we check it, we check it, and we check some more. I plop a CD of Memtest 86+ into the drive and let it work its magic. (It’s a fantastic utility. You boot off the Memtest CD and it writes zeroes to every single bit of your computer’s memory. If it “recites” them and the read is inaccurate, it tells you and pof! Instant diagnosis. Memtest can be downloaded free here.) Turns out the RAM is okay. That leaves either the hard drive or the motherboard.
I then wipe the hard drive and install XP. It seems to work fine. I then install a couple different flavors of Linux, and both tell me I have something wrong with my hard drive and need to replace it soon. So, I first called uBid, and they said they’d be happy to replace it, but they’d prefer I try the manufacturer first. Fair enough. So, I called Averatec (took me long enough… they got bought out by Trigem and apparently changed all their phone numbers to celebrate).
They said while I couldn’t just mail them the bad hard drive (would’ve saved me a TON of time, but I can’t really expect a comp company to do that), I could send them the laptop and they’d mail it back within 24-48 hours of receiving it. Great! So I FedEx Express it off to them and I wait. A few days later, they call and say, “Sorry sir, we can’t fix this under warranty. You obviously dropped it right on the corner where the hard drive is. It will cost about $300 to fix the damaged casing and the hard drive.” I what??? That can’t be! Ohhh wait… FedEx. I get that sinking feeling in my stomach, so I ask them to send me photos of the damage. That s$%t was wrecked, son!
Oh no, I only insured the package for $100. I spend the month of January on the phone with both FedEx and Averatec’s techician contractor, trying to have one send the other photos of the damage so I can at least recoup $100 of the cost…
Then magically one day they email me. “Don’t worry sir, it’s been approved for warranty repair. :)” What? Don’t fix it yet, FedEx may have to come and inspect… “Nope it’s all taken care of, 100%.” Well shiver me timbers. I still have no idea why they did it. Maybe they figured they were wasting a ton of time/money in dealing with my situation?
Regardless of the reason, I’m pretty darn impressed. I told the lady to convey to her supervisor my gratitude and my intention to become an Averatec reseller because of the pleasant outcome. I also told her to look foward to this here blog post. Here’s hoping I get the comp back soon and in good shape!
I haven’t gotten the computer back, but as soon as I do I’ll plop my BETA COPY OF WINDOWS 7 ON IT!!! and do a review of it. I’ve used it once already and I’m actually impressed…