Buying a laptop

Bit of a technology thread recently, still, better than cats.

Offspring’s old laptop, purchased second-hand from IT guy at work a couple of years ago started playing up. She’s never been happy with it but if it was sort of working and limited time she spent on the computer then it wasn’t all bad. Anyway, it started telling us that its version of Windows was, I forget the phrase but something like “not genuine”. It didn’t come right out and call us liars, thieves and hackers but it was close and it was persistent. I have no idea what was the origin of the Windoze 7 OS as it came pre-installed. Why it should suddenly dislike its operating system after all this time is beyond me but there you go, it provided the spark for the *getting offspring a new laptop* flame.

The original intention was for me to buy a new iMac 27″ and then she could use the current iMac. Fine idea if you ignore the more than 10,000 PLN price (2,000 GBP, $3,300) of a new iMac but we can’t and so that wasn’t going to happen in a hurry. Plan B, pay a fifth of the price (2,000 PLN) for a Windoze laptop that despite being entry level will be light years ahead of what we are replacing. Specification-wise, the old was 2GB RAM, 100GB ROM, 13″ crappy screen, ancient Intel processor, no camera or mic for Skype, Windows 7 (not genuine!)…etc. The new one is 4GB RAM, 1TB ROM, 15.6″ HD screen, 4th gen Intel i3 processor, camera & mic, Windows 8.1 (genuine)…etc.

Choosing what to buy was tough. We visited every computer seller in Arkadia shopping centre – that includes 2 small independent retailers, 1 medium sized chain, 1 hypermarket, a Sony shop and an Apple shop (didn’t bother with the latter given price constraint). The overall price range was between 1,500 PLN and 4,500 PLN and that covered perhaps more than 50 different models. Imposing a limit of 2,000 cut that to about 20 models and cutting the manufacturer scope to Lenovo or Acer got us down to about 10. For no particular reason other than vague memories of bad reviews we didn’t bother with Dell, HP, Packard Bell, Toshiba, Sony, Samsung & others. Limiting it further by saying we wanted a disc drive and the new generation of processor finally got us down to a choice of about 5 very similar models, 2 Acer and 3 Lenovo.

Nevertheless, despite there being no shortage of laptops on the display counters, none of the shops actually had one in a box that I could take home. Furthermore, none of the sales people seemed too worried about that, it is after all normal over here and I suppose is their way of accelerating the shift to internet shopping and the start of their own adventure looking for a new job where they can practice their indifference in entirely new ways.

“We shall go to Media Markt!”, I declared, “Because that is my lucky technology store and they always have exactly what we want!”. We did and they did. They actually had a small mountain of what we wanted. Two models one from Acer and one Lenovo sitting on top of maybe a hundred of each in sealed boxes ready to be taken home. We chose the Lenovo G510. I lost track of the numbers a bit but I’m pretty sure that’s the one. Experience tells me I have just bought a model that is soon to be replaced by something even better and they are just clearing out the old stock but who cares, it does what we want it to do and for the right price.

Interesting to compare the model we bought to what is for sale via Lenovo site in USA. Ours is the same as the lowest price model on that page except that we have 1TB hard drive and not 500GB, we have AMD Radeon graphics and not Intel and we have a 2 yr warranty and not 1 yr. Given those three improvements, the price we paid compares very well to the price in the US, which is unusual but nice. Oh, we’re also going to win a Jeep Compass because we got one lottery ticket to win the car for every 100 PLN we spent!! Took us a while to fill them all out though.

Getting the new laptop set up was easy. Understanding Windows 8.1 is, so far, not easy for me although Zosia seems be finding it much easier. I don’t quite get the need for a normal windows desktop as well as the square boxy start page thing. Anyway, all will become clear in time I hope.

All that remained was getting rid of the old machine, more importantly, erasing all personal data from it. After a short hunt I found DBAN – Darik’s Boot & Nuke. As one site said, trying to erase everything from inside windows is like trying to lift up a chair you are sitting in – it doesn’t work – so having decided the best thing to do was completely trash the drive I downloaded DBAN, burnt it to a disc, booted from the disc and let it do its thing for a few hours. The hard drive is toast now. Nothing there. All has been wiped, overwritten with gobbledygook and wiped again three times. Very satisfying.

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3 thoughts on “Buying a laptop

  1. Bob, I bought the only one Media Markt were selling, i.e. Polish. All the set up was in Polish despite me telling it early on that I wanted English language with Polish region. Later I was able to change the language to English so all the settings and stuff seems to be in English now.

  2. That’s good. I bought a Lenovo there as well – about 2 years ago. The sales guy told me that the version of wi7 I was getting also had an English option but he was wrong. I brought it back and ‘forced’ them to get me an English DVD which they did. (it is always key to get the salesman’s name when buying so you have some recourse when they are wrong)

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