The Computer Blackout Blues

July 13, 2009

At the end of a mostly good weekend, I tried to get on to my laptop to rip a CD. Nothing unusual, just wanted to put Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band onto my iPod. When I put the CD in and opened iTunes, however, my screen went all shimmery and then black. Uh oh. I tried to restart, with no luck (since when does hitting Ctl+Alt+Del twice not restart your computer? I don’t know, but I’m pretty upset about it!) so eventually I had to just use the power switch to turn the thing off. Fortunately, everything looked okay when it came back on. No sooner had my desktop come up, though, than the screen went black again. After much fiddling, I discovered that random things would make the screen flash back up–jiggling the wireless toggle, crazily moving my fingers over the touchpad–but it would quickly go black again.

I’ve had problems with my computer in the past, but this is the first time it’s been this bad. I hate to give up quickly, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out my screen is just done. So I may now be trying to buy a new computer before I leave for Florida.

Best Buy has a couple of comparatively economical options. For $399, I can get a Dell with a dual-core processor, 2 GB of memory, and a 160 GB hard drive or for $499, I can get an Asus with 3GB of memory and a 320 GB hard drive. Unfortunately, each has some downsides: the Dell has no webcam (I could buy one and mount it, but…) and, according to reviews, the graphics on the Asus leave something to be desired. Also, the extra $100 for the Asus doesn’t seem like that big a deal, except that it bumps the computer up into the next highest price class for the warranties at Best Buy, something I want to invest in. So the price difference actually ends up being closer to $200. The extra GB of memory isn’t worth it, but once you figure in the extra 160 GB of hard drive space and the webcam, it might be. I use my computer mostly to store music, videos, and pictures, along with the internet, email, and DVD viewing, so I don’t know if I really need the extra hard drive space. I’m not doing any intense gaming or anything like that. Both of these computers have around 15.5″ screens, which is another drawback–my old computer had a 14″ screen, and even that was a little big for me. But now you can’t really get much between the 15″ and the little bitty netbooks. So I think this is one thing I’m going to have to compromise on.

I just hate thinking that I’m going to have to spend at least $500 of the money I’d saved for Florida. There’s just really very little way to get around having a computer–I’ll need it for school in the Spring, anyway, and I was planning to skip taking a TV, and just watch Hulu and DVDs while I’m in Florida. There’s a computer lab in the apartment buildings, but I don’t want to have to go down there every time I want to check Facebook. It’s going to be hard enough as it is to keep in contact with every body at home! And, of course, I need to be able to update my blog frequently! 🙂

My old computer lasted just over 2 years. It wasn’t a really cheap computer, either. It was a pretty nice HP, but I guess I just didn’t take good enough care of it. It’s extremely frustrating to me, too, that the 2 year warranty had just expired when the screen went out. However, they had already replaced the motherboard and the battery once, so I guess I got my money’s worth out of the warranty.

If I have any tech-savvy readers who want to weigh in, please feel free to leave me a comment! Is it a mistake to go cheap and get the smaller hard drive? I’m just afraid that this one won’t last long, either, and I don’t want to wind up with another very expensive paperweight!


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