Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Laptop problems

I bought my Advent 8212 Notebook from PC World in Basingstoke on October 16th 2007. That makes it 19 months old.

Yesterday afternoon the mouse cursor froze as I was doing some work and, as I felt around the machine in puzzlement, I discovered that the bottom of the notebook, next to the power plug, was too hot to touch. I immediately powered the machine down (hard stop via the power button being the only available option). I recollected that I had not heard the familar faint whine of the fan for a long while.

This morning I drove up to PC World at Basingstoke to see whether they could identify the problem and assuming I was right about the fan having gone, replace it. The PC World person at the "Tech Guys" counter was one of those slightly overweight thirty-something individuals of such mental slowness that one suspects catatonia. He reflected over the receipt I pushed in front of him for ten seconds or so and then went off to consult with his colleagues.

Three minutes later he ambled back and told me that to fix the machine, as it was now out of warranty, would cost £230. I must have stepped back with a half-strangled involuntary cry: I only recall saying in a shocked tone: "Excuse me?"

He moved with bovine stolidity to reassure me.

"If you had brought it in with a cracked screen, it would still be £230."

"The screen is not cracked" I responded weakly, "I think the fan's gone. It would probably cost £10 for a replacement and maybe ten minutes to fix it for someone who knew their way round the inside of a laptop. And it's Advent - it's your own brand, after all".

"Oh no" he said, pleased to see an opening. "We only buy them in. Someone else makes them. Your best bet is to look out for a fan on eBay".

I thanked him for his assistance but he had already lost interest, his gaze moving to the elderly gentleman who had been patiently waiting next to me, a man who desired above all else not to be the recipient of the same level of help that I had just received.

As I write this, I have just checked the bottom of the laptop and again it's too hot to touch. I have pulled out the power lead so we're on batteries now. I think that will keep it within its workable thermal envelope.

So it's a sad life from now on, pulling that power lead out and in ... remind me to get a Dell next time.

UPDATE: 17.45: It turns out that there are many companies out there on the web which will repair laptops, some for a fixed fee and others ... depends on the problem. There are even a few in Andover. None of them seems wild about getting Advent spares.

However, while I was searching, I was also unscrewing, to get the following picture of the fan subsystem together with its all-important serial number (click on image to make larger).

I'm currently doing a disk defrag with power on, waiting to see if the problem recurs.

UPDATE: 20.30: Having exposed the fan, and given it a bit of a clean, it now appears to be working again and the temperature of the casing has dropped to what I recall as normal. So much money saved! (At least for the time being).

We currently have Clare's niece Jane staying with us, together with her three girls aged 4, 2 and some small number of months. I had forgotten the trail of debris which infants strew around behind them, not all of which is food.