Spring 2006: The battery dies on my Compaq Presario. Won't recharge. I call in a handful of favors from all the computer geeks I know and they tinker around with things. No luck. My laptop is now effectively a desktop.
Fall 2007: The hard drive dies on my cord-tethered Compaq. Just up and dies. Woke up one morning and pressed the "on" button and nothing happened. I take it into a shop and, for $300, get a new hard drive with 99% of my files restored. (Yes, I save copies of the most important files; but I didn't save copies of photos, music, etc.) It will take nearly two years before I pay the $300 off of my credit card.
Spring 2007: I finally pull together enough spare cash to buy a new battery for the Compy. Pop it in. My friend and I celebrate by taking the laptop out and watching a movie together, on the porch, free from cords or outlets. Halfway through the movie the screen goes black. Battery is dead. It never, ever recharges.
Summer 2007: Compy goes to India! It's during this period that the cord stops functioning properly; unless it is attached to the Compy at exactly the right angle, it won't provide electricity. I memorize the angle. Sometimes a small thing, like someone walking next to the table, will shake the cord out of position. Power out, laptop off. (I learn to hit ctrl-S after every paragraph.)
Fall 2007: I open up what I am now affectionately calling the "craptop" and discover that the screen has gone all pink and green. Everything that would be white in color has turned pink; everything that would be black is bright green, and the rest of the colors fall somewhere inbetween. After some wiggling I discover that the monitor will restore original colors if it is held at exactly the right angle. I memorize the angle.
Spring 2008: My lappy takes approximately 10 minutes to restart from sleep state and 20 minutes to restart from shutdown.
FEBRUARY 2009: I buy a new laptop. An Acer Extensa 4420. (Edit: the box and the receipt say Extensa 4420, but the computer inside is labeled Extensa 4630Z. Am hoping I got an unexpected upgrade.)
Having this Acer in my lap feels so weird, for three reasons:
- I'm running Vista.
- It isn't exactly the laptop I had planned to buy. I had planned to get the HP Netbook 1010 which was retailing for $299, but then I learned that the 1010 didn't have an ethernet port, and to use it I would need to buy a router ($50) and to use the router I would have to install the drivers which would require me to use the router's CD, but netbooks don't come with CD drives, so I would have to buy a CD/DVD attachment ($100)... and suddenly this tricked-out Acer is the more frugal choice. But... sigh... it isn't the cute choice. (I tell myself that buying an actual laptop instead of a netbook is better; that having a computer with a CD/DVD drive and actual memory and two cores is a good thing; but that friggin' netbook was ADORABLE in a Hello Kitty way and the Acer is just ordinary-looking.)
- Any time I spend more than, say, $100, all of my former starving-graduate-student alarm bells go off: Did you really need that? What if something happens and you don't have enough savings to cover the expense??? Never mind that I have plenty of money saved and this was a purchase that should have been made FOUR YEARS AGO.
And then there's the fourth reason. The uncomfortable feeling that, thanks to planned obsolescence, this will all happen again; I'll spend an evening or two going through the Compy, gmailing myself the best photos and documents and opening them up again on the Acer; I'll re-install Audacity and Paint.Net and ZSNES and Adobe and MS Office; I'll get used to Vista; and then, maybe in a year, the slow process of laptop death will start all over.
Sure, I say, this time around I'll treat the Acer right. I'll never touch the mousepad without first washing my hands. But I know it wasn't really because of finger residue that the battery, the cord, the hard drive, and the monitor all failed. It's because they were built to fail.
And so I can hardly be as thrilled about my new laptop as I was the first time I opened up my Compy.
But it's nice to have a machine that doesn't turn everything pink and green. ^__^