Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Does HP Stand for "Hardly Performing" or "Highly Problematic?"

I bought my first computer almost 20 years ago.  It was slower and had less memory than my current cell phone.  Taking a screen shot and pasting it into a document crashed the system.  My current laptop is so much faster and more powerful that I should be ashamed to complain about it – but I’m going to anyway.

My first laptop was a Dell.  By the time the Dell was three and a half years old its hard drive was completely full.  I axed all optional software and stored every possible data file on an external hard drive, but big graphics still froze everything.  In retrospect, I should just have bought a bigger hard drive and some memory, but no.  I was a web and graphics professional.  I needed MORE!  This time I bought an HP, partly because I’ve always had good luck with their printers, but mainly because it was cheap.

Note the word “cheap.”  Originally I would have said “more affordable,” but “cheap” is the correct terminology.

Less than a month after its one-year warranty expired, the laptop started acting up.  The graphics card overheats and the system shuts down to protect itself.  To fix this I would have to ship the laptop to HP to have the entire motherboard replaced.  As a stopgap I purchased a cooling pad to use any time I’m going to be on the computer for more than an hour.

Now the battery has failed (the one on the Dell lasted five years) and the screen mysteriously cracked while the laptop was sitting quietly in its case in my office.  The built-in wireless receiver also constantly drops network connections, even when the router is less than 6 feet away.  This is not acceptable performance for a computer less than two years old.

image of angry person jumping on a laptop computerI really can’t afford a new computer with the power I need, but the shipping and repair costs for this one would probably rival the cost of a new machine.  I can’t cadge a loan from Barry because he blew his budget for the year on the monster TV.  I can limp along with the HP for a little while longer, but I have to replace it before it dies completely; after all, without a good computer I can’t do either of my jobs, and I do enjoy regular meals.  I just need to decide whether Dell or Sony will have the honor of melting down my credit card.

"Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy."  ~Joseph Campbell

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