Iâve been wanting to post this comment for some time, but never seemed to get around to it.
Iâve been through a number of different laptops over the last decade or so â Compaq, Dell, Gateway, and Toshiba â and each time, Iâve found that they just donât seem to last. I canât point to anything in particular â itâs never the same thing twice, but for one reason or another, I donât get more than a couple of yearsâ life out of a laptop. Sometimes itâs physical failure â the screen breaks, the drive fails, the battery stops holding a charge â and sometimes itâs simply that the machine is too slow and impossible to upgrade to support me as new software is needed.
Unless I buy a ThinkPad.
Itâs not that the ThinkPad doesnât have its problems â itâs more that IBM support always made things right. When the CD-R drive on my first ThinkPad started failing, I called them up, and they quickly sent me a replacement (taking, as usual, my credit card number as guarantee in case I didnât send them the drive back). The replacement turned out to be a DVD-R drive, so I was ahead on that deal â particularly since the failure happened right at the end of the warranty period.
So my more recent ThinkPad concerned me, coming as it did with a Lenovo sticker instead of IBM.
As usual, problems with the laptop happened once in a while. About six months in, the laptop battery stopped retaining its charge. Iâm used to companies telling me that the battery is only warranted for 90 days, and that when batteries stop holding their charge, itâs because of my usage patterns (whatever that means â isnât a battery supposed to be used when youâre on the bus or train, or in a meeting?)
Not these guys, no, they sent me a replacement battery (after the ritual exchange of credit card numbers).
One persistent problem stayed with me from the first few months of the purchase of the laptop â the sound stuttered. Now, I should note here what I mean by âstutteredâ, because I gather others have sound stuttering that isnât the same problem as mine.
Imagine, if you will, that the speakers can handle sounds only âsoâ loud. Pass any sounds louder than that to them, and the sound ceases until the sound is back to a good volume. So, the timing of the sound is unaffected, itâs just as if someoneâs repeatedly hammering the âmuteâ button. Not a problem if everythingâs normalised to below 70%, say, but then thatâs difficult to listen to because itâs so quiet.
Thatâs the problem I had â the other sort of problem appears to be where the processing of the sound signal is held up, so the timing of the sound is affected, as if someone is hammering a âpauseâ button repeatedly on and off.
I called Lenovo a couple of times about this, and assumed it was simply not going to be fixed, as they kept suggesting new drivers, or that I take it to a service centre where they would decide if it could be fixed there or had to be sent away. I wasnât keen on the service centres they were suggesting.
Finally I reached the end of my warranty, and also the end of my patience with the problem â I was playing more and more stuff from BBC Radio (see a theme here?), and they were coming through normalised properly, rather than dead quiet. So, I either had to re-normalise everything myself, or get the problem fixed.
I called Lenovo, spoke to a nice man in North Carolina, and was told theyâd have to look at the system. Iâd have to send it in.
I hate being without my laptop â all the more so because I had to send in my hard drive as well. So, itâs make-a-backup time, plus delete-all-the-secrets. A box arrived, with paid shipping, I stuck the laptop in the box, and sent it back. Over Thanksgiving, so that â5 business daysâ became naturally closer to two weeks, and because it eventually took a while to fix the problem, closer to three weeks.
When I received the system back, I noticed a few things:
Youâll often hear people bad-mouthing non-US companies for having poor technical support that doesnât speak English and canât often help â and though this may be true for Lenovoâs online support âchatâ (where you type into a browser window), itâs not true for their phone support, and I really canât argue with the quality of the warranty work theyâve done for me (and how comfortable they were stretching the warranty in the instance that I had been complaining for a while before the warranty expired).
Perhaps itâs a little sad that I have to post a glowing review like this of support that matches roughly what I would expect. But I think Lenovo deserves a pat on the back for this support, and I can only apologise that it has taken me so long to get around to doing so.
I will likely be buying another Lenovo ThinkPad when I finally need to dispose of this one.