The laptop saga (Part Two)

Once again, nothing to do with writing since I can’t write without a laptop. Apologies for the random rants, but I’m still very upset.

So I’m standing in PC World, suffering from jet-lag, sunstroke and clutching £840 worth of vouchers.

Why am I in PC World?

Because I’m trying to buy a new laptop.

Why am I jet-lagged?

Because I’ve just got back from Barbados.

Why am I suffering from sunstroke?

Because I’ve just got back from Barbados, pay attention.

What was I doing in Barbados?

Wishing I had a laptop … and some shade.

This is the laptop I want:


But they haven’t got it, no one in the country has got it and they aren’t going to have it ever again. The choice, therefore, are these second placers in the pretty laptop competition:

Samsung Q35 – £750 – ugly with a shitty plastic keyboard.


Philips X200 – £850 – what the fuck is that extendable neck about?


and the Philips X66 – £800 – ugly, but ever so tiny.


Oh, and there’s the gay version of the one I actually want:


But I really, really don’t want a pink laptop.

Normally I’m fairly decisive about these sorts of things. I see what I want I just get it; but not today. I’m exhausted, not having slept since a different time zone, and I’m shivering from the sunstroke. I’m ginger, I burn really bad and right now I look like an embarrassed lobster.

All I really want to do is throw up and go to sleep; but I also have a laptop shaped hole in my life and a pile of vouchers gripped in my sweaty, burnt hand. In my fevered state there is no tomorrow, I need a laptop, I need it now and I’m not leaving this shop until I get one.

Two hours later I’m still bouncing from point to point of my triangle of laptops. I just can’t make up my mind. I kind of like them, but they all have something wrong with them. I have to snap out of this, I’m getting odd looks from the staff and customers alike as I wander aimlessly from one laptop to the next, cherry red and shivering like a junkie.

Fuck it, decision time.

The X200 only is the prettiest and has a built in webcam, but it’s the most expensive and has this weird Rubik’s neck thing which makes it impossible to open and close. The thing is, I won’t be able to afford any of the other little bits I thought I could buy: a new printer, a couple of webcams, a new PC keyboard. Oh, and it’s only got 3 hours of battery life – that’s a deal breaker. If it says 3 hours, it will only give 2 and a half, which isn’t enough to get up to London and back. I need an actual battery life of 3 hours for it to be of any use. Anything less is a waste of money.

Ha! Down to a choice of two and it’s only taken me two hours!

The Philips x66 is ugly, but very tiny and … hmm – solo core thing. The others have duo core things. I have no idea what this means, but I’m not going to ask one of the hordes of employees who hide in the nearby aisles, mouths watering as they eye up my vouchers. I know from previous experience these guys tend to know less than me but will bullshit for England if it bags them a sale. My general rule of thumb is to go with the opposite of any recommendation they make.

I seem to remember someone banging on about Duo core stuff and how it’s going to be necessary in the future. That means the X66 is already on its way to being obsolete or something. Fuck it, I’m not having that one.

Which leaves the Samsung Q35, the one the insurance company wanted me to buy in the first place. The one I really, really hate the look of; but it’s the only one left …

Maybe I should look at the others again?

This goes on for another hour before I finally snap. I have this panic ordering system in restaurants. I like to glance at the menu and then put it to one side, when the waiter appears I snatch it up and order the first thing I see.

I’m going to do that. I’m going to find an employee and follow him back to the laptops, whichever one we stumble on first, that’s the one I’m going to buy.

I turn the corner and … THERE IT IS!

The perfect laptop, gleaming in its own shaft of light, surrounded by topless beauties who entice me to try out its slinky beauty whilst waving mint choc chip cornettos in my general direction.

I did mention I had sunstroke, yeah? That and the jet-lag have joined forces and I’ve just hit the hallucination stage.

Except, no. Wait a minute, the laptop is real. Holy shit! The laptop is real!


The Packard Bell BU45 – £600 and absolutely lovely. It’s light, it’s tiny it’s got a built in webcam and … oh my god, the words choke in my throat as a single tear trickles down my sunburnt cheek … it’s got a fingerprint scanner! A fucking fingerprint scanner!

I don’t have a fingerprint scanner, I don’t need a fingerprint scanner and I have no idea what use a fingerprint scanner is; but right now, what I want most in the world (apart from a bed and a family-sized tub of aftersun) is a fingerprint scanner. Specifically the one attached to the Packard Bell BU45.




At £600 I can get the laptop and the printer and the keyboard and the webcams … no, I only need one webcam … and some paper and … STILL have money left over for ink and paper throughout the rest of the year! Life is good!

I grab a salesman, shove my voucher in his hand and drag him around the store filling up a trolley.

“This, and this, and this and … ooh, this, I must have this!”

“That’s my shoe, sir.”

“Fuck you, I want it! I have a voucher!”

I left the shop half an hour later with a car boot full of electronic equipment.

Now, you shouldn’t drive when you’re tired. Driving while jet-lagged and delusional from sunstroke is really bad. Luckily I had Elvis and Pope John Paul II to keep me awake all the way home. In fact, Elvis did most of the driving.

I get home and all thought of bed is forgotten. A quick vomit and I’m tearing into the boxes, setting them up like a demonic … erm, demon who sets up electronic things.

The laptop is as beautiful as I’d hoped and it takes me the rest of the day to set it up. I get my files on board, my music, get all the settings the way I like them, just generally tinkering with it for the next seven hours or so.

And then it’s done. It’s perfect. I’ve even managed to secure all my files with the fingerprint security system.

I can’t remember which finger I used, but it can only be one of ten – won’t take me too long to work it out.

The webcams are set up, I’ve tested them by running up and down the stairs between the laptop and the PC and I’m fairly certain I managed to see myself at least once. I’m a happy, happy man. Finally, it’s time for bed.

At this point, I did something rather strange. Something I’m a little ashamed of and not really sure what I was thinking.

I unplugged the laptop with the intention of taking it to bed.

I was jet-lagged, honest. This is not normal behaviour on my part. I’m happily married with no desire to cheat on my wife with electronic equipment. Except that one time with the microwave, but that was different.

I unplug the laptop and it switches to battery power. The battery’s full and has been charging all day. This is as good as it is ever going to get:


WHAT!? No, it can’t be. 1 hour 30?

I sit and stare at the monitor as it counts down. Without even touching the keyboard, the battery dies in exactly one hour.

ONE HOUR! Without use! That equates to about forty minutes of typing. That means I can’t even get halfway to London without the fucking thing dying on me. It’s no use, none of it is, not even the fingerprint scanner. It may be pretty, but it won’t actually do what I bought it to do.

I thought I’d bought a sexy laptop, I haven’t. I’ve bought a very expensive paper weight.

( … to be concluded … )

Categories: Random Witterings | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “The laptop saga (Part Two)

  1. TonyB

    Oh dear!

    That’s no good at all. If you can return it within seven days you should be okay to change it. I’m a bit of a computer geek on the quiet so perhaps I can help?

    Did you look at the Toshiba range? Solid build, good battery life and not too heavy.

    The Toshiba A100-02L is available at the moment at a very good price at PC World: 499.99 web price and 529.99 in store.

    However, you can also order on line and then pick up in store, meaning that you could possibly pay with your vouchers when you collect the machine.

    The spec is overall better than the Packard Bell except it doesn’t have a built-in webcam or finger print reader, but it’s got a bigger hard drive and screen and much better battery life (3.4 hours). It’s heavier at 2.75 kg but this is ok for a portable machine. My old Sony Vaio was 2.9 kg and that was never a problem to carry around.

    You could also check out Acer and Compaq, both good brands.

    However, given your taste for the aesthetic I’m going to put temptation in your way! How about an Apple Macbook? If you were tempted to bed the Packard Bell you will be lost in a world of digital eroticism with the Apple 🙂

    Nice and light with great battery life – between three and five hours depending on what you’re doing with it and your settings.

    They now run on Intel chips and can run any Windows programme. The latest version of the Mac software comes with ‘Bootcamp’, which means you can load Windows on to the machine, along with all your Windows programmes, and then decide at boot up whether you run the Windows OS or the Mac.

    If you want to have Windows and Mac operating systems running together without the need to reboot then there’s an excellent programme called Parallels 3.0 available for 40.00.

    I’ve been using PCs for fifteen years but a year ago I bought an Apple G5 iMac so that I could run some Apple editing software. I was blown away! I can see why Mac users get so evangelical about their kit. It’s wonderful to use. I still have PCs out of necessity but I always prefer to tinker with the G5.

    If I was going to buy a laptop I would buy a Macbook – with the Intel chip inside there’s no reason not too. They all have built-in webcams too.

    The 2 Gb version, including DVD writer, is 749.97 at PC World. NB the entry level models do not have DVD writers (only CD writers).

    By the way, although the Vista-ready Windows laptops have one gigabyte of RAM installed this is actually the base requirement for Vista and you might well find the machine slower than one that runs Windows XP. If you can afford it I’d suggest 2 Gb RAM for Vista – that way everything speeds up, the processor works less hard and doesn’t drain the battery as much. Upgrading the RAM will cost something in the region of 60.00-80.00.

    At least with a MAC you know that everything is configured and balanced right from the off.

    I’ll be interested to see which machine you go for!

  2. TonyB

    PS if you do go for a MacBook you may as well just install Windows XP if you want to run Windows on it. No need for Vista – you’ll have a lovely operating system in the form of Mac OSX anyway. If you install Vista you’ll have the same RAM issues I mentioned in my previous post.

  3. Laptops, sir? Bleedin’ nightmare. Even when I’m not hungover and/or nauseous, I hate that aimless, tortured wander around PC World, trying to find the one with all the things you need. And you just know it’ll fuck up in six months anyway, and you won’t want to send it off to be fixed. You’re clearly a cleverer man than I, using home insurance…

    The last laptop I bought was a battleship of a thing. Made for media stuff, which is great at home. But when I have to lug it to Cardiff and back, or something, it does bad things to my neck, spine and stuff. It literally did die last summer, mere months after I bought it. Overheated. Paid £750 to have the hard drive saved (yes, I know, it’s fucking preposterous, but hey, tax-deductible), and simultaneously learnt that BACKING-UP IS GOD.

  4. Lizzy

    You poor man….I feel sorry for your plight…although it is cracking me up. Can you see the tears of laughter pouring out of my eyes? Still…honest..really sorry for your plight..evil evil laptops….
    ::laughing hysterically::

  5. Hey Phil

    Come on admit it, you know you should have bought the pink one !!!!!

  6. Mac, dood.

    But if you’re still hooked on the idea of a fingerprint scanner (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a fingerprint scanner?) how about this?

    Buy a spare battery.

  7. Tony: My two main requirements are size and battery life. The Toshiba is just too big for me to carry around, I need a 12 inch screen or thereabouts.

    I didn’t know you can run windows on a Mac, I’d glanced at the ones in store, but the lack of DVD writer put me off. Plus, at the time the Packard Bell seemed the better bet: cheaper, better equipped and smaller.

    This whole saga happened last weekend, it’s taken me this long to calm down and bring myself to tell the world. I’m still steeling myself for the final embarrassing revelations. By the time I’d found out the Packard Bell was a heap of shit, it was too late to opt for anything much more expensive – as will be explained in the next not-so-exciting installment.

    Jason: Backing up is indeed God. I’ve been caught with my pants down far too often by that demented Gremlin.

    Lizzy: At least my weekend of torture spread a little joy.

    Heather: I’ll admit no such thing.

    Piers: I thought of that, a spare battery is only £52 – but that still only gets me an hour and a half or so of useful typing time. I’d have to get four spare batteries in order to get the usage I want, which means co-ordinating recharge time and carrying all that extra weight.

  8. One word: Dell.

    My last two machines (one desktop, one laptop) have been Dells, they’ve been built to order and to a spec of my choosing, and neither has been sick a day in its life. The laptop is pushing two years old now, it needs another gig of RAM, and it has some slightly disturbing damage to one of the screen hinges, so I’m thinking I’ll replace it in the next few months. With another Dell.

  9. The snag there being the insurance voucher was only valid at PC World, Currys or Dixons and could only be used in store, not online.

  10. Danny K

    . . . I grab a salesman, shove my voucher in his hand and drag him around the store filling up a trolley.

    “This, and this, and this and … ooh, this, I must have this!”

    “That’s my shoe, sir.”

    “Fuck you, I want it! I have a voucher!” . . .

    Lol – REALLY LOLOUD! Tee hee!

    Time to admit it – Julian Clarey’s pink laptop has now got your name on it and it’s calling you – it’s calling out: “take me . . . take me . . . take me NOW”

    – Or use the vouchers for other stuff that catches your fancy and buy a Dell. Christine Patton is right, she’s done her research. I second her evaluation. For the past 10 years they’ve been in the top 3 positions for best buy, build, reliability etc., year after year. Oh apart from that year they all caught fire when used on the battery.

  11. I think if I blew the PC World vouchers on assorted gadgets and then spunked my own money on a laptop I’d be divorced by now.

  12. The Mac laptops have built in DVD writers too. I haven’t read part 3 of the saga yet, so it may be too late. But I’m with TonyB up there – the Macs will do everything you want.

  13. ginger

    Oh, Phill! I really feel for you…..what an experience……

    Although I have to admit, I am deriving a wicked pleasure reading about it. It’s giving me some good solid laughs (Schadenfreude, anyone?)

  14. Andy

    Try to swap it for the X66, it lasts for about 4 hours on a single charge and is actually a dual-core PC even though for some reason they stuck a single-core sticker on it!

  15. They stuck a single core sticker on a dual core machine?

    That’s really helpful.

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  18. Sony VAIO VGN-CS260J/P 14.1-Inch Laptop Pink
    First off, don’t buy it because its pretty. Yes I have it in pink but that was not the determining factor; I just love that I have the option. What the other reviewer is saying about the keyboard I don’t get because yeah the keys ARE spaced together but its a typical laptop keyboard but its comfortable to type on. The best part is all that gunk and funk don’t get stuck in between the keys but they aren’t so close together.

    Its fast, and has a lot of space although its still smart to back up your stuff so you don’t get screwed in case something does happen. The sound quality is great; I do voice over IP and there was no issue. Also, when I was working with the Blu-ray and other things it is great;the graphics and picture quality are amazing and the screen is just the right size. I watch Blu-ray’s, DVS’s and also download from Netflix to this computer and its perfect! The touch sensor AV control is a nice touch.

    For photos, I love that it has all the slots not just one. Especially because no one is getting pictures from me if I have to take that extra step of hooking a camera up to the computer to do it.

    Out of the box the battery setting comes out OPTIMIZED I recommend the Balanced setting or you be constantly recharging your battery. My only beef is windows vista which takes some time getting used to but is an easy transition. Also, word of warning scrap the Windows OneCare its crap and they are doing away with it because it performs so poorly yet Microsoft still allows people to purchase it. Save your money for Norton instead.

    Lastly,I’ve had this computer for over two months now and not a problem. This is my second Vaio the first which is over five years old and with my active duty husband aboard a US Navy submarine. And trust me he is not gentle with anything. These are NOT crap-made computers and last a good long time when you take care of them right. (p.s. I also buy a sqauretrade warranty to be on the safe side too). Buy it you won’t regret it.

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