Dec
03
2008
1

How to Repair A Laptop: Option 2 – Big Box Stores

Broken Laptop

Broken Laptop

Before I start talking computer repair, I offer three caveats.  First, I have no formal training in diagnosing, repairing, or even using computers.  Second, I have no experience with repairing an Apple or Mac computer.  Third, all of the below only applies to laptop repair.  Its incredibly easy to swap out components on a desktop.

You’ve done the math and decided that it is a better use of your resources to repair your non-functional and out-of-warranty laptop.[1] You know that sending an out of warranty laptop to the manufacturer is a bad idea.  But, what about a big box store like Best Buy, Circuit City[2] , and Fry’s?[3]

Option 2:  Big Box Stores

When I’m not buying computer or electronics components online, I like Best Buy for products and Fry’s for components.  However, I would never have a computer diagnosed or repaired by either place.

First, let’s recognize that a big box store has certain priorities.  As such, their staff are trained to sell, not to diagnose or repair.  I imagine their priorities are, in order: (1) Sell you things, (2) sell you warranties for things, (3) sell you new things, and (4) sell you warranties for those new things, (5) LLR. [4] From a capitalistic perspective, its hard to argue with a business plan like this.

A little burned out component on the motherboard takes very special equipment and skill to replace.  When faced with such a problem you can replace the entire computer, the motherboard[5] , or just that one component.

From calling numerous computer repair facilities, I know very few of them have the special equipment and skill required to replace a single tiny component on a motherboard.  If dedicated repair facilities do not typically have this equipment, I doubt big box stores would be up to the task.

I think everyone’s heard the horror stories or seen the TV investigations of big box computer store repair services scamming unwary or uninformed consumers.  I have friends who hired Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” and still didn’t have their problems fixed.

If I were a very cynical person[6] I’d suggest that big box stores hire untrained staff who have a vested interest in charging a diagnostic fee to tell you that your computer and all your data is beyond recovery.

Luckily, I believe the third option, finding a reliable dedicated computer repair shop, is your best bet.

  1. Photo courtesy of Just Us 3. []
  2. They’re bankrupt, so don’t bother []
  3. For those of you who just can’t wait to find out: I think a dedicated computer facility is best. []
  4. LLR – Lather, rinse, repeat. []
  5. Which, by the time you need it, costs as much as your computer is worth. []
  6. And, I am. []
Aug
28
2008
0

2003 reasons to delete Vista

Looong story short, after Dell lost my Windows XP laptop they replaced eventually it with a new laptop (hooray!) with Windows Vista (boo!). Sure, I got used to it – but its a constant struggle. Once you strip down Vista, yanking out all the features that make it different from Windows XP, its not that bad. But, then again, there isn’t much good about it either. More than 18 months after the release of Vista, here’s my reason to not use it:

  • User Access Control
  • It requires more resources (hard drive space, RAM, processor speed)[1]
  • It will not work with MS Office 2003

In this day and age, there is exactly one reason to have Windows – Microsoft Office. If you want to play games, you’re better off with an XBox or PlayStation 3. If you want to surf the web, you can use your phone. For anything else, you can use a Mac or Linux.

A friend of mine confided that when her copy of MS Office 2003 didn’t work with Vista she bought MS Office 2007. This exact problem, my copy of MS Office 2003 not being able to run on my laptop running Vista, is why I turned to OpenOffice. Here’s the vicious cycle I perceive:

  1. Your old computer is slow.
  2. Buy a new computer.
  3. New computer comes with newest version of Windows.
  4. You buy all new software to run on the new version of Windows.
  5. Your computer is now loaded down with so much junk you need a faster computer.

I absolutely refuse to believe Microsoft is incapable of figuring out a way for their newest operating system to work with the world’s most popular office productivity software. The only possible explanation I will accept is that Microsoft is using the manufacturer’s theory of LRR.[2]

  1. Compare Windows XP’s requirements to Windows Vista’s for yourself. []
  2. Lather, rinse, repeat. []

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