Tag Archives: IBM/Lenovo

Motoring Technology

Hardware lineup for 2014

For the last few years, I’ve written a post about my “hardware lineup” – the tech I use pretty much every day (2011, 2012, and 2013). This year, Dan Delaney reminded me when he borrowed the idea (and I originally stole it from someone else…) so here’s the belated 2014 line-up…

Car: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Sport

I’m still enjoying my current company car even as it approaches its 2 year anniversary and am actively working to keep the mileage down as I may buy it at the end of the lease. Whilst I might be able to get a deal on a second hand Q7 or Toureg, this was specced up the way I wanted it  including a retractable towbar and I’m more than happy. Verdict 8/10. Hold (tied into a 3-year lease).

Phones: Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Windows Phone 7.8 was a disappointment and the lack of apps for the Windows Phone platform means I’ve gone back to iOS for my personal phone (second-hand from the SmartfoneStore), although I hope to jailbreak it to get some of the features that are missing for me in iOS 7. Meanwhile, my company iPhone 3GS has been replaced with an Android model (the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini), which is infuriating in many ways but at least lets me get experience of working with the other dominant mobile platform. (iPhone) Verdict 7/10. Hold – something new is too expensive. (Galaxy Mini) Verdict 5/10. Not mine to sell!

Tablet: Apple iPad 3G 64GB

Apple iPadMy iPad never replaced a laptop as a primary computer but it’s still great as a Kindle, for catching up on social media content, and for casual gaming (read, occasional babysitter and childrens’ amusement on long car journeys). I was disappointed to have to pay to replace it after the screen developed a fault, but there’s no reason to trade up yet, especially since we bought a touch PC for the family (read on). If anything, I might consider a smaller tablet (maybe a Google Nexus 7 or a Tesco Hudl). Verdict 5/10. Hold, although it’s getting old now.

Everyday PC: Fujitsu Lifebook P702 (Intel Core i5 3210M 2.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 320GB hard disk)

This PC is my main computing device and is a small form-factor replacement for the previous Lifebook I used.  I like it, but a BYOC scheme would be more likely to leave me buying a competitor’s PC. Just as well we only have CYOD! Verdict 7/10. Still hoping for a BYOC scheme at work but not holding my breath.

Family PC: Lenovo Flex 15 (Intel Core i5 4200U 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard disk)

Lenovo Flex 15When it eventually arrived, I set this PC up with Windows 8.1, Office 2013 and an account for everyone in the family.  It’s been a huge hit – the kids love it and I find it really useful to have a PC in the kitchen/family room.  I’m glad I held out for a touch screen – Windows 8 is so much better with Touch – but I should possibly have got something with a bit more memory… Verdict 8/10. A bit underpowered but a good balance between price and form factor.

Netbook: Lenovo S10e (Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard disk)

Lenovo IdeaPad S10Rarely taken out of the drawer – only used when I want to play with Linux (Ubuntu) or upload some new code to the Arduino. Verdict 2/10. Not worth selling, so keep for tech projects.

Digital Cameras: Nikon D700 and Coolpix P7100

Nikon D700Nikon P7100Although I’ve fallen out of love with photography, I’m sure I’ll get back on the wagon some time. A full-frame DSLR is still my favourite format and the D700 will be with me for a while yet. Indeed, it’s more likely that I would buy some new lenses and a flashgun before I replace my camera body.  Newer bodies offer video but I don’t miss that, and the low light performance on the D700 is pretty good. The P7100 continues to function as my carry-everywhere camera (it lives in the car), offering entry-level DSLR levels of control in a small package, although it’s not as responsive as I’d like and I increasingly tolerate using the iPhone instead (poor camera, but always with me). (D700) Verdict 9/10. Hold. (P7100) Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Photography PC: Apple MacBook MB062LL/B (Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard disk)

Apple Macbook White (late 2007)My MacBook is getting old and, although I upgraded to a 750GB disk, I’m struggling with disk space whilst 4GB of RAM is starting to feel a bit light for big Photoshop jobs but new Macs are expensive. Still too expensive to replace, but as long as I’m not doing much photography, this will last a while longer… Verdict 4/10. Hold.

Media: Samsung UE37ES6300 Smart TV

Samsung UE37ES6300Our late-2012 technology purchase, this replaced an aging (c1998) Sony Trinitron 32″ widescreen CRT and Internet-connected television is now an integral part of my family’s media consumption habit with my children watching more iPlayer content than live.  The software is a little “buggy” but it does the job – as a half decent TV it’s more than adequate and I’m thinking of getting a 22″ version for the den (when we build one…) Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Media: Apple Mac Mini MA206LL/A (Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard disk)

(+ iPad, iPhone 4S, various iPods, Altec Lansing iM7 iPod speakers, Samsung UE37ES6300) Apple Mac MiniNo change here since last year and I still haven’t re-ripped my CDs after the NAS failure a couple of years ago (although the Dell server I bought a few years ago has come out of retirement in preparation for that task). We bought a Yamaha PSR E-343 music keyboard for my son this Christmas so this PC may be brought back to life with Garage Band or as a media server as it takes up almost no space at all. Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Gaming: Microsoft Xbox 360 S 250GB with Kinect Sensor

Microsoft Xbox 360sI don’t play this as much as I should but my sons make more and more use of it, and bought me a copy of FIFA 2014 for Christmas, so the Xbox is starting to get a lot more use. No plans to replace it with a newer model though. Verdict 7/10. Hold.

Servers and Storage: Raspberry Pi, 2x Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, various USB HDDs

The Raspberry Pi has replaced my atom-based infrastructure PC, whilst one ReadyNAS is used to back up my work and the other has still not been recovered from its multiple disk failure a couple of years ago.  I still need to consolidate the various USB hard drives onto the  3GB Seagate Backup Plus Desktop drive and sort out the various cloud-based services that I use. (Raspberry Pi) Verdict 10/10. What’s not to like about a computer that costs just £25? (ReadyNAS Duo) Verdict 5/10. RAID failures mean I’ve lost confidence.

Other tech: Arduino Uno, Canon ImageFormula P-215 document scanner

I’m still occasionally playing around with electronics using an Arduino – although I need to do more with this. I’m also slowly regaining control over my filing using the document scanner (and it’s very cathartic shredding old documents!) (Arduino Uno) Verdict 10/10. Inexpensive, with loads of scope for electronic prototyping and a thriving community for support. (Canon P-215) Verdict 9/10. Impressive scanner, although a little on the expensive side.

Potential new toys: Nest learning thermostatLego Mindstorms

Just as last year, I still have my eyes on home automation and tech toys but budgets (and other hobbies) mean they are unlikely to become real for a while yet.  A smart watch is a possibility too… just waiting for the right one…

Technology

Lenovo found lacking with lost laptop

Even though I work in the application services business of a rival PC manufacturer, I’ve always had a soft spot for ThinkPads and Lenovo is (was) one of the quality PC brands I would recommend to friends and colleagues.  Until last week…

Our kids increasingly need to use a computer (a real one with a proper screen, so not a netbook – and not my iPad) for school work.  They can’t use my work PC (against policy) and for similar reasons we don’t really like them using my wife’s (again, it’s her business asset). Add to that the fact that some of the IT policies at work make it increasingly difficult for me to use my corporate laptop for anything (work-related or otherwise!) we decided that our Christmas present to ourselves will be a family computer.

Because a mouse will soon be to my kids what a command-line interface is to most of my peers (not including any IT admins or developers reading this blog), I wanted a touch-screen computer and I didn’t want to spend much over £500, which ruled out any ultrabook. Touchscreen requirement and modest budget means no Macs either.  Then I found Lenovo’s “affordable 15.6″ dual-mode notebook” – the Flex 15 – at a penny under £550 with the note that it “ships within 2-3 business days”. And the form factor means that, whilst a touchscreen desktop failed to pass spousal approval, a laptop that doubles up as a picture frame will quite happily sit in our kitchen/dining/family room without being considered unnecessary gadgetry.

I would have liked to customise the specification but that option wasn’t available so I placed an order for the stock version and it was duly processed by Lenovo’s UK reseller, Digital River (or analogue stream as I will now think of them…).

A couple of hours later I got a confirmation, which said:

“Dear Mark Wilson,

Thank you for ordering from the Lenovo Online Store powered by Digital River.

Please note, systems that are built to order can take 1 to 2 weeks to build and ship, plus 3 – 6 days for delivery.

Systems that are not built to order and were purchased with predefined specifications will ship within 2-3 business days.

Accessory options will typically ship within 2-3 business days and therefore may result in multiple deliveries when purchased with a system.

The following is a summary of your order. If you paid by credit card, please look for DRI*Lenovo on your credit card billing statement.”

[The bold text was added for emphasis by me]

A day or so later, I saw that a mouse I’d ordered for my son (he won’t need it but Mrs W insisted) had been shipped but no word on the PC. The shipping notes suggested the full value had been charged to my credit card (as it happens, only the cost of the mouse has been) but I called the number on the order confirmation email, navigated the IVR system and waited on hold before I was greeted, in German, by someone who doesn’t work on the Lenovo account. She suggested I should call back in 30 minutes as her colleague who does work with Lenovo was busy! I asked if they could call me instead and she took my details.  Surprise, surprise – no call.  Since then I’ve called twice more and each time have been told that they can’t provide an estimated shipping date but will escalate for me. Whatever that means, clearly it wasn’t done because the next time I called, I was told that “no ticket had been opened”.

In parallel, I’ve been communicating with the Lenovo UK social media team (@Lenovo_UK) who were helpful at first but then when I asked for progress told me to be patient, following up a few hours later to say they had tried to call (they did – twice, within two minutes, from a blocked number so I can’t call them back) and advising me that another team will send an email (they haven’t). Sorry guys – that’s not “trying”, that’s a pathetic attempt to contact me once before fobbing me off…

The Lenovo website says it ships in 2-3 days but the reseller (Digital River) don't know when it will shipThe thing is, I don’t mind if I’m told it’s on a ship from China (or wherever) and will take 2 weeks but the website still says “ships in 2-3 business days” and so does the order confirmation, yet the reseller doesn’t know when it will ship.  Which means I don’t know if it will ship.

Perhaps I’d be better off writing a letter to Father Christmas…

[Update, 25 November 2013 16:00 – I received a shipping confirmation from Digital River this afternoon.  Still not had the promised contact from Lenovo, or any explanation as to what caused the delay though]

Motoring Photography Technology

Hardware lineup for 2013

For the last couple of years, I’ve written a post about my “hardware lineup” – the tech I use pretty much every day (2011, 2012) and I thought I’d continue the theme as we enter 2013.

In these times of austerity, there’s not a lot of scope for new geek toys (some more camera lenses would be great, as would a new MacBook) but there’s no harm in a bit of aspiration, and it’s always interesting to take a look back and see how I thought things would work out and how that compares with reality.

So here’s the tech that I expect my life will revolve around this year…

Car: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Sport

My company car was replaced in April (a nice 40th birthday present) and the Volkswagen Tiguan I drive will be with me for at least 3 years. Whilst there are plenty of more capabile 4x4s and the space afforded by a 7-seater might be nice at times, “the Tig” has been great – my family all love the high riding position, my wife is happy swapping between this and her Golf (she should be – they are practically the same underneath the covers!) and, whilst I miss some of the refinement of my Audi, I get a lot more for my money with the Volkswagen.  Putting a retractable towbar on this car has created new possibilities too, allowing me to use a 4-bike towbar-attached carrier for family cycle trips.

Verdict 8/10. Hold (tied into a 3-year lease).

Phones: Nokia Lumia 800 and Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GSNokia Lumia 800My initial enthusiasm for the Nokia Lumia 800 waned considerably, after Microsoft announced its Windows Phone 8 plans and the handset lost 60% of its value overnight.  That means I won’t be trading it in for a new model any time soon and, depending on whether Windows Phone 7.8 ever makes it out of the door, I might consider looking at options to run Android on the (rather nice) hardware instead.  Still, at least we got an update a few months ago that, finally, enables Internet Sharing on Lumias (Windows Phone 7.5 supported this capability, but the Lumia 800 firmware did not).

I still have an iPhone 3GS provided by my employer (and my iPad) to fall back on when apps are not available for Windows Phone (i.e. most of the time) and, whilst I’m unlikely to get another smartphone from the company, I am considering a second-hand 4S to replace this as the 3GS is getting a bit long in the tooth now…

(Lumia) Verdict 5/10. Hold, under duress.
(iPhone) Verdict 3/10. Not mine to sell!

Tablet: Apple iPad 3G 64GB

Apple iPadMy iPad never replaced a laptop as a primary computer but it’s still great as a Kindle, for catching up on social media content, and for casual gaming (read, occasional babysitter and childrens’ amusement on long car journeys). I was disappointed to have to pay to replace it after the screen developed a fault, but there’s no reason to trade up yet and there’s still nothing that comes close to the iPad from a media tablet perspective (except newer iPads).

If anything, I might consider a smaller tablet (maybe a Google Nexus 7 or an Amazon Kindle Fire) but and Apple’s decision to stick with a 4:3 screen ratio on the iPad Mini means I have little interest in that form factor (it’s almost the same hardware as my current iPad, albeit in a smaller package). If I were to get a new tablet, it’s more likely to be something that could really be a laptop replacement – perhaps a Microsoft Surface Pro? We’ll see…

Verdict 7/10. Hold, although it’s getting old now.

Everyday PC: Fujitsu Lifebook S7220 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 160GB hard disk)

Fujitsu Lifebook S7220This PC is my main computing device. I’d love a ThinkPad, but the Lifebook is a perfectly capable, solid, well-built notebook PC, although I frequently find myself running out of memory with the number of tabs I have open in a typical browsing session! A recent hard disk failure meant my free space dropped (my 250GB drive was replaced with a 160GB one) but it’s due for replacement soon.

I’ll be looking for a smaller form-factor device to reduce the weight of my work-bag – at least until BYOC becomes a possibility (an ultrabook, Surface Pro, or a MacBook Air would be nice, but not available to me on the company’s catalogue).

Verdict 6/10. Unlikely to be with me for much longer now, although still hoping for a BYOC scheme at work.

Netbook: Lenovo S10e (Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard disk)

Lenovo IdeaPad S10Yet again, this device has hardly seen the light of day. Usurped by the iPad, it now runs Ubuntu and is only ever used for tech projects (e.g. uploading software to my Arduino). My kids have one too but even they are frustrated by the small screen and tend to use my wife’s notebook PC instead.

Verdict 2/10. Not worth selling, so keep for tech projects.

Digital Cameras: Nikon D700 and Coolpix P7100

Nikon D700Nikon P7100I still love my DSLR and the D700 will be with me for a while yet. Indeed, it’s more likely that I would buy some new lenses and a flashgun before I replace my camera body.  Newer bodies offer video but I don’t miss that, and the low light performance on the D700 is pretty good, even 2 years after launch.

The P7100 continues to function as my carry-everywhere camera (it lives in the car), offering entry-level DSLR levels of control in a small package, although it’s not as responsive as I’d like.

(D700) Verdict 9/10. Hold.
(P7100) Verdict 7/10. Hold.

Photography PC: Apple MacBook MB062LL/B (Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard disk)

Apple Macbook White (late 2007)My MacBook is getting old and, although I upgraded to a 750GB disk, I’m struggling with disk space whilst 4GB of RAM is starting to feel a bit light for big Photoshop jobs but new Macs are expensive.

Still too expensive to replace, I think this will last another year, at least…

Verdict 4/10. Hold.

Media: Samsung UE37ES6300 Smart TV

Samsung UE37ES6300My most recent technology purchase, this replaced an aging (c1998) Sony Trinitron 32″ widescreen CRT and has given us back a lot of space in the living room! I’ve been really impressed with the Smart TV functionality (more on that over the next few days) and Internet-connected television is now an integral part of my media consumption habit.

In time, it may be joined by a sound bar (to improve the experience when watching films) but at the moment the TV’s built in speakers will have to make do.

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Media: Apple Mac Mini MA206LL/A (Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard disk)

(+ iPad, Lumia 800, iPhone 3GS, various iPods, Altec Lansing iM7 iPod speakers, Samsung UE37ES6300)

Apple Mac MiniNo change here since last year – except for the addition of a Smart TV – and I still haven’t re-ripped my CDs after the NAS failure a couple of years ago. I still haven’t bought the music keyboard and this PC’s role as a multimedia PC for the office with Spotify, iPlayer, etc. has been replaced by a Smart TV in the living room.

It may not be the most powerful of my PCs but it may be brought back to life as a media server as it takes up almost no space at all.

Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Gaming: Microsoft Xbox 360 S 250GB with Kinect Sensor

Microsoft Xbox 360sI don’t play this as much as I should to make full use of it but the arrival of BBC iPlayer and the death of our DVD player promoted the Xbox to be our living room  media centre, at least until the Smart TV arrived (and the two still complement each other). My sons are reaching the age where they play games too now, so the Xbox is starting to get a lot more use.

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Servers and Storage: Atom-based PC, 2x Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, various USB HDDs

The Atom-based PC still provides infrastructure services for the home, whilst one ReadyNAS is used to back up my work and the other has still not been recovered from its multiple disk failure a couple of years ago. I recently bought a 3GB Seagate Backup Plus Desktop drive to replace an assortment of smaller USB hard disks and am preparing to supplement this with suitable cloud storage as we become more and more reliant on our digital assets.

Verdict 6/10. Hold.

New toys from 2012: Arduino Uno, Raspberry Pi, Canon ImageFormula P-215 document scanner

At the end of my 2012 post, I mentioned a few potential purchases and I did pick up one of the first Raspberry Pi computers, which is a fantastic hobby/educational machine to use with or without my children.  I also started to play around with electronics using an Arduino – which is great fun – and I hope to be doing more with both of them this year (more Raspberry Pi postsmore Arduino posts).

I’m slowly regaining control over my filing with the aid of a dedicated document scanner. It doesn’t matter to me that it’s portable, but the fast duplex scanning to PDF and multiple sheet handling (with very few mis-feeds) is a huge step forward compared with the all-in-one printer/scanner/copier I have in my home office.  Mine was an “Amazon Warehouse Deals” purchase (which saved me a few pounds) and the advertised condition suggested it may have a scratch or two but it seems to be in perfect condition to me. It will certainly be a big part of my push to digitise much of my paperwork this year.

(Raspberry Pi) Verdict 10/10. What’s not to like about a computer that costs just £25?
(Arduino Uno) Verdict 10/10. Inexpensive, with loads of scope for electronic prototyping and a thriving community for support.
(Canon P-215) Verdict 9/10. Impressive scanner, although a little on the expensive side.

Potential new toys: Nest learning thermostat, Romotive Robot, Lego Mindstorms

Of course, as a geek, I have my eye on a whole host of potential purchases and these were two that took my fancy in last year’s post, plus one more that I’ve had my eye on for a while (may be something for the kids to get and Dad to play with?).  In all honesty, I’m not sure that I’ll be buying much at all this year, but anything I do is likely to be in the general electronics, robotics and home automation field.

Motoring Photography Technology

Hardware lineup for 2012

Last year I wrote a post about my “hardware lineup” – i.e. the tech I use almost every day so I thought I should really do the same for 2012.  Much of it’s still the same but there are some changes – it will be interesting to take a look in retrospect next year and see how my plans for 2012 have worked out. So, here’s the tech that I expect my life will revolve around this year.

Car: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Sport

My company car is due for replacement in the spring and I’ve ordered a Volkswagen Tiguan to drive for the next 3 years. I really like the Audi A4 Avant that I drive at the moment but it’s recently had a lot of money spent on it (new clutch and major service costing over £2,500 – thankfully not paid by me) and I’m not sure that a three-year-old car with 60,000 miles on the clock is  worth the money the lease company wants for me to take it on…

Due to price increases, another A4 with the same spec will cost me quite a lot more each month and, whilst the Tiguan is a little smaller, it’s also more practical (I looked at the Q3 too – but it’s “fugly”, overpriced and there is limited engine choice at the moment). With my growing family the addition of a towbar should allow me to take 4 bikes around on a carrier without scratching the car too.

Verdict who knows – it’s not been delivered yet!

Phones: Nokia Lumia 800 and Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GSNokia Lumia 800I recently joined the 1.5% and jumped into the Windows Phone market. I like it – and want the platform to succeed – but really feel Microsoft has a long way to go. Thankfully I still have an iPhone 3GS provided by my employer (and my iPad) to fall back on when apps are not available or when the Lumia is just too infuriating…

It was a risk buying the Nokia Lumia but the hardware is lovely, the software will improve, and it was a major investment so, realistically, it’s likely to remain with me for the next 2 years! Meanwhile, I’m still hoping to get myself an iPhone 4 or 4S to replace the 3GS but the chances are best described as slim.

(Lumia) Verdict 7/10. Hold.
(iPhone) Verdict 3/10. Not mine to sell!

Tablet: Apple iPad 3G 64GB

Apple iPadNo change here – the iPad is my media tablet of choice and no-one else even comes close. I may be tempted by an Amazon Fire or the new (rumoured) baby iPad but at the time of writing this device is still great for occasional surfing, a bit of TV catchup, and social media on the move.  It’s also great for the kids to play games and catch up on vital episodes of childrens’ television programmes that they missed (using BBC iPlayer)!

Verdict 8/10. Hold.

Everyday PC: Fujitsu Lifebook S7220 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB hard disk)

Fujitsu Lifebook S7220I’m still hoping for a BYOC scheme at work, but this PC is my main computing device. I’d love a ThinkPad, but the Lifebook is a perfectly capable, solid, well-built notebook PC, although I frequently find myself running out of memory with the number of tabs I have open in a typical browsing session!

When it comes up for replacement, I’ll see if I can blag something smaller (really need to be a grade more senior for that) and reduce the weight of my work-bag…

Verdict 6/10. Holding out for a BYOC scheme at work.

Netbook: Lenovo S10e (Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard disk)

Lenovo IdeaPad S10Netbook, schmetbook. I hardly used this in 2011. I did install Ubuntu 11.04 on it and have a couple of blog posts to write before I use it to play with Windows 8. I bought the S10e for Windows 7 testing 3 years ago so it owes me nothing but the netbook form factor has been usurped by tablets and low-cost notebooks. My kids have one too but even they are frustrated by the small screen and tend to use my wife’s notebook PC instead

Verdict 2/10. Not worth selling, so keep for tech projects.

Digital Cameras: Nikon D700 and Coolpix P7100

Nikon D700Nikon P7100I still love my DSLR and the D700 will be with me for a while yet. Indeed, it’s more likely that I would buy some new lenses and a flashgun before I replace my camera body.

The P7100 joined me this year as a device to carry everywhere and it’s been pretty good, offering entry-level DSLR levels of control in a small package, although it’s not as responsive as I’d like.

(D700) Verdict 9/10. Hold.
(P7100) Verdict 7/10. Hold.

Photography PC: Apple MacBook MB062LL/B (Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard disk)

Apple Macbook White (late 2007)This MacBook needs to last a while longer before I can justify its replacement but I did upgrade the hard disk in 2011 and it may get another upgrade this year. 4GB of RAM is starting to feel a bit light for big Photoshop jobs but new Macs are expensive. I’d better get saving for something new in 2013…

Verdict 5/10. Hold.

Media: Apple Mac Mini MA206LL/A (Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard disk)

(+ iPad, Lumia 800, iPhone 3GS, various iPods, Altec Lansing iM7 iPod speakers)

Apple Mac MiniNo change here since last year – although both disks in one of my NASs failed and I need to re-rip my CDs for my music library (iTunes had already done a good job of mangling it). I still haven’t bought the music keyboard (maybe this year) but it’s lasting well as my multimedia PC for the office with Spotify, iPlayer, etc.

It may not be the most powerful of my PCs, but it’s more than up to this kind of work and it takes up almost no space at all.

Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Gaming: Microsoft Xbox 360 S 250GB with Kinect Sensor

Microsoft Xbox 360sI don’t play this as much as I should to make full use of it (although I am enjoying my latest purchase: Lego Pirates of the Caribbean). Hopefully the next few months will finally see iPlayer land on the Xbox at which point it will become a really useful media centre for the living room (it works with my aging SD TV).

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Servers and Storage: Atom-based PC, 2x Netgear ReadyNAS Duo

My Dell PowerEdge 840 has been retired to save energy (although it could still be wheeled out for any virtual machine workloads to test infrastructure scenarios) and, as I already mentioned, one of my ReadyNASs has suffered a multiple disk failure (waiting for me to sort out some warranty replacement disks) but, once recovered, these machines will remain as the mainstay of my computing infrastructure. Cloud storage for my photos is still too expensive so I’m likely to add another NAS at a family member’s house to maintain an off-site backup.

Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Potential new toys: Nest learning thermostat, Romotive Robot, Raspberry Pi

These have taken my fancy and I’m seriously considering them all in 2012. Only time will tell what I buy (and when) but I’m sure you’ll hear about my exploits on the blog!

Motoring Photography Technology

Hardware lineup for 2011

This is a bit of a copycat post really but I saw Mike Taulty and Phil Winstanley‘s hardware lineups and thought it was a good idea. So, here it is, a summary of the technology I use pretty much every day and how I see that changing this year.

Car: Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI 170 S-Line

Audi A4 Avant 20 TDI 170 S-LineMy wife and I have been Volkswagen fans for a few years now (we find them to be good, solid, reliable cars that hold their value well) so, a couple of years ago, when I heard that Volkswagen and Audi were being added to our company car scheme, I held back on replacing my previous vehicle in order to take advantage. I did consider getting a Passat but the A4 (although smaller) had a newer generation of engine and lower emissions, so it didn’t actually cost much more in tax/monthly lease costs.

After a year or so, I’m normally bored/infuriated with my company cars but I still really enjoy my A4 – so much so that I will consider purchasing this one at the end of its lease next year. My only reservations are that I would really like something larger, sometimes a little more power would be nice (although this has 170PS, which is pretty good for a 2 litre diesel) and I do sometimes think that the money I contribute to the car might be better spent on reducing the mortgage (I add some of my salary to lease a better car than my grade entitles me to).

Either way, it’s on lease until I hit 3 years or 60,000 miles, so it’s a keeper for 2011.

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Phone: Apple iPhone 3GS 16GB

Apple iPhone 3GSI actually have two phones (personal and work SIMs) but my personal needs are pretty basic (a feature phone with Bluetooth connectivity for hands free operation in the car) and I recycled my iPhone 3G when I was given a 3GS to use for work.

After having owned iPhones for a few years now (this is my third one), I don’t feel that the platform, which was once revolutionary, has kept pace and it now feels dated. As a result, I’m tempted by an Android or Windows Phone 7 device but neither of these platforms is currently supported for connection my corporate e-mail service.

The main advantages of this device for me are the apps and the Bluetooth connectivity to the car (although I needed to buy a cable for media access). I use Spotify and Runkeeper when I’m running but there are a whole host of apps to help me when I’m out and about with work (National Rail Enquiries, etc.) and, of course, it lets me triage my bulging mailbox and manage my calendar when I’m on the move. Unfortunately, the camera is awful and it’s not much use as a phone either, but it does the job.

I could get an iPhone 4 (or 5 this summer?) but I’d say it’s pretty unlikely, unless something happened to this one and I was forced to replace it.

Verdict 3/10. Not mine to sell!

Tablet: Apple iPad 3G 64GB

Apple iPadAfter several weeks (maybe months) of thinking “do I? don’t I?”, I bought an iPad last year and I use it extensively. Perhaps it’s a bit worrying that I take it to bed with me at night (I often catch up on Twitter before going to sleep, or use it as an e-book reader) but the “instant on” and long battery life make this device stand out from the competition when I’m out and about.

2011 will be an interesting year for tablets – at CES they were all over the place but I’ve been pretty vocal (both on this blog, and on Twitter) about my views on Windows as a tablet operating system and many of the Android devices are lacking something – Android 3 (Gingerbread [correction] Honeycomb) should change that. One possible alternative is Lenovo’s convertible notebook/tablet which runs Windows but features a slide out screen that functions as an Android tablet (very innovative).

I may upgrade to an iPad 2, if I can get a good resale price for my first generation iPad, but even Apple’s puritanical anti-Adobe Flash stand (which means many websites are unavailable to me) is not enough to make me move away from this device in 2011.

Verdict 8/10. Hold.

Everyday PC: Fujitsu Lifebook S7220 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB hard disk)

Fujitsu Lifebook S7220My personal preference for notebook PCs is a ThinkPad – I liked them when they were manufactured by IBM and Lenovo seem to have retained the overall quality associated with the brand – but, given who pays my salary, it’s no surprise that I use a Fujitsu notebook PC. Mine’s a couple of years old now and so it’s branded Fujitsu-Siemens but it’s the same model that was sold under the Fujitsu name outside Europe. It’s a solid, well-built notebook PC and I have enough CPU, memory and disk to run Windows 7 (x64) well.

Unfortunately it’s crippled with some awful full disk encryption software (I won’t name the vendor but I’d rather be using the built-in BitLocker capabilities which I feel are better integrated and less obtrusive) and, even though the chipset supports Intel vPro/AMT (to install the Citrix XenClient hypervisor), the BIOS won’t allow me to activate the VT-d features. As a result, I have to run separate machines for some of my technical testing (I’m doing far less of that at work anyway these days) and to meet my personal (i.e. non-work) computing requirements.

My hope is that we’ll introduce a bring your own computer (BYOC) scheme at work and I can rationalise things but, if not, it’ll be another two years before I can order a replacement and this will soldier on for a while yet.

Verdict 6/10. Holding out for a BYOC scheme at work.

Netbook: Lenovo S10e (Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard disk)

Lenovo IdeaPad S10In its day, my netbook was great. It’s small, light, can be used on the train when the seatback tables are too small for a normal laptop and I used mine extensively for personal computing whilst working away from home. It was a bit slow (on file transfers) but it does the job – and the small keyboard is ideal for my young children (although even they could do with a larger screen resolution).

Nowadays my netbook it sits on the shelf, unloved, replaced by my iPad. It was inexpensive and, ultimately, consumable.

Verdict 2/10. Sell, or more likely use it to geek out and play with Linux.

Digital Camera: Nikon D700

Nikon D700After a series of Minoltas in the 1980s and 1990s, I’ve had Nikon cameras for several years now, having owned an F90x, a D70 and now a D700. I also use my wife’s D40 from time to time and we have a Canon Ixus 70 too (my son has adopted that). With a sizeable investment in Nikon lenses, etc., I can’t see myself changing brands again – although some of my glass could do with an upgrade, and I’d like an external flash unit.

The D700 gives me a lot of flexibility and has a high enough pixel count, with minimal noise and good low-light performance. It’s a professional-grade DSLR and a bit heavy for some people (I like the weight). It’s also too valuable for some trips (which is when I use the D40) but I always miss the flexibility and functionality that the D700 body provides. Maybe sometimes I think some video capabilities would be nice but I won’t be changing it yet.

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Photography PC: Apple MacBook MB062LL/B (Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard disk)

Apple Macbook White (late 2007)It’s been three years since I bought my MacBook and, much as I’d like one of the current range of MacBook Pros it’ll be a while before I replace it because they are so expensive! In fairness, it’s doing it’s job well – as soon as I bought it I ungraded the hard disk and memory, and whilst the the CPU is nt as fast as a modern Core i5 or i7, it’s not that slow either.

For a machine that was not exactly inexpensive, I’ve been disappointed with the build quality (it’s had two new keyboard top covers and a replacement battery) but Apple’s customer service meant that all were replaced under warranty (I wouldn’t fancy my chances at getting a new battery from many other PC OEMs).

I use this machine exclusively for photography and the Mac OS suits me well for this. It’s not “better” than Windows, just “different” and, whilst some people would consider me to be a Microsoft fanboi and an iHater, the list of kit on this page might say otherwise. I like to consider myself to have objective views that cut through the Redmond or Cupertino rhetoric!

So, back to the Mac – I may dive into Photoshop from time to time but Adobe Lightroom, Flickr Uploadr, VueScan and a few specialist utilities like Sofortbild are my main tools. I need to sweat this asset for a while longer before I can replace it.

Verdict 5/10. Hold.

Media: Apple Mac Mini MA206LL/A (Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard disk)

(+ iPad, iPhone 3GS, various iPods, Altec Lansing iM7 iPod speakers)

Apple Mac MiniMy Mac Mini was the first Intel Mac I bought (I had one of the original iMacs but that’s long gone) and it’s proved to be a great little machine. It was replaced by the MacBook but has variously been used in Windows and Mac OS X forms as a home media PC. These days it’s just used for iTunes and Spotify, but I plan to buy a keyboard to have a play with Garage Band too.

It may not be the most powerful of my PCs, but it’s more than up to this kind of work and it takes up almost no space at all.

Verdict 6/10. Hold.

Gaming: Microsoft Xbox 360 S 250GB with Kinect Sensor

Microsoft Xbox 360sI’m not a gamer – I sold my Playstation a few years ago because the driving games that I enjoyed made me feel ill! Even so, I was blown away by the Xbox with Kinect when I saw it last month. I bought myself a 250GB model and now Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports have become family favourites (with a bit of Dance Central thrown in!). I can’t see myself getting into first person shooters, but I can see us doing more and more with the Xbox, particularly if I can use the Connect 360 application to hook into my media library. The final piece of the jigsaw would be BBC iPlayer on Xbox – but that looks unlikely to come to fruition.

Verdict 9/10. Hold.

Servers and Storage: Atom-based PC, Dell PowerEdge 840, 2x Netgear ReadyNAS Duo

As my work becomes less technical, I no longer run a full network infrastructure at home (I don’t find myself building quite so many virtual machines either) so I moved the main infrastructure roles (Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, TFTP, etc.) to a low-power server based on an Intel Atom CPU. I still have my PowerEdge 840 for the occasions when I do need to run up a test environment but it’s really just gathering dust. Storage is provided by a couple of Netgear ReadyNAS devices and it’s likely that I’ll upgrade the disks and then move one to a family member’s house, remote syncing to provide an off-site backup solution (instead of a variety of external USB drives).

Verdict 6/10. Hold (perhaps sell the server, but more likely to leave it under the desk…).

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Windows 7 RTM running on my netbook

Last year I blogged about the Lenovo S10e that I bought to test Windows 7. I ran the netbook with Mac OS X for a while but the Hackintosh is no more. Today, the new Akamai download links for “top downloads” delivered the Windows 7 RTM bits to me in just over an hour (my first attempt direct from TechNet had slowed to a crawl overnight) and I installed Windows 7 Ultimate Edition on my netbook in about 15-20 minutes, although I didn’t actually time it.

Ultimate? Yes, Starter is too restrictive (no multi-monitor support – e.g. when presenting), I want to join a domain (so I need at least Professional), and it’s a mobile device, so I intend to use features like BitLocker (for which Ultimate or Enterprise Edition is required) – incidentally, the information I used for the Windows 7 feature comparison is on Dan Delaney’s blog (although it’s slightly out of date as the 3-app restriction on Starter edition was dropped a whole back). Of course, getting a free copy from Microsoft is always a bonus!

Installation was smooth, fast, and uneventful – as the best installs should be. Only one device was banged out in Device Manager – ACPI\VPC2004, which turns out to be a Lenovo Energy Management Driver, for which the Vista driver for the Lenovo IdeaPad Y710 can be used.

DVD drive is bigger than the netbook!One thing that made me chuckle as I installed this was my DVD drive. This was a bargain picked up a few months ago (and unused until today) but is bigger than the netbook I was installing onto (it has an external power supply too that’s not even shown in the picture!).

I could have installed Windows from an external hard drive or USB flash drive but, even with tools to assist with USB boot drive creation, DVD was the fastest route.

Next up, I’ll try upgrading the x64 notebook that I use for work (I know it’s not supported, but I have to try it!) before I nuke that next week and apply an image using the Microsoft Deployment toolkit. I’m sure I have better things to be doing but playing with technology is far more fun.

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Lenovo’s IdeaPad S10e is exactly what I’d hoped for

If this blog post is full of typos it’s because I’m conducting an experiment.  I’m trying to see if I can type an entire post on an 85% keyboard without making an unacceptable number of mistakes… and then I’ll tell you if the keyboard on my Lenovo S10e is any good.

Readers may recall that, just over a week ago, I was very excited at the prospect of the imminent arrival opf my new toy – my Christmas present to myself.  Some of you even indicated that you’d like to know how I get on with my new netbook and, I have to say, I’m pretty impressed.

Let’s get one thing straight – a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU is not going yto blowe you away with blinding performance – but then consider something else (wehich my friend and colleague Dave Saxon pointed out) – this machine is not designed for content creation and is really intended for content consumption.  Eben so, I reckon it will be the machine that I use for knocking out most of my blog posts for a while.

OK.  Keyboard experiment over… I will correct any typos from now on but, bearing in mind I’m a 16-and-a-half-stone (230lb/105kg) guy who stopped growing before he got to 6 foot tall (i.e. a fat bloke) with podgy fingers, I’m quite happy that I managed to type three paragraphs with only five mistakes (I’d probably have made a couple on a full-sized keyboard).  Like I said, this machine is not designed for content creation but as a half-way-house between a fully mobile (PDA/smartphone) device and a standard notebook PC.  Comparing the keyboard on my Lenovo S10e with some of the other 10” netbooks the 1 is a little too far to the left (so I keep hitting 2) and some others manage a full row of 12 function keys (the Lenovo only has 11 – requiring a Fn+F11 combination to get F12).  Based on looks alone, the Samsung NC10 seems to have a better keyboard – it’s a pity it’s such an ugly machine.

Which nicely leads me into the topics of aesthetics and build quality.  Apple PCs are often held up as examples of design excellence and, when asked about the increasing number of netbooks sold, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is quoted as having said:

“We don’t know how to produce a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk”

[Steve Jobs, October 2008]

He’s probably right – after all, my Apple MacBook is not as well built as I would like and it cost me around £800 (it’s not quite a $1000 piece of crap – but it’s certainly not as good as it should be).  So, if Apple can’t even get a premium-priced notebook PC right, they have no chance with anything at this end of the market.  On the other hand, Lenovo have managed to build a good looking little PC for around the $500 mark (mine cost £292.25, including 15% sales tax) and before I got my hands on it I said that I hoped Lenovo had continued the build quality that previous IBM ThinkPads displayed – I’m pleased to say that the S10e does not disappoint. The one criticism that I have is that the back of the screen appears to be constructed from a single, thin sheet and it does flex if pushed.

The one thing that lets the S10e down is battery life.  In fairness I haven’t run a full charge cycle on my battery yet (so it’s not fully conditioned) but Windows’ prediction of 4 hours and 13 minutes from a fully-charged battery is wildly optimistic – I reckon I’ll be lucky to get three although I am using the WiFi connection.  If this becomes a problem then a 6-cell battery is available – I haven’t found a UK price yet but at least one site is selling them for less than $80.

Some people have criticised the Lenovo for running hot – mine’s been charging on the desk for the last few hours and admittedly it is a bit warm but nothing compared to my Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook S7210, which is quite an effective electric fan heater, or my Apple MacBook, which regularly reports internal temperatures of 70-80 degrees.

My S10e was supplied with 1GB of RAM (512MB fixed and another 512MB of DDR2 PC2-5300 RAM).  For the type of work that this machine is designed for, that should be plenty and I’ve not seen any evidence of excessive paging with a few Internet Explorer tabs, a couple of command prompts, a few Explorer windows and Windows Live Writer running.  Running some Office applications might start to push the envelope slightly though. I can’t comment on how well it works with Windows 7 (I’ll write more as soon as I’m freed from NDA restrictions but Paul Thurrott has reported that there will be a public beta next month so hopefully it won’t be too long), in the meantime I’ll just quote CNet’s Brooke Crothers, who wrote that:

“[Microsoft said that] Windows 7 will run on 1GB of memory and 16GB of (solid-state drive) storage. Higher-end Netbooks will have a 160GB hard disk drive, according to Microsoft ‘guidance.’”

And who am I to argue with CNet?

Even if 1GB is not enough to run 7 on this hardware, there are reports that a 2GB SODIMM can be installed to take the total to 2.5GB (of which 2GB will be addressable).  In addition, for those who are running Windows Vista or later, a USB flash drive or SD card can be used with ReadyBoost to improve system responsiveness.

On the expandability front, it’s a bit of a shame that the SD slot leaves the card sticking out (especially as I have a card in there all the time for ReadyBoost) and it’s the same with the PC Express Card slot but these are still valuable capabilities (most netbooks have media cards readers but few offer a PC Express Card slot).

So, onto the million dollar question – is a netbook actually of any practical use or is it too big a compromise?  To answer that, I’ll refer to my previous point – this device is for content consumption not content creation – and for web browsing, streaming a bit of TV from the BBC website, catching up on e-mail, RSS feeds, etc., a netbook is fine.  TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington wrote that there are three reasons why netbooks are not good enough and I cannot agree at all.  Arrington contests that:

“They’re underpowered as PCs, the screen is too small for web surfing, and the keyboard is so small that effective typing is impossible.”

Underpowered?  Well, you’re not going to be doing media compression on one of these but it’s more than adequate for the purposes I described above.

Screen too small for web surfing? 1024×576 is a little shallow but it works on most sites – there’s the odd dialog box that causes an issue (poor UI design) but it’s easy enough to adjust the font size to read a bit more on a web page (Ctrl+-)and, as Liliputing wrote in their response:

“[Arrington] points out that you can only read the first 8 lines of an article on his web site when using a netbook, while you can see the first 22 lines using the iPhone web browser. But you know what? The iPhone doesn’t have a higher resolution display than a netbook, it just has a different web browser. This is a software issue, not a hardware issue”

(I’d also add that TechCrunch takes up a huge amount of space above the fold with ads and navigation…)

As for the keyboard?  I’ve already proved that, whilst it’s not ideal, it is usable – it may not be great for writing huge documents or knocking out code but it’s fine for leaving the odd comment on a website or responding to e-mail.

Whilst slightly larger alternatives such as the Dell Mini 12 offer a much better specification (closer to a notebook than to a netbook), the whole point of this purchase (for me) was a small, lightweight package – so a 10” model was about my limit.  Sure, there are some compromises (like the keyboard and the 576px display depth) but this netbook is everything I wanted it to be.  For less than £300, the Lenovo S10e is fantastic value – better built than the Acer/Asus netbooks, more fully-featured than the Dell Mini 9, and better looking than the Samsung NC10.  I’m pleased to say that I have absolutely no regrets about this particular purchase.

For more information, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad S Series Forums.

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Why Lenovo’s S10 seemed like a good idea(pad) to me

I try to keep my work and home life on different computers. It doesn’t always work, but that’s the idea anyway. The problem I find is that, every time I’m away from home (which is when I get most of my blogging done), I find myself carrying around two laptops and, even without any peripherals (power adapters, etc.), that’s 4.5kg of luggage. Any sensible person would use an external hard disk for one of the workloads but… there you go…

Lenovo IdeaPad S10I’ve been watching developments with small form-factor PCs (so called “NetBooks”) for a while now and over the weekend I took the plunge. Tomorrow morning I’m expecting a delivery of a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 to slip in my bag alongside the Fujitsu-Siemens S7210 that I use for work.

So why did I choose the Lenovo?

  • In terms of build quality, my IBM ThinkPad is by far and away the best notebook PC I’ve ever had (better than the various Toshiba, Compaq, Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens units I’ve used – and certainly better than my Apple MacBook) – I’m hoping that Lenovo have continued that quality as they’ve taken on the former IBM PC business (the reviews I’ve read certainly indicate that they have).
  • I want to use this NetBook with Windows 7 – and I know it can work (this is the model that Steven Sinofsky showed in a keynote at Microsoft’s 2008 Professional Developers Conference).
  • I was impressed with Windows 7 running on Paul Foster’s Acer Aspire One, but the keyboard is just too small for my fat fingers.
  • The Lenovo S10 has a PC Express Card slot (so it should work with my Vodafone 3G card – and yes, I know I can get a USB version but I’d need to convince my employers of the need for an upgrade, which would not be an easy sell when they give me a perfectly good laptop with a PC Express Card slot to use…).
  • I also seriously considered the Dell Mini 9 (especially when they mis-priced it on their website for £99 last week – incidentally, the resulting orders were not fulfilled) but I’m not convinced that using a pre-release operating system on a solid state hard drive is really a good idea – I could easily kill the drive within a few months. Meanwhile, the Lenovo has a traditional 160GB hard disk and the 10.2″ screen (rather than 9″) translates into more space for a larger keyboard without noticeably increasing the size of the computer (for those who still want a 9″ model, Lenovo have announced an S9 but I’ve seen no sign of it in the UK yet). Another option that I discounted was the Samsung NC10 – which has a better battery and one more USB port but no PC Express Card slot.
  • The equivalent Asus and Acer models may be less expensive but the big names (IBM, Dell, HP as well as Samsung and Toshiba) are all reducing their prices – and by waiting for the reduction in the UK’s VAT rate to take effect the price was £292.25 for the S10 at eBuyer with free shipping (although I paid another tenner for next-day delivery).

I’m sure my sons will be amused when yet another computer appears on my desk (my wife may be slightly less so…) but I’m thinking of this as an early Christmas present to myself…

Further reading

Here are some of the posts that I found useful before deciding to buy this PC:

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The no-compromise ultraportable?

As the day job has been taking over my life (reducing my time for blogging), I thought I’d finish up the week with some light-hearted humour. I’ve commented before that I think Apple’s MacBook Air ultraportable PC is overpriced and underspecced. And whilst it may be selling to the Apple fanboys and those execs with more money than sense it’s not really much use for people who really need a light PC to travel with for their work (in my opinion, as someone who travels a lot, and uses standard notebook PCs – although, sadly, my employer won’t give me a ThinkPad either). Not wanting to start up the Mac vs. PC rubbish (I’ve been there before), I thought I’d post Lenovo’s view on what an ultraportable PC should be like:

This video has been floating around the web for a few days now, and some of the responses I’ve seen have been along the lines of “Yeah, but the MacBook Air does everything I need without needing to plug anything in”. Right. Of course it does. Well, if the MacBook Air is good for you, then all I have to say is “good for you”. Personally, I’ll take the ThinkPad. And if Vista is too much of a compromise (I don’t think it is) then I’ll take a normal Apple MacBook (mine is running OS X and Vista).

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If only all warranty calls were like this…

A couple of years ago, I had the misfortune to require warranty support from Dell (a frustrating experience). Then, problems with my IBM ThinkPad left me stuck between a 3-year hardware warranty and a 90-day software warranty. Well, thankfully my recent experiences with HP have been considerably better.

Last year I had some warranty repairs carried out on a couple of my notebook PCs – the warranty cover was for a back-to-base repair: a courier arrived from DHL and packaged the computers, then a few days later they were returned with the faulty components replaced.

Then, yesterday, one of my hard disks failed. I checked the warranty status on the Seagate website (one of the reasons that I use Seagate drives is the 5-year warranty) but it wasn’t valid as the component was originally supplied by HP. So, I called HP, who were happy to take my word that a few whirrs and clunks from the disk, then nothing (except a system that was stuck attempting to boot from drive C: ) meant that this device was broken and needed to be replaced (even if I did have to explain to an overseas call centre operator that I work for a company with 20,000 employees and I couldn’t check every address they had on their system for that company name, but that my home address certainly wouldn’t be there). Half an hour later, HP (or one of their agents) called me to check the part number and promised me a replacement within 24 hours.

By 9:00 this morning, I had a package containing a new drive in my hand (even if the courier didn’t know anything about collecting the faulty component) and a few minutes later I had installed it in my system. By lunchtime, everything was up and running again. Then, I found the instructions that told me to package the failed drive in the box used to ship the new replacement and peel off the label, underneath which was a pre-paid returns label. All that was needed then was a call to UPS to arrange collection and a few minutes ago, the same UPS driver returned to collect the package.

Overall, it was a positive experience (as positive as a wrecked hard drive can be) – less than a day of downtime on a standard parts-only warranty. Thank you HP.

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