After last week's rudeness at CC, they were ruled out. Office Despot also has a spotty track record, so it was BB.
Before I went, I scoped out laptops at several sites, especially ones around town, and decided that maybe I could land something for around a grand which had what I wanted:
- 1GB RAM
- Decent video
- 15" or more screen
- DVD writer
- Dual or 64-bit or fast 32-bit CPU
- less than 7 lbs.
- internal wireless G
- internal 100 bps (or better) LAN
- 80 GB hard drive (or more)
- Windows XP Pro would be nice
BB had a Sony VAIO which had everything except the CPU. I like Sony's laptops, even after doing QA on them for a year and a half. There also was an HP Pavilion which looked good, and it had an AMD 64-bit CPU.
So I hauled my dead machine to BB in Sunnyvale (it's a brand spankin' new store) and the nice man hemmed and hawed, said they would have to charge $24 for shipping, and then said he needed to talk to his manager. This is a man in his 40's, he wanted to make sure he gave me the right answer. After maybe 5 minutes he came back and said that on top of the shipping, they would charge $60 for a diagnostic fee, and then I'd get an estimate. That was bogus, considering Gateway will not only pay shipping, but they would also provide the box for that $300 flat fee.
The nice man said it would probably cost almost as much as a new machine if it was a motherboard replacement, which is usually a good guess, but not in the face of the $300 flat fee.
On the other hand, I had been planning to replace the laptop, it is just too heavy and has a fan which sounds like a wind tunnel when it comes on. Last week I had to carry it around a lot, typing with one hand and holding on my other arm - they don't have any desk-like surfaces in the server room. Much more of that and I would need to find Barry Bonds' trainer.
And I'm thinking, why spend $300 to fix a machine I'm going to replace soon anyway, why not use that $$ towards a new one? I can probably get a couple of hundred for the dead one on eBay, as long as I am honest about how dead it is. Someone could get a really nice machine for maybe $500 ($200 to me, $300 to Gateway).
So I went to the BB laptop section, and they had a very nice selection, well-displayed, listing all the things I needed to know to make my decision. I got everything I wanted except for XP Pro - in a Gateway. This makes my 3rd Gateway in a row. It comes with Windows Media Center Edition, which is sort of XP Home with benefits. It'll do just fine, I think. It was enough under $1k that with tax I was only about $40 over my ideal price, but $150 less than MSRP. The similar HP and Sony machines either had half the RAM or a 32-bit CPU. So what I have is a Gateway MX6450 and you can follow the link for the specs.
Interesting thing is this model is not on BB's web site. Maybe it's been reduced to make way for the next series.
There's a considerable feeling of having had a walletectomy here, but at least it wasn't entirely unplanned, and there was no sticker shock, since I'd already done the research.