I'm hesitant to post a whiny blog as the first of 2010, but I've been putting off writing and figure you have to start somewhere...and my fellow geeks will agree that when your computer is having problems it's at the forefront of your mind.
Last year I purchased a HP HDX18 laptop. I did a lot of research, considered building my own, but in the end decided that the 40% off coupon that HP runs every few months made it too good of a deal to pass up. Looking back I might have reconsidered if I had known the problems that were hidden behind that sleek exterior.
The first major problem I had was when I would arrive at work or class only to realize that my laptop had come out of sleep mode in my bag. It seemed that when the screen opens the laptop automatically wakes up and I couldn't find any way of disabling this functionality. Unfortunately it happened on a trip while the laptop was in it's bag inside the trunk. Apparently that was the last straw as it wouldn't boot once I got to my destination. HP support had to replace the motherboard, but didn't have a solution for it waking up so I resolved to shut it down completely before putting it in a bag.
Soon after I noticed my volume would spontaneously turn up, down or mute and my wireless would disable itself, sometimes repeatedly. This was extremely annoying and I tried everything I could including reinstalling the operating system and updating drivers/software. Even after spending over an hour on the phone with support I couldn't find a solution, so I just lived with it.
I also began noticing that my headphone jacks were temperamental. It was difficult to get the headphones to properly connect and the USB port right next to the audio jacks didn't seem to work reliably.
All of this I was willing to ignore because the core functionality of the laptop worked and I didn't want to spend a lot of time on the phone with someone telling me to update drivers and reinstall the operating system.
This weekend I noticed that my laptop seemed to running very hot. I have a plastic ventilated tray for when I am not at a table, but even with that buffer the bottom of the laptop was uncomfortably hot. Last night it started dying. I don't mean crashing, locking up or blue screening. I would hear a pop and instantly the laptop was off as if it had completely lost power. I was able to boot it back up and use it for a while before it did the same thing again. I realized I was running some fairly intense software and checked out the temperatures only to realize that even under light load they were hovering around 170F at the GPU and 140F at the CPU.
Long story short, I spent some time in online chat with a support tech from India who, while very polite, was no help whatsoever. Even though he seemed to understand my issues his only suggestions were to perform updates or reinstall. I called phone support and managed to get someone in North America who identified that the issues I was having with my volume and wireless could be caused by the heat affecting the touch panel that controls those functions and authorized it for repair. Even after he decided the problem warranted repair he still had difficulty getting it through the system. At one point he explained, "They design these systems so it's as difficult as possible to authorize service."
I guess the moral of this rambling blog is, you get what you pay for, and Hewlett Packard has proven once again that they care more about their bottom line and giving the customer the runaround than providing a quality product/service. If it weren't for one abnormally helpful rep I probably would still be living with a flaky laptop rather than running their service maze.