AUGUST 8, 2006
The Warranty Switch In the Sky
I purchased a Dell Inspiron 2650 notebook in December of 2002. It was used only when I traveled to electronics shows and visited relatives and friends. The notebook worked well even if it was as heavy as a bowling ball. Since I worry about warranties, I purchased an extension of the usual one year so I would be covered for three years.
The last time I used the Inspiron was March of this year and it was fine. It was stored in a padded carrying case until I decided to check it out for a planned trip this month. I plugged it in and turned it on. Believe it or not there was no hard drive to be found. I guess I should have paid for that fourth year. Then it might have lasted until next year before someone pushed the big switch in the sky to shut me down.
I know it seems like sour grapes to complain about something that cost over 1600 bucks a little over three years ago but, over the years, I have found this happening too frequently to be accidental.
(As an aside I purchased a Sony DVD/VCR player just over a year ago and the VCR component died about three months after the warranty expired. I did not extend the warranty on that unit when I purchased it so now I have a half operating product that will no longer record poker tournaments or the Sopranos.)
Back to the Inspiron! What to do with this expensive bowling ball that had turned into a heavy paperweight? I, like every other computer geek, Googled the internet for solutions. To buy a new updated snazzy but similarly equipped notebook computer would be about $800.00. About half the price of the dead one. I could buy a very basic unit for about $500.00 but what fun is that.
I then checked the Dell replacement site to find that a new 30 Gigabyte hard drive would cost me about $165.00 plus shipping. If I had to do that I might as well buy a new notebook.
I then took a look at my favorite junkyard. eBay! A search on eBay gave me several options: a 40 Gigabyte hard drive that was called a Dell replacement for my model at $62.50 including shipping or some other Dell replacement drives that had much greater storage for more money. Spending about $62.50 sounded about right but what about installing it and getting the notebook up and running? Looking at the fine print in the eBay auction there was a recommendation that a trained technician should do the installation.
Back to Google I went to research what would be needed to do the install. It didn’t look too hard so my inclination was to either do the deed or trash the computer. I bid on and won the drive. Now I had to worry if I was buying a piece of junk, would I be able to install it and make it work (In case you missed it, I am a great worrier).
The drive came in the mail a few days later at about 4:30 PM. My wife said, “Why don’t you just get to work.” Since I am also a great procrastinator I said, “Maybe tomorrow” as I sat down to read a mystery novel. A few hours later, with her having telepathically messaged me so I would get off my butt, I decided to bite the bullet.
Two and a half hours later the job was done. The drive worked. The operating system was installed and I felt like the greatest technical genius in the world. All kidding aside, I had converted a dead weight piece of out of warranty junk to a working, if not valuable, road warrior computer.
Could you do it? Most likely. All it takes is research, a small screwdriver, and the ability to read directions.
Unfortunately, I now find myself with a three and a half year old notebook instead of the much faster, more up-to-date one I would have bought if I had just given up on this task.
Maybe I can give it to one of the kids and get that new one anyway.