Toshiba Computer Woes

I was very happy when I was given money to buy a new notebook computer for my Bible translation support work, over a year ago. I carefully researched options, and it came down to two choices: a Toshiba Satellite P35 or a very similar Dell notebook computer. They were about the same, but the Toshiba was a few dollars cheaper. I chose wrong.

Shortly after I got the computer delivered all the way to me in Papua New Guinea, this Toshiba computer developed display problems. The display started to flicker in a way that was most annoying. I sent it off to the nearest warranty repair center in Port Moresby. After about a month, I got it back. Just as I was getting all my programs and data reloaded, the display went black. There was stuff on the display alright, but you couldn’t really see it without a really intense light on the display at just the right angle, because the integrated backlight failed.

Back to Port Moresby, it went. After about 2 months, it came back. I got all of my programs and data reloaded on it, and started working again. After using it for a while, it started randomly rebooting, so I sent it back again. After another 2-3 months, it came back. It worked for about 2 months, then suddenly died and would not boot.

So, I sent it back to Port Moresby again, for repair under warranty. That was in January, 2006, just before the warranty expired. When I was going to leave the country in July, the repair center had still not repaired the computer. I had them return it to me so that I could take it with me to the USA to a competent repair center. With some begging, I was able to get Toshiba to honor their warranty, and they sent it back to me in about 2 weeks. That was a big improvement over Papua New Guinean repair times! Enclosed with the computer was an offer to extend the warranty at a discount within 30 days of the service event. I tried to do that, and they told me that they would not, because the warranty had expired.

Now, this same Toshiba computer has developed a nasty habit of randomly resetting itself or invoking the dreaded Microsoft Windows blue screen of death with a MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION. This indicates a serious hardware error, not a software problem. Now Toshiba does warrant their repairs to be good for 30 days, so there is hope. All they want me to do is reinitialize the system to as-shipped condition and see if the problem is still there. Then, they’ll consider taking it back for repair. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep the system running long enough to do a complete system backup before wiping out the disk image that represents 22 days of work updating the operating system, installing compilers, Bible study software, specialized Bible publishing software, my source code, databases, email, etc.

In the mean time, I’m typing this on the “temporary” inexpensive Dell Inspiron B120 that I bought to tide me over until the faster, “nicer” notebook computer was repaired. This beautiful little machine has never failed me. May God bless it and may God bless Dell.