Finally Replaced My Dying Beast of A Laptop

It’s been a busy couple of days, filled with long talks with my wife about plans for the beginning of next month, when I’ll be moving to the Philippines, along with our cats.  It’s also been busy because I finally picked up a new laptop.

For those of you that have been keeping up with my blog for a while you’ll remember that about a year ago I started complaining about issues with my MacBook Pro.  I’d originally bought the thing in March of 2007.  I guess you could say it was a birthday present to myself, so I went all out and got the best specs and I wound up dropping about 3500 USD on it.  3 years on, I think it was a waste of money.

I first started noticing a problem with it about 5 months after I bought it, in August of 2007.  At the time I was still in the US military, on a deployment in Kuwait.  I was staying in a very quiet, nicely air conditioned barracks. It was an open bay barracks, meaning the whole thing was one big room, so noise was kept at a minimum out of respect for people who were working different shifts and may be asleep during the day.  I was able to hear a faint clicking noise coming from the left internal fan.  Being in Kuwait and locked down on an Army camp I had no way to do anything about it until I went on leave (vacation) in October.

As soon as I got to NYC I went to the 5th Avenue Apple store and dropped it off to be serviced.  Roughly 6 days later, I had to go up there and demand that it be returned because they’d kept it longer than they said they would and I had to leave to go back to Kuwait.  When the guy came back with it, he said that they’d found some dust inside the laptop, but there was nothing wrong with the fan.

The clicking noise continued and later research on the internet showed that it wasn’t an isolated problem.  Of course, by the time I got back from Kuwait, finished the mad rush of paperwork, picking up my car and household goods, and going through all the medical processing, my warranty was expired.  Not to mention that there was no Apple store around to take it to again anyway.

Additionally, during the last few months I was in Kuwait the DVD “Super” drive failed.  It no longer recognized discs and would make some ‘clack, clack’ noises and then spit the DVD (or CD) back out.  The only disc it seemed to accept properly was my Leopard installation disc.

A few months later, shortly after arriving in Singapore in February of 2008, the Express Card 34 slot broke.  I was trying to insert an eSATA adapter and instead of hearing the familiar sound of the card seating, I heard something snap and break and the adapter just sat there, loose in the socket.  The locking mechanism must have gotten stuck in the wrong position and been broken off when I inserted the card.

Thankfully, the thing held up well until May of last year.  The noise from the fan started to increase but that was all.

May was when it really started to go bad on me though.  The OS started to slow down considerably.  Fresh installs did nothing to help it.  Shortly after that the left fan finally gave out.  Whenever I started doing anything that would generate a high amount of heat, like using 3D programs or watching Flash videos, the left fan would spin up and make a sound like a lawn mower dying.

Since then I’ve been putting back money when I was able and I was finally able to afford and justify the purchase of a new laptop.

Given my past experience with my MacBook Pro, I decided to go with something far cheaper and hopefully far more reliable.  During that long ordeal with that beast of a machine I found out that Macs are plagued with hardware issues.  I guess I really should have coughed up the extra money for the Apple Care Extended Warranty, but I figured that having spent so much on a premium product it would be reliable.  That obviously wasn’t the case.

So, now I have a Lenovo Y450.  It’s got an HD screen, an nVidia GeForce 210M video card, a 2.13 ghz dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM and it even sounds good.  It has Dolby Home Theater software that’s supposed to make it kick ass.  It’s also running Windows 7, which is taking some getting used to.  I’ve primarily used OS X and Ubuntu for the last few years.  The whole thing has a nice, solid feel to it though and the only trouble I’m having so far is finding programs to replace the ones I’m accustomed to.  Oh, it came with freebies too: a shoulder bag and a wired mouse.  The mouse works well, even without a mouse pad, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with the bag.  It’s not a bright idea to walk around in Manila advertising that you’re carrying a laptop with you.

I also think that I’m done buying Apple products.  For a long while anyway.  I’ll use the iPods we have until they die and then maybe replace them.  There’s probably a cheaper alternative that’s just as nice and supports more formats.  I don’t think I’ll get another iPhone after this one either.  It’s nice and all, but I hardly use the majority of the apps on the thing, the camera is crap and it seems to stay behind in functionality compared to competitors.  That’s a story for another post though.

One last photo:

Dapper, The Great Investigator, examining the laptop box, perhaps to see if it’s suitable for use as a cat bed.

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