Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Computer Catastrophe

I'm afraid that my computer is on its last legs.  It still hobbles around from website to website, most of the time, but the mouse pad has failed, and the plug in mouse only works half the time, and the other day I had to restart the computer to get the keyboard to start working again, which makes me think that the hardware is failing, little by little.  Yesterday I managed to backup almost everything on it (all the pictures and documents made it onto the now nearly full drive).


After being a loyal Mac customer for years I'm afraid I'm going to have to go a different route, because at this point I really can't justify shelling out $2000 for a computer that's only going to die after three years (I know that's probably a long time for a lot of people, but we're a family who replaces their "free with the plan" cell phones every five years and so three years for a computer to die of hardware problems just doesn't feel all that long to me).

Don't get me wrong, I've loved my MacBooks, and hopefully someday, after Paul is done with law school and hopefully gainfully employed, I'll stroll back into an Apple store and make an appointment to buy a computer.  Unfortunately it's pretty clear that the computer that is managing to type these words right now, whose little mouse I've only unplugged and re-plugged in a dozen times this morning, isn't going to last that long.

So I'm going to break the promise I made to only buy Macs after a computer disaster, and start looking elsewhere.  You see, when I was living in Cape Town, I was working on a paper/ research project on women in sports that was worth nearly two classes worth of credits.  I'd interviewed people and done polls.  I'd researched and written nearly 100 single spaced pages.  And then my Dell died.

Technically it would still start up.  An acquaintance at the time, who worked in IT for Parliament, couldn't figure out what had happened.  The computer had just reset itself to its factory settings, and acted like it was brand new.  We contacted Dell who said it sounded like a software problem.  In fact, every company involved said it just wasn't there problem.

At the same time I had a friend whose Mac crashed.  He took it to the Apple store and it was rushed to LA and fixed within a week.

Three months and $500 later my computer was also up and running.

The experience pretty much sold me on Apples customer service, which we have been happy with over the years.

Alas (can you tell I'm being dramatic this morning over the loss of my computer? Yeah.  I know.  It's a bit over the top...), I think I'm going to have to take my chances and make sure that this time I back everything up frequently.

Does anyone have a reasonably priced computer brand/model that they love?  Has anyone tried just using a tablet instead of a computer (and can you plug a tablet into a good old fashioned keyboard, because I'm afraid not having a keyboard would drive me crazy?)?  And if you have any other laptop buying advice I'm open to suggestions... I'm really hoping that this little guy keeps working for a couple more months...


  1. tigerdirect.com for cheap stuff

    no can't plug in anything except power to ipad

    we have dell. desktops last 5 years; laptops 3. that's everybodys brand. after that you have problems. although i've heard that they are changing harddrive specs

    1 handed typing.

    source- hubby used to work on computers during college

  2. We're diehard Mac fans... wouldn't touch anything else.

    You might try looking in the Apple store online for a refurbished Mac; I got an 11" MacBook Air for $699 last November, and my daughter just got one for a bit more. They come with the same warranty, and you can buy AppleCare protection when that is up. Here's the link:http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

    Three years for a heavily used laptop is really pretty good.


  3. I know you can get a keyboard for an iPad, but I don't know if you can use an external drive with it to store photos (My pictures shut down my laptop if I store them on it and run iPhoto). I have a MacBook that is three or four years old (all I know is I've had it longer than I've been blogging which is a bit over three years now) and I don't think I could go back to using a Dell or any other windows based laptop. I've enjoyed not having any virus issues since getting the mac, but my MacBook is having issues with being able to print. My husband says it's a memory issue because it's essentially outdated now. His MacBook Pro which is around 4-4 1/2 years old is having issues similar to what you describe is happening to your MacBook. He says both or our macs need to be replaced, but that's easier said than done!

  4. my most important piece of advice is to find out if the back up disk is available- if you can wipe out the hard drive and reinstall if need be.

  5. Well, you could get the Mac mini from Apple, wherein you provide the hardware and it is just the "tower" (actually like a small box) that is made by Apple. It wouldn't be a laptop, though, so I don't know if you prefer a laptop. It's far cheaper than any of Apple's other products, however.

  6. I'm a huge Mac fan. My hubby bought me a Macbook Air for my birthday and I love it. He has a MacBook Pro and has had it for I think over 5 years now, and it's just starting to show some telltale issue signs (battery doesn't hold a charge very well, sometimes it shuts down by itself).

    If you are moving away from Apple though, I would try to avoid HP...I think they support nasty stuff.

    A tablet is nice if you don't mind the small screen, but if you're used to a 15" or a 17" monitor, then an 11" tablet may get real old, real annoying, real fast. I had an 11" tablet for awhile just after graduating college, and it was nice for some stuff but the screen was very small and it got annoying.

    Perhaps try ebay? You might find a computer there (if you go with a refurbished model you might save some $$ too). I used to work IT at a university (before getting married) and they had tons of Dell machines - they seemed to hold up very well under the heavy college-campus usage.

    I think the operating system you go with is also important - for instance I think Windows XP is WAY better than Windows 7.

    Just some thoughts!

  7. Well, you could get the Mac mini from Apple, wherein you provide the hardware and it is just the "tower" (actually like a small box) that is made by Apple. It wouldn't be a laptop, though, so I don't know if you prefer a laptop. It's far cheaper than any of Apple's other products, however.

  8. We like acer, but they do charge you the cost of shipping for repairs (ostensibly, to pass the saving onto you for the product). I don't worry about that though, since my hubby does computer repair.

  9. Did you have an Apple store look at your laptop to see if they could fix it? That would probably be cheaper than buying new, even if it is an expensive problem.

    I wouldn't recommend anything but Mac as Microsoft gives to PP (per that list you were talking about last year). Also, as you mentioned, not only does Apple have excellent customer service, they are generally a better, longer lasting product. I've had four PCs in the last 6 years. I wouldn't recommend a PC to anyone.

    After we found out about Microsoft and because of all the good things we heard about Apple, our latest purchase was a MacBook Pro. MY husband and I both love it. I would also look at the MacBook Air like others suggested or a refurbished MacBook.

  10. I have a toshiba laptop that set me back about $300 two years ago. It's been working great--the only issues I have had are from user error.

  11. I love my gateway. It lasted for 5 years, which was great. Try newegg.com. They always have great deals on computers.

  12. I second going to the Mac store and seeing what they say. My Macbook Pro died a couple of months ago, about 5 years old. For $300 they changed out something, but had said they would fix whatever they found. Way cheaper than a brand new computer, even a non-Mac computer.

    We have both in our house (Mac and Dell) and consistently the Macs are less of a problem then the Dells by a wide margin.

  13. Love my Dell Inspiron laptop. With my Verizon wireless access, it goes anywhere, and with wireless access to my printer I print from anywhere in the house.

    Yes, I've had my occasional problem, but my local geek store usually hit a few keys and fixed it for gratis.

    (let me know if you're interested in one; I can get you a discount)

  14. I love my little Toshiba Netbook...It is great for internet and photo Stuff (Shutterfly) But you can't do any CD rom stuff. Good luck.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!