Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Terminal decline?

I am writing from a doomed laptop. As if the Blue Screen of Death episode wasn't enough, it has decided not to recognise its own sound card (whilst still making all the usual Microsoft noises), can't work its internal wireless modem and has begun to ignore the USB ports. Oh, and when I tried to view a file on my data-stick, it couldn't view it, attempted to "install new hardware", looped on trying to find a driver (there isn't one - it is only a flash drive), and seized up.

This has never been a 100% happy relationship. I bought the laptop blind in 2005, through a scheme at work, the year the British Government decided to give tax breaks to fund its "home computer initiative". There were only two laptop choices in the scheme and I rejected the Apple one on the grounds that it didn't contain a DVD-writer. So I ended up with this, a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo D. I can't recommend them. I've been disappointed from the day I opened the box.

From the start, switching it on was a nightmare. I thought the problem was the on-off switch, but it turned out to be a battery connection. (This is one machine that won't work unless it's battery is in its socket. And battery life is abysmal.) I spent an hour on the phone to Fujitsu sorting that out.

The current sound-card problems are just an extension of an intermittent problem it always had but was hard to demonstrate on demand: the first time I wanted to play back a recording to my singing class, it failed. It had worked fine the day before, but at class we only got the video playback without any audio. Since it was still under warrantee at the time, I got onto the help desk and naturally it worked perfectly.

And then there is the fact that it has always been too big and heavy. We've always had a desktop computer - I'd wanted a small, lightweight laptop that was easy to carry around with me. I've been using laptops for work since 1997, when "going out on audit" meant lugging around a Cannon 386 laptop equiped with Windows 3.1. Even that dinosaur was lighter than this one!

There is only one thing for it. It's time to buy a new laptop. We went window shopping yesterday. I saw some pretty netbooks (keyboards are two small for this touch typist). My inner-accountant thrilled at the new wide-screen laptops that come complete with a built in number pad (no more struggling to enter columns of numbers into Excel). But I've defined what I want: a 12-inch screen; minimum of 3GB of RAM; integrated webcam; 250GB hard disk; DVD-writer with Blu-Ray, Dolby surround sound, etc. Sadly, my budget is a bit lower than the price of my wish list, so I will have to compromise somewhere. But a girl can dream.

The next problem is what to do about Vista. I don't want it and I don't need it. I own licences for Windows XP and Office 2005. I haven't heard a good thing about Vista from any of the users I know. I want to wait for the next generation to be released, when all the bugs will have been sorted out, before I install it. Any suggestions as to how to rid myself of this blight?

- Pam (got to go. DH wants to go shopping.)

1 comment:

Lydee said...

can't help you with the vista issues; i have a macbook. But your trials with your laptop are terrible and entertaining all at the same time. Hope you get a new one soon!