Laptop repair recommendations? Or new laptop?

My Dell inspiron 700M USB ports died and the touch pad is extremely erratic. (Plus we can't get the networking to actually network but that's a different story). I've uninstalled and reinstalled the USB drivers several times, run a number of diagnostics, and Dell seems to think I'm made of money and can spend $500 to repair a machine that I bought new for $1,100 18 months ago. Dell, IMO, is going downhill in quality since my older Dell laptop and my friend's Dell desktop bit the dust after not too much time and use.

I've spent more time on tech support calls than I've spent working the past week. Anyway, Dell said "it might be the motherboard ($500 pre-paid) or it might be something simpler ($200). But, it's probably the motherboard." I refuse to pay $500 to repair the thing for only a 3 month warranty when I could put that towards a new one.

So, advice? Anyone know of reputable and cheaper repair places that will actually give you an estimate before taking your money (Dell requires payment up front and no refunds - they fix it or else). And, would it be better to just buy a new one?

If so, I use it for photos, travel and chasing so I need portable (lightweight), wifi, DVD/CD RW, and fast enough processor speed to not hang up on RAW files in Photoshop. It's not my primary photo 'puter but an on the road one so no need for huge screen, etc. And, I haven't won the lottery so.......
 
How long of an original warranty did you get? I've always had fantastic mail-in experience from Dell support... Then again, I've gotten the 3 or 4yr warranties so I don't need to worry about breakdowns much. Many times extended warranties don't get you much; but for things like laptops and other electronics that take a beating during chasing, I think the warranty is worthwhile. Last time I sent the laptop in, they picked it up Friday evening, and I had it back in my hands Tuesday afternoon -- not too shabby of a turn-around time considering it was the weekend.

But, iMO, if you are going to spend $500 to replace something, you are better off putting that money towards a new laptop. Watch for deals on www.supercoupons.com and other similar sites, and you'll occassionally find a 40% off coupon code that can save you loads of money.
 
Couple questions:

Do you only have one USB port? So it's a necessary you need that one?

Do you have a PCMCIA slot? If you don't know it's a slot for cards to go in. If you have one of these you can buy a PCMCIA card that has two USB ports for $20 off Ebay.

As for the touchpad, if there is nothing wrong with the settings- you could buy an external mouse to use off one of the USB ports from the PCMCIA card.

As for Dell, I got the Inspiron 6000 in Janurary and the Keyboard engineering is AWFUL! Several keys are becoming unresponsive and My backspace key literally broke off. I plan on sending it back in for warranty repairs in a couple months.

Hope that helps,
Scott.
 
Alas, I have 2 USB ports, both dead, no card slot, a very weird touchpad, no way to get photos from my recent chase vacation to my desktop except by uploading the RAW files to one of my websites and downloading them again (the networking isn't working either) and I'm seriously considering a business lease on an HP since I just sent in my last car payment. I'm so so *&^%&*( at Dell and it's always something. Plus, all the bills for those Days Inns and $5,000 tanks of gas are going to be coming in soon. I guess I'm destined to never be rich.

Finally, at least, a dry day in Boston. The grill is fired up and ready to go for the first time this season.
 
If I was in your position, I would just put the money towards getting a new one.

As far as retrieving your files, if you have access to a desktop and a little technical savvy, you could buy a laptop hard drive to ide cable adapter and use that to access them.
 
I've had good luck so far with my inspirion 6000 i bought a year ago, ive had zero problems besides xp hangs up when shutting down sometimes, sorry you guys had problems. I paid 976 bucks for it while watching supercoupon as Jeff suggested and hit the sale just right. Only thing i wish i would have upgraded was the dvd to a dvd burner. I hear the toshiba notebooks are awesome too, but a little pricey.
 
I have a Toshiba laptop paid 1800 for it and it was even a open box item that was in 2004. I have not had any problems with this computer until a few months ago. The power jack in the back of the computer is bad and my battery is having problems while the AC power is plugged in. I went looking on the net and found that these computers have power problems and motherboards that go bad. I have also heard their customer service is bad too.

Jay
 
Erika,

Unfortunately this can happen to any brand, regardless of the quality. I usually shun extended warranties for most products but a laptop would be the exception due to the complexity and expense of repair. $500 sounds about right to get Dell to replace the motherboard, but you could ask them what the motherboard itself would cost and then find somebody to install it.. they're tricky but not impossible for somebody competent to do.

I agree with Jeff's assesment in that you would likely be better to put the money towards something newer... but don't forget the warranty! Don't be swayed by comments like "brand X is crappy because my computer died after blah blah blah.." like I said, it can happen to any brand.. that's the gamble of electronics... unless a particular model has demonstrated a consistent track record of failures.
 
It sounds like you've not used the "nuclear option" and restored the OEM image. That of course has its drawbacks.

An alternative is to temporarily install a completely different OS. How to do this? What worked for me is to get a CD of SimplyMEPIS at MEPIS Linux store. This Linux distro is entirely self-configuring and booting off the CD; and it recognized and mounted most everything on my HP laptop including NTFS, USB drives, and their traditionally quirky video. Doing this should establish if you really have hardware problems.

The MEPIS boot is also handy to have around if/when(!) your MSW hangs and you need to get files off the disk.
 
Dave, I did do the nuclear solution - the laptop is a paperweight anyway - and it didn't work. Reformatted the HD, installed a new OS last night and, nothing. No USB ports, touchpad screwy and, wouldn't you know - before and after doing this, my CD/DVD RW drive wasn't working properly.

Ok, so now I'm looking at laptops. $500 for repair is not what I want to be doing. I've been hearing bad things about Toshiba support and I won't buy another Dell at this point. HP is pricey for what I want (and they'll only do a business lease on their business models, which don't offer what I want). Anyone experienced with other brands? Friends are seriously trying to talk me into an iBook but.....
 
I have a Toshiba laptop paid 1800 for it and it was even a open box item that was in 2004. I have not had any problems with this computer until a few months ago. The power jack in the back of the computer is bad and my battery is having problems while the AC power is plugged in. I went looking on the net and found that these computers have power problems and motherboards that go bad. I have also heard their customer service is bad too.

Jay
[/b]

I too have a Toshiba with the same problem. The power socket and plug on the back has gone bad - the center socket pin has become loose - thereby causing sporadic power loss and shutdown. I've remedied this fairly well by inserting toothpicks in between the plug and the socket to shim tighten it up - kinda crude but it beats getting a new ($$$$) motherboard. Toshibas (including mine) have a overheating and auto shutdown problem too - taking the cpu cover off on the back and cleaning the heatsink helps :

http://forums.computingreview.com/

Best advice - DON'T buy a Toshiba !

Jon Miller
KT8NDO
 
John-
I bought a brand new AC Connector , but problem is I can't seem to be able to find out what screws i need to remove to replace this. Thanks for the tooth pick trick I'll give that a whirl.


Jay
 
Dave, I did do the nuclear solution - the laptop is a paperweight anyway - and it didn't work. Reformatted the HD, installed a new OS last night and, nothing. No USB ports, touchpad screwy and, wouldn't you know - before and after doing this, my CD/DVD RW drive wasn't working properly.

Ok, so now I'm looking at laptops. $500 for repair is not what I want to be doing. I've been hearing bad things about Toshiba support and I won't buy another Dell at this point. HP is pricey for what I want (and they'll only do a business lease on their business models, which don't offer what I want). Anyone experienced with other brands? Friends are seriously trying to talk me into an iBook but.....
[/b]

Fujitsu computers are among the finest.. Ebay has a Fujitsu Direct sotre. you can frequently buy a 1500 laptop for 8 or 900 dollars..

Dont take my word for it though.. go to LINK HERE** Notebook Forums

Go there and read what everyone says about every manufacturer.. Including Fujitsu.. Then go back to Ebay and check out the Fujitsu direct store..

Of course Fujitsu is my second choice.. Panasonic toughbook is my first.. I cant afford one though.. 3k +

I know Mike P will concur on the Fujitsu.. B)

Fred

My 2c
 
I too have a Toshiba with the same problem. The power socket and plug on the back has gone bad - the center socket pin has become loose - thereby causing sporadic power loss and shutdown. I've remedied this fairly well by inserting toothpicks in between the plug and the socket to shim tighten it up - kinda crude but it beats getting a new ($$$$) motherboard. Toshibas (including mine) have a overheating and auto shutdown problem too - taking the cpu cover off on the back and cleaning the heatsink helps :

http://forums.computingreview.com/

Best advice - DON'T buy a Toshiba !

Jon Miller
KT8NDO
[/b]


Also had the same problem with a Gateway. Have you tried taking it to a local repair shop? Gateway wanted to replace my entire motherboard also, since thats what the plug was attached to. I ended up taking my laptop to a local guy who pulled the entire thing apart, and superglued the power connector back together the right way for like 70 bucks, which isnt bad considering the amount of time it took him to take it apart and put it back together. It held fine for another year until I sold it and got a new laptop. Just a thought, especially if you use your laptop mostly for vehicular use and not as your main computer.
 
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