Laptops/Hardware to avoid and why?

Forums General General Discussion Laptops/Hardware to avoid and why?

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    • #43334

      I would like to start this thread, to share knowledge on any laptops, computers or hardware in general that you think others should avoid because of your own personal experiences.
      More specifically any product thats caused you stress during your move to Windows Workstation 2008.

      In my next post, I start the ball rolling talking about why its not a great idea to rush out there and buy a Sony Vaio Laptop.

    • #47113

      Strong warning – DO NOT BUY A SONY VAIO LAPTOP, here is why

      1. The main reason I would avoid even thinking about buying a Sony is purely because of compatability issues. Saying that… Sony provide you with a laptop, operating system and software, anything you would like to do to change that configuration is NOT supported by Sony, and you can expect no assistance or liability from Sony if you decide you would prefer to run another operating system or other software.

      1.1 -> The supplied operating system on a Sony is usually the latest stable windows home use operating system. Today its windows Vista, tomorrow it could be windows 7. Due to the nature of Sony hardware, its nearly impossible to find drivers for older windows operating systems, like XP and because the hardware comes as is, with support only for its native operating system, realistically, you’re going to really battle to linux going properly too. This mentality is totally the opposite to the Dell way of thinking, Dell notebooks are designed to be OS independant, and Dell usually supplies drivers for the most popular operating systems. In the world of Sony, this is an unheard of luxury, and you can forget about getting any justice after your purchase, its too late.

      1.2 The hardware components in your Sony are not be made by Sony, but incorporated in an OEM licence agreement. This puts you the consumer between a rock and a hardplace. An example of this is the TV Card thats in my Sony. It only works with MCE, the card itself is an Avermedia M15S Hybrid, so you would think that the AverMedia TV Package would operate with the card, unfortunately this is not the case, infact if you have a closer look on the AverMedia website, they do not have any direct support for this particular type of card, Sony on the other hard do support it, Here is an actual response from Sony in this regard, again don’t be alarmed, these are the types of answers I get from them all the time.

      Here is my question : Are their any media players like Windoes Media Centre alternatives that support this model of Vaio and TV Tuner?
      Sony respond : The are no other applications installed that serve the same purpose as Media Centre. If you would like to use an alternative application, you will need to discuss this with your local computer retailer. However, we cannot guarantee all third party software except the software that has been installed on your Vaio that has already been tested.

      So in otherwords, use the laptop as its provided in that exact configuration, don’t try anything funky, if you do… Its not at the responsibility of Sony.
      I think I would get a better response from Dell anytime – and get live chat support 24/7.

      Lastly, I’ve tried every single TV card app under the Sun, nothing has worked, the best I can get is a black and white image no sound from DScalar. Also tried other apps on both Vista and Win2008Workstation. No luck, the card just seems to only want its original configuration and viewing application – MCE!!!

      Before we move on you might think it could not get any worse, actually it does read the next point

      1.2.1 – The 3rd party drivers are locked down, to ensure you can’t directly update these components from the original suppliers, all driver updates need to route via Sony.
      A prime example of this is nVidia, I’ve lost count of how many driver updates nVidia have provided since I first bought my Sony laptop, amazingly you might think, the driver packages from nVidia don’t actually work – You get a message, please update this driver from your suppliers website (i.e: Sony), Sony in the meantime have updated the driver once, and its about 3 versions behind the most current driver. I complained about this, but the complaint did not go further than the technical support guy.

      2. Sony remove old products from their products site quickly.
      I did a search 6 months after my purchase, the laptop is no longer even listed on their site. The only way to get to the drivers and utilities is to google the model, and you get to some archived page containing your Vaio. This might seem like a small point, but consider investing in your notebook 5,320.31 dollars and you’ll quickly see why this makes you feel a bit like you’ve been used for a quick sale.

      3. Which brings me to my next point – the price… again 5,320.31 US Dollars, bought right here in Czech Republic, the same price as my 2nd hand car. For this price you get a system that is kinda bound to Vista, and the gaming performance is not all that whacked up, sure it can play older style games, but anything made in the last year – forget about it.

      I think I mentioned everything, just beware of buying a Vaio, you might think its the ultimate dream notebook, but its not.

    • #47114

      Another fine product to avoid is the Pinnacle PCTV Hybrid Stick Solo (340e SE), unless you have perfect cable TV reception.

      This card might drive you up the wall with frustration, if you’re trying to view live TV via cable reception, the card is not well designed to handle anything less than 80% reception quality. Now this might sound reasonable, but for a lot of people living in apartment blocks, using the wall cable outlets, the actual signal quality is not always above 80%, it can be a little lower eg:77%. In anycase some TV Cards, like the Avermedia one I ranted about in my earlier post, can at least give you video and audio output on weaker signals, well, not this Pinnacle Card, if the signal is slightly less than desirable, you’ll hear nothing but static hissing, but you will get picture. If you’re using a straigh antenna, then this card should give you no problems, and its MCE compatable (after a patch from Pinnacle).

      But there is one last caution about this card, it comes with a mini antenna, the base is a giant magnet – yes thats right, take this antenna too close to your HDD and good bye data. Not sure what they were thinking.

      Pinnacle have a live support help line, but don’t expect any “real” assistance, the advice I got, was not check the signal, but instead contact Toshiba and ask them to disable your shared graphics memory, in their opinion this was the reason behind the static audio and hissing. This was also after I told them I tested it on 3 differant machines, all with the same result.

      If you buy this product, don’t complain later, by the time you read this, the one I bought will be back in the shop, and I’ll exchange it for a better non pinnacle product.

    • #47115

      Another candidate for the “Not usable under WS2008” award goes to the Hauppauge Nova-T Stick. Installing the drivers aren’t a problem. Then integrate the BDA files from Vista. Then I start ProgDVB and: “DBA Graph error” and “… “Device not started”. Manual starting the stick doesn’t help. DVBviewer shows me that he found the stick at starting, but then he never found it anymore … I’m so desperate …

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