Up in Smoke

The laptop that I've been using for the past 4+ years has quite literally gone up in smoke. It's not so dramatic as a great blaze of glory, but there was quite a bit of smoke.

Last night I was duly shutting it down when I suddenly heard a "pop," follow by a puff of smoke coming out from a vent on the bottom side of the laptop and and acrid smell of burning insulation. Fortunately, my computer continued to shut down and completed the shutdown, so I think I should be able to safely recover the data on the hard drive. However, I wasn't going to do so by turning the computer back on to transfer files. The computer was pretty much toast.

Under normal circumstances, I would have spent a lot of time researching and I probably would have bought online. Ever since an initial bad experience with buying a computer in a chain electronics store, I tried to avoid said stores like the plague. This time, however, I really didn't have much of a choice. Given the nature of my work and my shuttling back and forth between multiple locations to get work done, I really do need a laptop, and I need it fast--there's no time to wait for shipping. Needing it fast puts me at a great disadvantage in terms of getting a good deal--as a friend said, I was basically buying a computer under duress. Fortunately, because I knew my computer had been on its last legs for a while, I did a little bit of thinking about what I want from my new computer. While the ideas were not as concrete as it was during my first laptop purchase, it nonetheless helped me make a good decision on the fly. More importantly, I got some very wise technical counsel in the form of my friends.

I was advised by some to buy a laptop from Costco due to their generous return policy; if what I bought didn't work out, at least I bought myself some time to do research and find a computer that I really want. I agree that it is a good approach, as a majority of chain electronic stores do not accomodate the try-after-you-buy grace period--a hefty restocking fee is usually slapped on those who are dissatisfied with the product. With these points in mind, I headed to Costco to check out the laptop selection. Unfortunately, the laptops were not appealing to me at all--they were either too big and heavy or small yet expensive.

Next, I followed up on a lead that a tech-expert friend found. He told me about a couple of HP laptops at Office Depot, which would end up being $600 after rebate plus tax. The smaller of the two seemed perfect on paper--it is lightweight, which is an important criterion, yet it has enough juice to do what I need. Better yet, it has all the extras my old computer didn't have, and it costs less. I went to one Office Depot store to see the machine in person, and it is just perfect for me. Unfortunately, it appears to be perfect for a lot of people as well--that store location did not have any in stock other than the floor model, and the same goes for other stores in the area except one store, which had the last laptop in stock. I immediately asked that lone machine be held for me, and drove like mad to get there before the store closed.

I'm completely exhausted by the hours of driving I did (both for work and for chasing down all the necessary computer equipment), as well as the time it took to minimally set the computer up for my use. I will feel a lot better once I can get my old laptop's hard drive in an enclosure and get the important data out. But so far, I'm quite happy with the new laptop. As the icing on the cake, the "special edition" laptop has pretty designs on it, too. Pictures will come later.

[UPDATE: Yay! My hard drive is OK after all. Quite a bit of a scare when I couldn't get data off of it at first, but it turned out to be a couple of bent needles.]


ambika said...

My old laptop had the tendency to overheat & I'm still shocked it didn't go up in smoke. I recently bought a Dell from one of those big chain stores after my boyfriend helped me determine they really did have the best deal (2 people in front of me in line were buying the same thing so apparently it was a pretty good deal.) I'm ridiculously happy with it after putting up with the tempermental machine I had before.

Sales Rack Raider said...

When people flock to buy computers like that, you know it's a good deal.

My old laptop was a Dell--I liked the ability to customize it online, wasn't all that expensive, and it served faithfully for quite some time. Despite a lot of people complaining about Dells, I was pretty happy with mine.