April 2, 2013


tempting but may void warrantyApril Fools Day was yesterday. Today I’ve got more problems with my Lenovo ThinkPads. I’ve learned and am now better prepared.

My ThinkPad W520 workstation hasn’t been the same since the two repairs last year. The fan keeps running loud and there’s heat even when I’m doing basic things like typing. The internal speakers no longer work (for the second time).

My backup ThinkPad X200 Tablet has a pricey 128 GB SSD that’s defective, according to Windows. (My Dell netbook also has a defective 32 GB SSD but I rarely use it.)

This morning, the W520 refused to start because of an error with some controller. Later, it did start but it’s no longer reliable. None of my computers are.

Data Loss

At least I don’t need to worry about data loss. My key files are in my 61 GB Dropbox (see review), which means I have synchronized copies and archived versions. I use cloud-based services regularly.

I've also got CrashPlan+ Unlimited which backs up to an external hard drive and an online archive (review on about.com, Apr 2013). I’ve got every version of every file available.

The issue is no longer data loss. The issue is reliability. That will require another computer. The problem is deciding which to get.

Which One?

Costco has the best basic warranty (2 years) and return policy (90 days) but the selection is limited. Best Buy, Future Shop and Staples offer more choice but still play the game of having sales instead of great prices everyday. Computer stores have better prices but seem to be tough on returns (might even have restocking fees). Online manufacturers Lenovo and Dell offer choice and customization … but also use the gimmick of sales and delivery takes time if you customize.

The Ideal

The ideal notebook computer would have these features (in no particular order):
  • lightweight
  • portable (e.g., 13” or 14” screen)
  • Windows 8 touchscreen (reduces the need for a tablet)
  • powerful processor (e.g., Intel Core i7)
  • lots of memory (minimum of 8 GB, upgradeable to 16 GB)
  • lots of high-speed storage (e.g., 1 TB at 7200 rpm)
  • all-day battery (e.g., 8 hours)
  • nonglare HD screen (900x1600 or 1080x1920)
  • 3 year onsite next-business-day repairs
  • VGA output (many projectors and monitors lack the newer HDMI inputs)
  • English (non-bilingual) keyboard
  • inexpensive
There’s no such choice.

Unless you order a customized computer, you’re stuck with compromises like a 1366x768 screen and a slow hard drive. If you order customized, your computer is a one-off. You wait for delivery and get a less reliable computer. According to a Lenovo repair shop, the most problems are with computers that are CTO (Customized To Order).

There are too many substandard choices … but I need to decide.

Your Clients

How do your clients (current and prospective) feel about what you offer? What’s simple or clear to you may confuse them. Rather than asking for your advice, they may decide to do nothing. Isn’t that a lose/lose?


PS What would you do if your computer became unreliable?

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