Tina K. Russell

November 6, 2008

Don’t buy from Gateway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:12 pm

I sent in my beloved tablet computer back to its manufacturer, Gateway, on Monday, October 20th. I had no other choice; even though I depend on my computer, I take notes on it, I use it to make art, I keep track of my life on it, I use it to read, I use it to write, and so on, it was falling apart. The computer I bought from them, the Gateway C-140X, had a wonderful feature set, but its build quality was terrible. In the end, after less than a year of usage, it had accumulated these problems, all through normal use:

  1. The rubber feet had all fallen off
  2. The magnetic latch would not close
  3. One of only two USB ports had come apart
  4. A dead pixel had appeared on the monitor, or possibly a speck under the glass (somehow)
  5. The fan sometimes made a horrendous grinding sound
  6. The plastic swivel hinge had broken, meaning the monitor half could not stand up on its own in laptop mode
  7. In a month, the battery life had adorably plummeted from more than two hours to less than half an hour
  8. In a grand finale, the laptop had begun having the problem I like to call “proper alignment of the planets,” where charging the machine becomes harder and harder until it finally will not charge at all. In these cases, the machine must be repaired as soon as possible or the motherboard will be permanently damaged.

I delineated each and every problem to Gateway tech support over the phone; in fact, I called the following day and asked them to read the list back to me to make sure they had everything. (They did. Actually, I think they may have missed the dead pixel, but they assured me that they would check the machine top to bottom and fix any problem that appears.) You’d think that with eight individual problems, they would have no trouble finding things to fix; all you’d have to do is attempt to put it in tablet mode, or attempt to close the lid, or, for that matter, attempt to plug the machine in or turn it on, and you’d find problems to fix right there. And, with two weeks to work on it—I sent it in via three-day air, so they’ve had from Thursday two weeks ago to today—you’d think they’d be able to get it back to me in tip-top shape, or at least send me a refurbished unit while they fix mine up for somebody else.

Today, not having seen my beloved tablet for two and a half weeks, I called Gateway to find out what happened to it. They let me know right away: just today, they’ve sent it back to me. It should arrive on Monday. What’s more, he told me, they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

They’re sending it back unrepaired.

Never mind the fact that I delineated each and every problem to them over the phone and made double-sure they had it all. Never mind the fact that it had so many problems, there’s no possible way you wouldn’t be able to find one. What really burns my pancakes is that they took two weeks not to find anything wrong with it. Apparently, blithely ignoring blatant, crippling problems takes time.

When I get my computer back Monday, I’ll try it out. If it, miraculously, works—if that fellow was wrong—and all eight of those problems have been fixed, I will made an addendum to this post and perhaps even revise the title. If it does not, I will ask for a new computer; I’m not sending mine back until I have a working one in my hands.

For now, I will advise you this: do not buy from Gateway.

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6 Comments »

  1. A whole half of an hour of battery life? Yeesh, that sounds like my laptop (an HP.)

    It’s also continually ACQUIRING NETWORK ADDRESS

    FOREVER

    …and yet here I am, online.

    Comment by Andrew — November 17, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

  2. Hey, I know an Andrew with an HP laptop! …And a Homestar Runner hoody!

    Am I speaking to this Andrew?

    Comment by Tina Russell — November 17, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

  3. Hi Tina
    I am shopping for a Tablet Notebook right now and recalled this bog post. I checked back to make sure not to consider the product you wrote about.

    I did consider an HP supercomputer tablet with everything including Vista Home Premium. But it is more than I need and HP products seem to have issues too.

    My important programs are either Open Source or Old Win98 Engineering programs.

    Lenovo/IBM has their X-61 tablet PC on sale for $999. IBM gives me the option to stay with XP. Is there any reason to get Vista? Will it enhance the tablet function. I will be using it with One Note mostly to make engineering sketches.

    I have a 3 year old IBM Thinkpad I bought off EBay for $220. It has been used so much that the keys have letters worn off but is still rock solid and dependable with 6 hour battery life using a 9 cell battery or four hours with a standard 6 cell battery (no exageration!) Lenovo always has a deals on canceled orders or “scratch and dent” http://stores.channeladvisor.com/LenovoOutlet/Notebook/

    My Question is:
    Is Vista needed for good performance of the tablet?

    Is Ubuntu an option for tablets?

    Thanks for Your time. And Thank You for your good thought provoking writings.
    John

    Comment by John — March 26, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  4. Hey! Sorry I’ve forgotten to fill everyone in on my tablet situation.

    I now write this on the very tablet you mentioned: the ThinkPad X61! I can proudly say I recommend it quite highly. It’s light, compact, modular, great screen, reasonably powerful, etc. The only problem is that I’m super in love with the 1400×1050 resolution (SXGA+), which is now pretty rare; Lenovo phased them out (as have most tablet manufacturers, sadly), and I got one of the last few. (This was fairly recently, though. The other resolution, 1280×800, is fine, I’m just a sucker for detail. There might be some SXGA+ units around, someplace.)

    I haven’t used Vista, much. I keep it around in case I need to use it, which I haven’t so far. Ubuntu is an option for tablets, but sadly, it takes some tweaking; I usually consult the ThinkWiki page here:

    http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Installing_Ubuntu_8.10_(Intrepid_Ibex)_on_a_ThinkPad_X61_Tablet

    The geekery is fairly straightforward, but rather involved (lots of editing text files as root, etc.). If you don’t know what any of it means, that’s understandable. I’m available to help if you have any questions. I’m very happy with Ubuntu on my tablet, but then again I’m a nerd with the kind of patience needed to get it working 🙂

    HP products (especially their laptops) do sound like they have issues. I know they have a fakey “tablet” that they sell that doesn’t even have a digitizer, just a “dumb” touchscreen, so no hovering, pressure sensitivity, second click, etc. I would avoid that, certainly!

    Comment by Tina Russell — March 27, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  5. Hi Tina
    Thanks for the great info. I did not even consider screen resolution. Lenovo just stopped the X-61 sale so I’m out of the market for a custom built unit. Plenty of refurbs but they will need upgrading and are locked into Vista (No XP downgrade). Also noticed that screen resolution is only 1024 X 786.

    My second choice is

    http://tinyurl.com/HPtx2-1020us

    Its screen is 1280 x 800. I got to play with it in the store and it suites my needs for technical sketching. It is not pressure sensitive which means I would still have to plug in my graphics tablet if I wanted to do fancy shading. The X61 specs say nothing about pressure sensitivity. Could you comment on that.

    I’m almost ready to consider a Wacom 12 inch Cintiq for the same price. The Cintiq will usable long after the computers are obsolete.

    http://tinyurl.com/Cintiq12x

    Thanks

    Comment by John — March 27, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  6. Oh! That’s right, they have the X200 now. I stuck with X61 just for resolution, but I hear the X200s (that’s the ones that are 1280×800) are pretty good machines, with plenty of features the X61 doesn’t have. (Better graphics, brighter screen, option for built-in camera, option for 3G broadband adapter, etc.)

    Pressure sensitivity is present in all reputable tablet computers; I’m pretty sure it’s just the HP one that doesn’t have an actual digitizer. (That’s the magic word, “digitizer,” that confirms its a real tablet and not a passive touchscreen.) So, my machine has pressure sensitivity, and the stylus it comes with has an extra button as well as an eraser end, which is cool. (I think that’s pretty common, but that Gateway POS I had before didn’t have it. And, if there’s no digitizer, there won’t be a possibility for extra buttons.)

    In fact, one big advantage of Cintiqs is that, besides being much, much bigger in physical size than any tablet screens (and with better resolution as well), is that I believe they have tilt sensitivity as well as pressure sensitivity. (…I think! I know that tilt sensitivity is rare and tends to be on high-end, dedicated tablet monitors.) So, if you want a tablet to do design work at home, a Cintiq is a pretty good bet. Its main drawbacks, of course, are that it’s not a computer, it’s not portable, and it’s expensive.

    Comment by Tina Russell — March 27, 2009 @ 3:11 pm


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