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.
I’VE FOUND IT!
PEOPLE ARE STARING AT ME!
I’M TALKING OUT LOUD, AND PROBABLY HAVE BEEN FOR SEVERAL HOURS!
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:
BATTERY LIFE REMAINING: 1 HOUR 30
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 … )