Tech Talks on Laptops

Laptop comments – Makito Kanabe

I present to you a quick lowdown on most seen repairs at one of the major electronics retailer’s repair centers I work at.

As a senior repair tech, I definitely prefer Toshiba laptops, but only Tecra or Protégé series.

A five year warranty should be a first sign that the company is committed to quality enough to seriously warrant it. If you disassemble these units, it is evident that additional care has been taken to shield and properly insulate sensitive components and reinforce stress points as necessary.

HP/Compaq is more recently using refurbished parts, which they like to pass on as “recertified” (although they do make decent laptops at very affordable prices).

Here are my comments on specific models:

  • Toshiba Satellite 1110 (1100 series): Fairly solid aging laptop. Difficult access to HDD – requires removal of entire LCD and top cover. Prone to cracking at the LCD hinges – be gentle.
  • Toshiba Satellite 1800 series: Serious overheating problems. This is a known problem at Toshiba engineering but nothing can be done due to limited space and aging product ( I believe there’s a class-action suit in progress).
  • Toshiba Satellite 5200 series: Excellent product, probably one of Toshiba’s better laptop. Best screen I’ve seen to date – pixels are very difficult to discern. Too bad it’s already aged and only available at up to 1.4G hz P4.
  • Toshiba Satellite A70 series: Known issue with first generation units freezing or failure to POST due to case ground-out/short. Units must be sent back to factory for adjustment and/or cover replacement.
  • Toshiba Satellite Tablet series: New all plastic, consumer affordable version from Protégé. First run units appear to have uneven chassis – not really serious, but can be annoying.
  • Toshiba Protégé 3500 Tablet series: Very nice and extremely tough due to manganese-alloy casing throughout. I have one and it’s taking a serious beating.
  • Toshiba Qosimo series: No known serious defects yet as it is quite new, but engineering sacrificed metal casing for all plastic to enter market at affordable price.
  • Compaq 1200 series: Decent product, although nearly obsolete. FDD and HDD most common failures due to age. Parts becoming harder to source.
  • Compaq 900 series: One of the last pre-HP merger laptops from the original Compaq engineering teams. Moderate durability, no serious faults. Prone to cracking at LCD hinges.
  • Compaq ze5000 series: First generation laptops prone to overheating issues – resolved by replacing with redesigned heatsinks. Some first and second run laptops had faulty motherboard prone to sudden death without warning.
  • Compaq Presario 2210 series: Newer laptop. Some batches appear to be affected with faulty BIOS/RTC batteries.
  • HP N5400 series: CPU fans wear out fairly quickly. Easy to break power connector.
  • Cicero D220: Noisy little guy. Faster models are very easy to overheat – keep well ventilated. Built in battery, not user swappable.
  • Gateway Tablet First Generation: Very decent laptop, kudos for having anti-glare coating on the screen. Cover latch will unlock and open if top is rotated at all – design flaw. Initial run of laptops had faulty central hinge prone to failure.
  • Averatec 6000 series: Horrible battery life, from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Moderately temperature sensitive.
  • Averatec 2100 series: Prone to LCD problems and flimsy latches.

  • Averatec 2000 series: Flimsy latches, questionable engineering fault. Initial run laptops have high motherboard failure rates.

Caveat Emptor

Makito Kanabe

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