Buying New Or Refurbished Computers – Which Do You Prefer?

This morning I received an email from Circuit City in which they were selling the following laptop computer. It was a Compaq Presario CQ62-219WM Notebook PC – Intel Celeron 900 2.2GHz, 2GB, 250GB HDD, DVDRW, 15.6″ Display, Windows 7 Home Premium and it was priced at $299 after rebates. In addition the sale was for only 72 hours and supplies were limited. But what caught my eye was a check mark and the statement ‘quality refurbished.’

I had to chuckle when I read the words ‘quality refurbished.’ Does this mean that plain old ‘refurbished’ computers were non-quality? I have always wondered, when we go to the grocery store or see a fruit or vegetable stand along the side of the road with a sign that states ‘fresh produce.’ would we think that this is better than rotten produce?

I took a look at the specifications for this ‘quality refurbished’ computer and this is a really lightweight system when it comes to horsepower. In an era when dual-core systems are standard, would one really be willing to buy a single core Celeron at 2.2 GHz?

I went over to Amazon and you can purchase a similar Compaq Presario with a different model # but with the same specifications new for $399. So buying a refurbished unit would save you about $100. That type of savings is in the range of about 25% off of retail for a semi-used product. I know that some people return computers for several reasons. One reason is that they discover the system does not meet their needs, or that they had problems with the system either with the software or hardware or they just didn’t like the computer for a variety of other reasons.

When the systems are returned to the company, they no longer can be sold as new so are re-boxed as refurbished units. The units are sold through companies like Circuit City, CompUSA, TigerDirect [all three of the companies are the same], or through other outlets at a discount. On this particular unit the warranty is for 90 days for parts and labor. Normally these units sold new are covered by a one year parts and labor warranty.

I build my desktop computers, so I never have to deal with any retailer. But when it comes to laptop computers I usually buy new only and have never purchased a refurbished laptop computer system. Since I have no personal experience buying a refurbished laptop computer, I want to ask the readers at Lockergnome some questions.

Do you buy new or refurbished? Why do you buy new or refurbished?

Share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – Circuit City

Source – Amazon

PS Since I wrote this article I noticed that Amazon has priced the new Compaq laptop at $405.

Dell Inspiron Duo – Part Tablet And Part Notebook – Reviewed

Just before the holidays, I had spoken with a neighbor who was looking to buy a new computer. He mentioned his looking at both notebook and tablet computers, but was having trouble making up his mind. I briefly mentioned the Dell Inspiron Duo, and its part notebook part tablet design; I basically didn’t give it further thought about what he bought — until on Monday night when he called. Sure enough he had ordered a Dell Inspiron Duo several weeks ago and he knew I had a Cr-48. So we decided to swap computers for a day, which gave me the opportunity to review the Duo.

The first thing I had to do was put my prejudice aside regarding Dell computers. A decade ago I recommended Dell computers to all of my clients. But when Dell farmed out its technical support overseas, like others did, Dell lost its credibility. It became just ‘another PC maker’ and it was not offering anything new nor innovative. It also seemed to me that the quality of its hardware suffered. Again, Dell was no worse nor better than the others like HP, Compaq, and Acer to name a few.

Here is the first thing you must accept. Repeat after me: This is not an Apple iPad, this is not an Apple iPad. The Duo touch screen works fairly well. The only issue I noticed was that it appeared to me to be sluggish in performance. This could be a hardware issue since the little Duo comes with the Intel 1.5Ghz Dual-Core Atom processor. Windows 7 needs some extra horses, in my opinion. Also, I would prefer 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB, but that is just me.

Flipping from tablet mode to notebook mode is fairly simple. You just flip the screen and you are ready to go. But like with all touchscreen devices, this one is also a fingerprint magnet. For some of us, fingerprints aren’t a bother. But for me, I hate greasy fingerprints. I even keep my cell phone case and screen clean and free of fingerprints.

The Duo is also thick and heavy. Trying to hold the unit in one hand and use the touch screen with the other requires a good deal of strength. I had my wife try it and she thought it was heavy for holding in one hand, but worked just fine when placed on her lap or table.

I have another concern about the Duo. Since this is a brand new product and a brand new design, I wonder how long one could continue to flip the screen before developing problems? I think that waiting for the second generation of the Duo is advisable, unless you need the latest and greatest right now.

I think that Dell has a great idea and the Duo at $549 is reasonably priced for what you get. Yes, the notebook/touchscreen Duo could use a few additional hardware features, like more RAM, faster processor, better Web cam, and a media card reader. A future version of the Duo that addresses these concerns could be a winner, IMO.

If you own a Duo, please share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – Dell

Computer Reliability Statistics – How Reliable Are They?

Computer Reliability Statistics – How Reliable Are They? You Decide.

Last week I wrote two articles about how Computerworld had been the victim of fraudulent information, provided by one of their contributors, whom they subsequently terminated. Today I was reading an article about computer reliability in which the author was questioning the methodology and data that previously has been reported by Rescuecom Corporation, in which they had stated that these brands were reliable according to their data:

  1. Apple (AAPL)
  2. Asus (AKCIF)
  3. IBM/Lenovo (LNVGY)
  4. Toshiba (TOSBF)
  5. HP/Compaq (HPQ)

I found this interesting because I had previously reported this data in an article I wrote. Which brings me to question just how accurate any data about reliability really is?

In the article it states the following information:

So what’s the problem? The results are meaningless, given the methodology. According to Rescuecom president Josh Kaplan, the company looked at a sample of 69,900 support calls it received from its clients in 2009. It then looked at the machine that was the subject of the calls, and compared the percentage breakout to the U.S. personal computer market share data (percentage share of computers shipped) from market researcher IDC. However, there are a few major problems:

  • The company doesn’t have support contracts with users. They simply provide support for people who call.
  • Rescuecom assumes that the calls come in a breakdown proportionate to the computer-buying public as a whole.
  • Rescuecom compares its numbers to market share numbers for people who bought computers in the country last year.
  • They assume that every call for support indicates a problem with the computer, even if the software and hardware are functioning as designed and a user misunderstood how to do something.

It’s not that the Rescuecom people are trying to pull one over on the public. I think they’re sincere. Unfortunately, misunderstandings of statistics are as rampant in the high tech industry as they are anywhere, and journalists should get a lot smarter about what they read in press releases.

So who should we trust when it comes to accurate data about computer reliability? I recently received the 2010 buying guide from Consumer Reports. The report basically supports the findings of Rescuecom. But just how reliable is this data from Consumer Reports?

So my question for you is this. Who do you trust to provide accurate data on the reliability of computers?

Let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.


AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 – Paid Version – Reviewed

AVG Technologies has not been sitting on its rump and has taken seriously user feedback about some of the issues we have all experienced when using AVG. For those of us who have used AVG for a number of years, we know that scanning a computer can be a long process. We also know that previous versions of AVG sometimes will slow the boot times on some computers. But it seems that AVG has fine tuned AVG Anti-Virus 9 and these problems have basically disappeared.

AVG Technologies describes its latest version:

AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 is faster, safer and easier to use. The combined anti-virus/anti-spyware scanner in AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 runs up to 50% faster than earlier versions. It is rock solid protection that doesn’t get in your way. AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 also delivers new anti-phishing detection techniques, which can quickly and accurately determine whether or not a web page is hosting a phishing attack.

AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 has a secret weapon other anti-virus products don’t have. It has AVG LinkScanner. LinkScanner takes over where your anti-virus doesn’t go — into the depths of web pages you haven’t even visited yet. LinkScanner gives you a vital extra layer of protection you won’t find in other anti-virus software. And you can use it in combination with firewalls and anti-spam products from other companies with no loss of protection or PC performance. Most web threats these days are literally here today, gone tomorrow. So the only way to protect yourself is to use software that checks the page behind every link at the only time that matters – right before you click on it.

Whenever you’re on the web, the moment you go to click on a link, LinkScanner analyzes the page behind that link to tell you whether there’s something nasty hiding there. For added peace of mind, you also get safety ratings for your Google, Yahoo! and Bing/MSN search results.

Additionally, to improve ease of use AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 installation process has been shortened by 50 percent and comes with a new look & feel.

I installed the AVG 9 paid version yesterday, upgrading the paid version of AVG 8.5 on my personal laptop. The upgrade process was quick  and the installation was uneventful. After a reboot of the computer I did an optimization scan, which prepares AVG 9 for future scans. Upon completion of the optimization scan, I did a full system scan to see if there were, in fact, improvements to the scanning process. Scanning is quicker, but not blazing fast. Of course few anti-virus scanners are known for their blazing speeds! No viruses were found, just the standard cookies that I am aware are on my system.

The look and feel of AVG 9 will be familiar to all current AVG 8.5 users. This time I chose to install LinkScanner, which alerts the user of dangerous Web sites. I am also using WOT – Web of Trust – to also identify bad Web sites. So far both seem to be working well together. Eventually I will remove one of the products if both report similar dangers.

The free version of AVG Anti-Virus 9 will be available for download on October 15, 2009. I would recommend that current users of version 8.5 or lower upgrade to the new version. Once the free version becomes available I will review the freebie as well.

If you decide to try the trial of AVG 9, please share your thoughts with us.

Comments welcome.

Download AVG 9 paid version here. [Free 30 day trial available]

The Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX Netbook For $.99 – Really

Of course there is a catch. You need to activate the computer through Sprint in order to get this super price. But it seems to be a deal since the same activation through Verizon or AT&T gets the same computer for $199.99. Without a service contract you can buy the netbook for $389.99. You can get this deal through your local Best buy store, with a link below.

So what are the specifications of this netbook:

The Compaq 1040DX is basically a rebadge of HP’s Mini and offers the same specs: 10.1″ display with 1024 x 576 resolution, 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, three-cell battery, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. Although I use too many devices to be locked into an embedded 3G solution, the deal might appeal to some.

What is the real cost of activating through Sprint?

Sprint is fully subsidizing the hardware price in order to gain a two-year service agreement. At $60 a month, the 3G service costs the consumer $1,440, for a rough net gain to Sprint of around $1,050 over two years for a single customer. Voice revenues are taking a back seat to the more lucrative data services, so I think this is a smart play for Sprint. All three carriers have invested billions of dollars in their networks, but you can’t recoup your costs and turn a profit if you can’t get customers on the network.

What do you think? Will you be running down to Best Buy to buy this netbook? I doubt I will.

Comments welcome.

Best Buy Offer


HP – Compaq Recalls Laptop Batteries

HP – Compaq is recalling about 70,000 laptop batteries that may be a fire hazard. The recall as spelled out by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states the following information:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.Name of Product: Lithium-Ion batteries used in Hewlett-Packard and Compaq notebook computers

Units: About 70,000

Importer: Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif.

Hazard: The recalled lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm and CPSC are aware of two reports of batteries that overheated and ruptured, resulting in flames/fire that caused minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recalled lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are used with various HP and Compaq notebook computers. Models that can contain a recalled battery include:

HP Pavilion Compaq Presario HP HP Compaq



Additional information can be found at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions web site including how to locate specific computer models as well as battery models. In addition they provide this contact information:

HP Battery Replacement Program Web site at or call (800) 889-2031 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

Comments welcome.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

How Good Is Your laptop And What About Service?

My buddy Charlie [aka Goose] had asked myself and my other good buddy Denny [aka Bugsy], what laptop he should buy? He wants to buy a unit from Costco since they provide an extended warranty plus their pricing for laptops is competitive. He sent us an email yesterday with a HP model he was looking at and both Denny and I stated it looked very good for the price.

So last night I was looking through the April 2009 edition of PC Magazine and I noted a remark in the comments section. A reader was defending his HP purchase stating he hadn’t any issues and was responding to a February article in which a readers survey of some 32,000 readers gave HP poor marks. So I went online and found the article and also the overall rating chart used in the PC Magazine article. Here is what it looks like:


So what do you think Charlie should buy? If you own an HP, what is your opinion about the product? How is the service? Let us know.

Comments welcome.


HP & Compaq Wireless Problems? Enhanced 24 Month Warranty Is Available

Back in October 2007 I posted an article referencing wireless problems on certain HP and Compaq models here.

Reader Donna  posted this comment this morning:

For everyone with a problem with HP Laptops check out this link. Have it ready if you call HP for support because they won’t tell you about it. You will have to sent them a link to it to prove you know there is an 24 month service enhancement warranty on these notebooks because of a hardware issue. They have to fix it for free but will try to charge you for the repair if you are unaware of the warranty program. How low is that?!!!

Check the list of model numbers to determine if you qualify for a free repair. You will need to locate your service tag number on the unit. On the site it also states:

Service enhancements and free shipping:

  • Free shipping

    If your notebook needs to be returned to HP for repair, the shipping costs are free. HP will immediately send you a postage paid container in which to send in your computer, and we will pay the return shipping.

  • Post-service warranty

    After HP repairs your notebook, you will continue to be covered by the HP Limited Warranty Service Enhancement program for 24 months after the start of your original standard limited warranty, or 90 days after receiving your free repair, whichever is later.

So there you have it.

Comments welcome.

Hope this helps:

HP – Compaq Source.

The Compaq Presario SR5102HM Desktop Computer For $299.95

The Compaq Presario SR5102HM Desktop Computer from Hewlett-Packard is a great computer for home, office, and school work. The computer has hardware and software tools that allow you to get online and connect digital devices such as cameras and MP3 players.

The Presario comes with multimedia software such as Roxio Creator with LightScribe for DVD and CD burning, and MyDVD Basic to put home movies and slideshowsnto DVD. It also includes Microsoft Works 8 for productivity and Norton Internet Security 2007 with a 60-day update subscription for protection from viruses and spyware.

Bringing digital photos into your computer is easy with the built-in 15-in-1 digital media card reader.You can easily connect peripheral devices to the computer via the four installed USB 2.0 ports. Most digital cameras, printers, scanners, webcams, and MP3 players use the USB interface.

Getting your media out of the computer is easy too; the PC’s LightScribe DVD burner not only allows you to burn DVDs and CDs, you can even use it to print labels directly on the surface of a LightScribe disc.

The system is powered by a 1.8 GHz Intel Celeron 438 CPU and boasts 1 GB of RAM, a 120 GB SATA 7200 rpm hard drive, a SuperMulti LightScribe DVD burner and Intel GMA 950 graphics. Windows Vista Home Basic is the platform that ties all this hardware and software together, providing a great computer for the digital savvy family.

Special price: $299.95 + shipping (NOTE: This price does not include a monitor!)

Inside Secrets On Brand Name Computers

Gnomie Berbs writes:

I work in IT for an “unnamed” company, and want to share with you and the people in the chat room some inside secrets in the pros and cons of certain brand name computers.

  1. Never, ever, ever buy an eMachine/Gateway computer. Why? I work on a lot of eMachines and Gateways and I would say that 70% of them all have the same problem. What happens is eMachines/Gateways, like most computer manufacturers, use very cheap power supplies. The problem is eMachine/Gateway also use very cheap motherboards. What happens? The PSU nukes the motherboard, so to speak. Think about that. 70%.
  2. HP/Compaq desktops are not as horrible as eMachines, but they’re most definitely not the best. The biggest problem with HP/Compaq computers is the hard drives fail. Now hard drives are very good at failing, but HP/Compaq’s like to fail more often than not. Who knows why? All I know is that they use Samsung hard drives and they downright suck. Newer HPs in the last year have fixed this problem — or so the company says.
  3. HP laptops. Okay, I’ll keep it simple. If you have an HP DV2000, 6000, or 9000 series with an AMD processor, you might have a problem. Why? Well if your built-in wireless receiver stops working (not even showing up in device manager), it’s not software, it’s the system board. Now HP is starting to address this by offering an extended one-year warranty on this specific problem.
  4. Acer desktops. They’re not bad machines, but if they’re going to fail, they’ll do so usually within the first week of use. Why do they fail in the first week? Not sure — most likely a burn-in failed. How do they fail? Usually the motherboard.
  5. Acer laptops. I like Acer laptops. I own one myself and have no issues with it. But the most common failure (not all that common, but it is the most common) is with the LCD screens. How? Yellow lines down the screen.
  6. Toshiba laptops. I love Toshiba laptops; they are hands-down, in my mind, the best laptops out there. The only complaints I have about them are that they tend to overheat (older ones, anyway).
  7. Cicero. Never heard of Cicero? Well they are GREAT desktop machines, but they don’t make them anymore. Why do I like them so much? They’re not normal, brand-name computers. Basically they are a bunch of spare parts put into a Cicero case — you will almost never find two of them alike. But why is that good? They use top of the line brand name parts to build the computers; there is no cheaping out with Cicero. If a friend offers you a Cicero computer, TAKE IT!

That’s about it. Hope I have shed some light on the brand name computer business.

Best Buy – Comparison Shopping

Now that Best Buy is carrying Dell computer systems, I decided to take a look and see if this would make comparison shopping between brands easier. I went to the Best Buy site and looked at laptop computer systems that were under $700 in price. I was surprised how many brands were available [32 brands on 01-02-08], and how easy it was to compare the different features each brand offered.

Brands of laptop systems being offered under $700 included HP, Compaq, Gateway, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Acer & Asus. What I found interesting was that in the $599 range there were a variety of brands that offered features such as 15.4″ screens, 1G of RAM, DVD/CD burners and more. Also included was the Asus Eee listed at $399. Some of the $499 or less sale items were already sold out.

Before I continue let me state that I am not recommending Best Buy as the retailer to choose for your next computer purchase. What I am saying is that you can now use Best Buy as a good place to compare all brands for features and pricing.  It does appear that with the addition of Dell the Best Buy site may just make your shopping experience somewhat easier by seeing what is being offered.

It may also provide more competition and possibly lower prices for the consumer.

But I have a question? Is there any other useful sites that you would recommend that we also shop at? If so, let us know.

Comments welcome.

Best Buy site here.

[tags]best buy, comparison, dell, gateway, toshiba, acer, hp, compaq, asus, sony, shop,  [/tags]

HP & Compaq Laptop Wireless Problems

If you own a HP or Compaq Laptop purchased during the past year or so, and have been experiencing wireless connection problems, you may wish to take a look at the HP thread for guidance in resolving the issue. From what I read it appears that the best solution is to return your laptop to HP for a motherboard replacement. It seems that the other suggestions of updating the BIOS, updating wireless drivers or trying a replacement wireless card are not working.

Some of the models mention in the postings are:

dv6000z , DV6449us, dv6646us ,dv6000, dv6225, dv6500t, V6133CL, dv9205us, DV 9000, DV6105us, DV6040ca , dv6105us and many more models.

It seems the issue may be with the broadcom wireless hardware.

Anyway you can read all of the dirt here on the HP forum.

Comments welcome.

[tags]hp, compaq, wireless, problem, hardware, replacement, motherboard, [/tags]

Is Dell Going Down The Tubes?

Seems like everywhere I turn these days, Dell is struggling not to tick someone off. Personally, despite the good intentions they had with offering Ubuntu, it did not take long for their real reasoning to become clear – free press. With that said, they still have a chance to pull their act together, but I fear that selling cheap $350 PCs alone is not going to compete against the ability to go to Best Buy and purchase a new HP with zero mailing time.

One other thing that Dell had better get a handle on is their amazingly poor customer service for Windows users. Not saying that any mainstream PC manufacturer has hit this nail on the head, but are they serious?

Maybe I am being too hard on them here? Perhaps their not as bad as I have said in the past, right? Yeah, and I flew into my home office today on Harry Potter’s magic broom and had tea-n-crumpets all afternoon. Mark my words, Dell is going to be doing some serious restructuring because at this point, they are simply failing to provide anything short of really cheap computers with craptacular service. They used to be on top of their game, but this seems to have been lost forever at this point.

[tags]HP, Compaq, Thinkpad[/tags]

Manufacturers Have Their Own Rules When It Comes To Vista Upgrade

I’ve been taking a look at some of the computer manufacturers’ Web sites concerning the upgrade process to Windows Vista, and it appears that each manufacturer has its own set of rules you must play by. And since we are all familiar with rebates, we know how important it is to follow the procedure exactly. I recall sending in one rebate where I failed to include the UPC code, even though the register receipt showed what I had bought, but it was a no-go according to its rules.

On the plus side, most manufacturers appear to have simplified the process. Here are the links to several of the main computer manufacturers’ Web sites, which reference their procedures for what is called “Express Upgrade To Windows Vista.” You may want to view the rules to make sure you get your copy in the specified time frame.

For Dell computer systems, take a look here.

For HP-Compaq computer systems, take a look here.

For Gateway computer systems, take a look here. (Note – this site also handles eMachines.)

For Sony computer systems, take a look here.

It also appears for those who own older systems from one of these OEMs that it will offer updated drivers either by download or on CD/DVD should you choose to upgrade to Vista. Again, check the manufacturer’s Web site for your specific model.

Enjoy your PC.

[tags]Vista, upgrade, windows, dell, hp, compaq, gateway, emachine, sony[/tags]