The good, bad and ugly of new computer setup

While visiting my parents the past couple of weeks, my father purchased a new computer at Costco. He purchased an HP Pavilion with a 24-inch LCD monitor.  I had about a week to get it setup for him and here are my observations.

The Good:

  1. A lot of computer for the price and the 24-inch monitor is gorgeous.
  2. Excellent documentation.
  3. Reached HP Technical Support in under three minutes
  4. Core 2 Duo chip is sweet. It’s a very fast machine.
  5. HP didn’t pre-load it with too much crapware.
  6. For the most part, Vista wasn’t too annoying when UAC was off.
  7. Very well built black case that’s easy to open because HP was smart to include finger screws.
  8. Clean and organized internals including good cable management.
  9. The computer is dead silent. No loud fans at all.
  10. System restore was easy to find, understand and fast to perform.

The Bad:

  1. Onboard sound didn’t work. MP3s cracked and hissed.
  2. Monitor stand takes some time to get used to, but it adjusts in many directions making it easy to find the right height.
  3. Vista with UAC turned on is a terrible experience. Turn it off under USERS in Control Panel.
  4. USB ports on monitor could be easier to reach.
  5. Symantec suite of products tries to take over your system. It’s nearly as bad as Real products. At least it’s easy to uninstall.
  6. HP Printers still have sketchy Vista support. One of my dad’s printers required a fairly complex workaround.
  7. iTunes and Vista don’t play well together. When my mom’s Shuffle was connected, messages would pop up every few minutes asking to scan and fix the iPod’s drive. I ran into the same problem when I ran Vista.

The Ugly:

  1. The onboard sound didn’t work from day one so I called HP technical support and was told I’d have to perform a system restore before they would dispatch a tech to the house. I did that but when they called to talk to my dad, they told him they would only come to the house if he paid $181 for a 2-year extended warranty.

Overall, the experience of purchasing and setting up a new computer is much better than it was even five years ago. Running Windows Update found about 10 software and driver updates which seemed like a bit much but it’s good to see that Vista ran quite well on new HP hardware. I would not recommend Vista to those who want to upgrade current machines from XP, but getting a new machine with Vista was a better experience.

I’m bummed that the sound doesn’t work on this computer and I’m angry that my dad got taken advantage of by some punk at HP. My dad had tossed the boxes or we would have just returned it all to Costco and asked for a new system. Lesson learned.

But to keep things in perspective, the computer is much faster than his older system I built him about 4 years ago. It’s much more quiet too. I think he’ll enjoy the way Vista handles pictures and other media files. He also seems to like Outlook 2007 along with the other Office 2007 applications. A HP technician is coming to his home on Thursday to fix the sound problem which will likely require swapping the motherboard.

Hopefully, he’ll be up and running with sound shortly. I wonder if Costco knows or cares how HP technical support is taking advantage of customers who bought machines with a clear defect? I think they would and should care.

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