Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Agony of it All

Last week, as I minded my own business and began intensive work on a personal writing project that I aimed to finish, my computer decided it had enough.

Enough of me plugging in devices and using it for my own purpose. It wanted no more. The Gateway 830 GM had served me faithfully for over four years and it was sure its time had come.

The USB ports died. I first realized there was a problem Monday evening but thought little about it.

Tuesday morning, the external hard drive would not come up. So I thought it was the external device.

Then the computer wouldn't read my cameras. Or the printer. Or anything else, except for a very old scanner plugged in the back.

About the time I decided to unhook everything and haul it to Best Buy for a check up, everything worked again. So I backed up the hard drive and continued to work.

The next morning when I booted up, she was dead in the water where the USB ports were concerned. So I unplugged and headed to Roanoke.

The Best Buy guy, a young fellow attempting in vain to grow facial hair, said the problem sounded like a mother board issue. Of course while I had it on the counter his wireless mouse device worked properly in all ports so he could not be sure.

I lugged the thing back home. Of course when I set it back up, nothing worked.

A friend offered up her brother-in-law, who is a business computer technician. He could not come by until Friday, so I bid my time, limping along without the USB ports. It worked properly when he first arrive, but after a reboot everything was dead. After an hour he decided it was indeed some kind of serious problem and not a software or driver issue.

I had planned to replace the computer after Windows 7 was issued, (which happens in late October) not before, but since I really need a good working and reliable computer for my work, I knew my wallet would have to be a lot lighter.

Saturday I zipped around looking at computers. I took a little notebook and diligently wrote down model numbers, prices, RAM size, hard drive size, number of USB ports, card reader, etc etc. I visited two Walmarts, Staples, Best Buy, Sam's Club and Office Max.

Then I came home and looked at dell.com and other places.

After much discussion my husband and I decided I would buy an ASUS computer, because the tech guy and the Best Buy salesmen all swore that ASUS was the best component parts maker in the world and thus their computers must be the best on the market. Apparently they have been making computers for just a little while but parts for a very long time.

I ordered the computer online with pick up at Best Buy in Roanoke. Sunday afternoon we picked it up and returned home.

I began setting it up.

I noticed Sunday evening that the graphics looked fuzzy but I thought I simply needed to adjust settings. At one point I was concerned enough that I called the ASUS 24/7 tech hotline. I figured it wouldn't be too busy that time of day.

I received a recording.

The next morning, I began the set up process in earnest. Windows downloaded updates for a very long time. I used up a Norton Antivirus license, my last on a purchase that would let me put the thing on three PCs, and an MS Office license. Things were humming along.

And then I decided to see if the DVD player worked okay.

I put in a Lord of the Rings DVD. It would not show the picture properly. I had lots of pixel boxes all over the video.

Completely unacceptable, of course.

I then checked the device driver on my graphic card, fiddled with its settings, updated the driver - pretty much did everything I could except stand on my head.

Meanwhile, I started receiving a black screen and then it would come back with a notice that my graphics device had recovered from a serious error.

I called ASUS again, only to receive another recording. I checked their tech website in hopes of an online chat. No one ever appeared to help me out. I finally found a form I could fill out and request assistance. I sent off the request.

When no assistance was forthcoming after a couple of hours, I unplugged the ASUS and boxed it back up.

My husband and I went back to Best Buy and returned it.

Then I went around to several stores looking at brands and numbers again. I decided I wanted either a Dell or another Gateway.

Best Buy had a Dell and Gateway with similar specifications. The Dell was a little cheaper because it had fewer bells and whistles. I decided on the Dell.

Best Buy Roanoke didn't have it.

So we drove to Christiansburg at 8 p.m. to pick it up. We returned home about 9:40 p.m., because Christiansburg is not close.

So this today for a second time I have been setting up a new desktop. Norton was kind enough to allow me to transfer the license to this computer so I didn't have to pay for that again. I still had one license left on my MS Office so I installed that.

So far, so good. The Dell has withstood me for 7 hours now.

I did receive an email from the ASUS people about mid-day. Their response?

Do a full system restore. Hope that helps.

I do not recommend that brand of computer to anyone. I know parts can fail on any of them but their customer service certainly left me cold.


  1. Gosh, does this sound familiar! It's exactly what happened to my not so old HP...no USB device recognized. It went on from there, and I never did find out what was happening...I wasn't about to spend more money and more time on what seemed to be a failing machine. I had just gone through problems with it a few months back. I decided no more Vista...no more Windows. Went with a MacBook. Good luck with your Dell. I'd have gotten a Dell if I had gone Windows...

  2. Glad to hear you're up and running again, but sorry about the hassle! Computer problems are so frustrating. It's usually not a quick fix. Hope your new one lives a long and happy life.

  3. Yes, ASUS has been in the parts business for a long time, but being in the parts business doesn't translate into being in the computer business. Who knows what was wrong - probably some kind of driver/firmware/device incompatibility. Geeks like ASUS, but they know how to deal with all the quirks, too. That lack of compatibility is why I like Mac so much - they invented plug and play and MS still can't beat them. Mac has very tight controls on what goes into their machines, unlike PCs, where anyone can make parts for them. Best to stick with a big name, as you did, when buying a PC.

  4. "Agony" is an appropriate word in your title for this experience. I'm glad you're up and running!

  5. GRRRR. Hope the snags are over and done with. Happy new computer!

  6. Oh dear...so sorry about your computer troubles. They are so frustrating! Thank goodness you were able to do a backup. I don't have an external hard drive yet, but reading this is the kick in the pants I need to get one, I think.

    Enjoy your new computer!

  7. Sorry to hear about your problems.

    ASUS does indeed make some of the best computers in the world. Although people know them for the parts (most famously, motherboards) they have actually been manufacturing computers & laptops for years!

    In fact, a fairly large number of HP, Compaq, Dell & Gateway (as well as smaller brands like Medion etc) are actually rebranded ASUS computers! Dell, HP, Gateway and the such do NOT manufacture their own computers.

    Finally for Windows 7: any computer you purchase now is entitled to a Windows 7 upgrade for only $49.99 when it comes out.

    Good luck!


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