Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why I likely won't by HP again (Aka Pavilion dv9500 Problems)

I confess to have having HP love. The Pavilion dv9500 is a sweet looking machine. And the screen is really quite lovely. And the price was right. So, I bought HP thinking that it would be reliable and would suit my needs. And it was. For 8 months. And then Vista SP1 came around and everything went to hell. And I'm still battling with it (after installing a new hard drive, mind you) and although I may be winning the war, I'm never getting back all the time, effort, and money spent.

So here's my list of reasons why I won't be buying an HP laptop again.

1. The service sucks. When I bought a compaq from Best Buy prior to moving to England, I was offered and ultimately sold a international service plan. It cost about 1/9 of the cost of the laptop but it was well worth it. I figured, if anything went wrong, better to have some service options in the UK.

Unfortunately, HP has no such plan. Instead, one has to fix one's computer in the country in which it was bought. There seems to be no real reason for that (although they've got a litany of bullshit to fill your ears if you're so inclined). Instead, they've got a service center set up somewhere in India with people who are trained to repeat a very narrow set of sentences and who are completely unable to answer logical questions that might occur. For example, when quiered about the computer's problem, Help Tech #2 (it's always a different techie which means it's always a different level of english and confusion) immediately replied that I needed to replace the hard drive. Techie #3, when quiered, was unable to explain exactly WHO would be installing the hard drive once it arrived (me, a service tech, Bob Dole?). At which point, I gave up.

My point: For a company that has allegedly won awards for its "service", I expect service that doesn't eat open ass.

2. HP software stinks. Look, if you're gonna load up every computer you make with software that is intended to provide security and functionality (driver) updates for said computer, make sure it works first. Because for me, it's never, *ever* worked. Not only that, I find it to be annoying and after discovering that it didn't work, I disabled it.

3. They load up your box with tons of crap that no one would ever use or want. Look: I'm gonna type this real slow like so that I'm clear: I will NEVER sign up for AOL. It's a bankrupt model that worked during the 90s but is finished. Nor do I want the Yahoo! toolbar, the HP Games (which humorously HP things someone somewhere would actually pay for), or Vongo or any of the other pre-loaded fecal ridden filth that corrupt the smooth operation of the system. I know other computers come like this too, but HP is so far over the top with it that I want to punch someone.

4. Interactivity failure. I don't know, call me crazy, but if I have an HP laptop and I buy an HP printer/scanner/copier, I sorta expect that I'm gonna be able to connect the two with no problems. I'm crazy like that. So imagine my surprise when my HP printer encountered troubles interfacing with my HP laptop, ultimately resulting in a partial failure that left my printer/scanner/copier as only a printer/copier. Realizing that maybe the problem was with Windows Vista (no! never!) I then went to the HP website looking for drivers and installation software, where, surprise, I found 2 seperate programs that were intended to do the same thing, neither of which work properly, but I'm guessing you knew that already. Anyway, after extensive fighting (read: several attempts to run the same program), I was ultimately successful in installing the printer AND scanner. But then, the computer crashed and I was forced to reinstall Windows *again* and we're back where we started.

So, I'll type this real slow like too, just to be sure: A company that makes both printers and laptops should be able to get them to talk to each other and work properly.

5. Consistent errors and other problems. If one goes to the HP website and does some looking around, it will quickly become clear that the ENTIRE Pavilion line is in trouble. HP has extended warrenties for the majority of the models produced (how kind of them) and has information on common errors and fixes on most lines. Not only that, I have heard from various sources that the dv9500 (my laptop) has maddening problems with freezing and crashing after a period of use. The diagnosis is unclear but the problems are well known.

What does HP have to say about this? Nada. Zilch. Zero. Bagel. Taco.

Call me crazy, but computer reliability is rather important, no?

6. Utter lack of information. I can't confirm that I have solved the problem that has plagued my laptop over the last month or more. I think that I may have, but until I have, say, 2 weeks of use without crashes or needing to reinstall windows, I won't know. What I do know is that prior to installing Vista SP1 for the first time, I had no troubles. After installing Vista SP1, the nightmare began. Roughly a week or so AFTER SP1 was released, HP quietly released a note on its website for the dv9500 suggesting that the BIOS should be flashed an updated PRIOR to installing SP1. As was once said famously, "I REALLY COULD HAVE USED THAT INFORMATION YESTERDAY!"

If this is the root of the problem, and I hope to God it is because I just can't continue on without a functioning computer and do the things that I need to do, then the blame can't be totally shouldered by HP. After all, HP doesn't make the operating system and Vista is an utter disaster that will likely go down as Microsoft's New Coke.

Then again, it wasn't like I had ANY choice about the operating system. So maybe it is HP's fault. I mean, had XP been an option, I would have happily clicked the box and gone with the most stable, reliable, and functionable operating system around. Instead, Vista was shoved down my throat like foul cough medicine. Once again, the consumer gets screwed by the monopolization of commerce by one giant over another. (And don't get me started about Mac providing choice. I detest the Mac OS and functionality with a ribald passion that risks violent confrontation when I am forced to use it.)


I really hope my laptop is back. I really do. I want nothing more than to continue enjoying its large screen and I really do have many thing to do which require internet and MS word. And if I can continue to use this laptop without further repairs, I'll be esctatic.

But when it comes time to get my next laptop, I'll just repeat words from one of the least likeable and most annoying ad campaigns in recent memory: "Dude, you're getting a Dell."



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