Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Computer Problems

A couple of posts ago I profiled a problem I was having with our 4+ year old Dell Dimension 8400 desktop computer. I had received an error labeled "unmountable_boot_volume" that I tried to trouble-shoot with Dell. First, I tried to reinstall Windows XP, but it came back to the same error after the hour-long Windows set-up and installation. Dell told me I needed a new hard drive. $50 and 5 days later I had the new hard drive installed. After attempting to reinstall Windows XP on the new hard drive, I once again receive a blue-screen error with similar STOP codes. Something like 0x0000007B. Dell told me that, although extremely rare, I had a bad motherboard. A new motherboard would cost me about $170.

So, we're now at the crossroad of either pouring more money into this antiquated desktop, or purchasing a new system. We're leaning towards a new system, but that brings us to a new crossroad: a laptop or a desktop? We're leaning towards a laptop so that it can neatly live on the desk in our new kitchen. It will essentially be a desktop replacement, so we're not concerned with portability, since, at most, we'll be taking it room to room, not on a plane.

I'm impressed with how advanced the features on laptops have become since I did research 4 years ago. The 17" screen versions come with Blu-ray players and 1920 X 1200 resolution, making it essentially an HDTV. And, they come with HDMI inputs to allow easy porting of the Blu-ray signal to larger monitors (a.k.a. TVs). Fingerprint readers, 400 GB hard drives, killer video cards, built-in Web cameras, advanced speakers, oh my! CNET and PCMAG have been my review bibles and the Asus M70Vn models (B1 and C1) seem to score at or near the top. It's a new brand for me, but the features, warranty and price make it very attractive when I compare the same feature sets in Gateway, Dell or Sony notebooks.

The hard pill to swallow, however, is that even at the competitive price of the Asus notebooks, it would cost about 10 x the amount a new motherboard for the Dell 8400 would cost. Fortunately, my company reimburses me 20% of new computer purchases once every three years, which equates to about $350 if we end up with an Asus.


BeachBum said...

Go for the new system. 4 years is a long time to go between systems and once the motherboard goes other things are sure to follow.

Rob said...

Thanks BeachBum. I just tried to convince my wife that I should pull the $1700 trigger for the laptop, but she wants to go look at some in person before deciding. I guess that's smart, but it frustrates me to not have access to a home computer. I'd much rather give up my TV and telephone than my computer.

Your blog is great. I'm a fellow Bostonian with kids, also trying to keep part of my immature tendencies alive. And, thanks for turning me on to the stellar blog of Jim Hammen. What a character.