Reality TV? Whatever, those shows are half staged because there’s a camera in the room. In conjunction with LAPTOP Magazine we’ve collected some REAL life laptop disaster stories from site visitors. These stories were submitted as part of a contest to provide the best hard luck laptop story, the top 5 stories appear below, each of the top five story authors get a free subscription to Laptop Magazine.
About LAPTOP Magazine: LAPTOP Magazine is a great monthly print magazine available on news stands and for subscription (1-year is only $12, that’s just $1 per issue), the magazine is always choc full of reviews for laptops and everything else mobile tech.
1. Starbucks Employee Kills an Apple PowerBook (Daniel)
I was at Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee and revising notes on my brand new 15″ Powerbook. As usual, I locked my notebook to another (empty) chair at the table in case I needed to step away for a bathroom break. A Starbucks employee approached and asked if he could use the chair. I replied, “Of course…” but before I could follow up with “… just let me unlock my notebook” …he grabbed the chair and pulled it away as I witnessed the following events unfurl before my eyes in super slow motion… … the cable pulled taught from the chair to my notebook … my notebook accelerated accross the table with the speed of a Formula 1 racer … as it sped across the tiny round table, the notebook impacted my cup of coffee knocking it over emptying the entire contents all over the keyboard … gravity proved constant and faithful as my notebook reached the end of the table and crashed spectacularly to the ground, wet and humbled A hushed “oooohhhh” eminated from every Starbucks patron as they froze and took in what had happened. Thankfully, Starbucks Corporate covered the cost of a new Powerbook. I was without a rig for about 3 weeks.
NotebookReview.com Says: That’s a tough story, sorry for your hassles here. But we’ll confess that seeing the Powerbook brought down by coffee and gravity would have been a pretty cool spectacle. Impressive that Starbucks agreed to buy a $2,000 replacement for you.
2. Sydney Vacation Disaster (wmunk2001)
My wife & I were on vacation in Sydney, Australia and being net-junkies, we both brought our laptops – hers a Toshiba A100 and mine an IBM T40. On the morning before we were to leave for home, I went to Paddys market to buy a trolley-bag to carry the stuff we had bought. Then we went out for a nice lunch at a fancy restaurant. We were really happy when we got back to the serviced apartment around 2.30pm, when we discovered to our horror that the room door had been forced open. Everything was a mess, and nothing had been taken – except for our two beloved laptops! All those pictures and stuff we had only just downloaded, gone. And how did they cart our laptops, adaptors, mice, etc away? Why, they used the new trolley bag I had so thoughtfully bought that very morning! As if it wasn’t bad enough, this happened on Christmas Eve. Our travel insurance did not cover for theft. It was the worst Christmas my wife and I have ever had.
NotebookReview.com Says: Laptops are commonly stolen, never leave them unattended in a hotel or the like. Use a laptop Kensington security lock if you do. Especially in Australia, you can’t trust anybody down there. Kidding, kidding. Australians are very nice people actually — except for that one scumbag that stole your laptop and bag.
3. Cheap College Student Kills Laptop With Not so Money Saving Instant Noodles (wildarms1)
Im a poor college student so the thing I eat most of the time for dinner is instant noodles. One day I was enjoying my cup of noodles then backside had the ocassional itch so I set the cup of noodles down next to the laptop, reached for my backside and relieved the itch. I raised my hand back up for the noodles and accidently smack the thing. It spilled all over the keyboard and into the heatsink air vent on the side. Exactly one second later, it made a slight buzz then the lcd screen turned white. After that, my half a year old compaq x1000 went to laptop heaven.
NotebookReview.com Says: We’re truly sorry to anyone grossed out by this.
4. Fiance Thinks Notebooks Are Supposed to Implode Every 15 Minutes (Josh)
When my girlfriend (now fiancee) and I first began talking, she informed me that she had purchased a new laptop and as she’s a non-techie I was rather proud of her choice of laptop. It enabled us to chat on the Internet when we couldn’t talk on the phone during our courtship (prior to her moving in). Funny thing was she would drop off often and I could only assume that her disappearance online was due to dial-up problems. This went on for months. So, right before she moves from Texas to California to live with me, she spills her Venti Soy Chai Extra-laptop killer into her keyboard. She then purchased an external keyboard to keep chatting until the time when her hero (insert corporate code jockey) could fix said problem. I was just dying to replace the keyboard and look like a superhero at little to no cost. We moved to California. I purchased a replacement keyboard on EBay for chump change. I then spent a few days scouring the Internet for a how-to explaining just how I should go about removing the old keyboard from her Compaq Presario 700US. So, HP purchased Compaq a few months prior. HP then decided to remove Compaqs white-paper server that explained such processes, so no luck. I finally found a site that showed how to change the keyboard. So I swapped the old one out and put the new one in. Great. I close her up, put 15 million screws back in place and boot the thing. It stays booted up for about 15 minutes and then freezes. So I assume I did something wrong (google: compaq evil 700us). After a little searching, I found out that Compaq had apparently shipped this entire line of laptops with a faulty heat sink (specifically the sink didnt actually touch the cpu). Are you kidding? So, my girl had gone over a year thinking that all laptops implode after about 15 minutes of use. You wonder why some people are scared to use computers. So, finally after a trip to the local computer vendor and a purchase of a tube of arctic silver ($9), removal of 15 million screws again, 2 minutes worth of smearing while avoiding my clothes, and 10 minutes of prayer, reinsertion of 15 more million screws and a promise to my girl to replace this piece of junk if it didnt work… it did. To save myself future grief… as painful as it was (being a die-hard PC user), I bought my girl an iBook. Problem solved. I will never buy from HP/Compaq because of the obfuscation surrounding the 700US.
NotebookReview.com Says: What a tangled web of communication and chain of disasters that is. You sound like a nice guy and certainly went out of your way. At least she didn’t get a bum deal on a life partner, just a laptop.
5. Never Let a Friend “Fix” a Notebook (rodinmax)
About two months ago my laptop started randomly shutting down. Its frequency grew steadily with each passing day and I began to get concerned. Then, one day it wouldnt even turn on and after calling Compaqs tech support they recommended that I hold down the power button with the battery and the power plug both unplugged. This fixed the problem, and again I was in my happy world of a laptop that functioned to my needs (with twice a week automatic turnoffs). A week later and my warranty was up, but I didnt think much of this. Literally less than a month after the warranty was up, and my laptop started shutting down after three or so hours of being powered on. This happened without fail and sometimes would happen after ten minutes of use. Extensive research and questioning of tech-savvy friends indicated that most likely it was my motherboard or an overheating problem. I asked some techs and they said it sounded exactly like a motherboard failure. Great. Motherboards are so expensive that it is more fiscally responsible to buy a new laptop than to replace a damaged motherboard. Operating under the assumption that my laptop had ingested a giant ball of dust without my knowledge and that perhaps this was causing overheating problems, I allowed my supposedly tech savvy friend to open up my laptop. After taking off the LCD, then the speakers, then the keyboard I was about sure that it was never going to be assembled into a working machine again. We find no dust buildup so the assembly process begins. After about three fourths of the 30 or so screws had been replaced, we found out that the speakers werent properly attached. Ridiculous. I told him to take it apart and put it back together right. Anyhow, he was like “no I got it” and he pulled at a wire and it snapped off the motherboard. A moment of stunned silence followed. After considering any number of retaliatory measures that I could exercise upon my clumsy friend, I finally decided that it was fine–after all I could buy an external sound processor and have sound anyway with the only downside being reduced performance. Days later, we decided wed check if it was the RAM. We took RAM from his laptop and put my old RAM into his computer. My computer booted and his didnt. Another moment of silence followed. “So I guess it was the RAM the whole time,” Josh says sheepishly. I was in disbelief that my laptop couldve been fixed with a mere 70 dollar purchase of replacement RAM. Now I have a slower, weaker, partially broken laptop and it runs so slowly because of the external sound card its ridiculous.
NotebookReview.com Says: Well at least your friend meant well. We recommend never having a friend fix a really expensive piece of equipment of yours if they’re not a certified repair person for the specific manufacturer hardware that needs fixing. You want to stay on good terms with friends, it’s easier to yell at some repair dude you don’t know if he screws up.
Laptop Dies Soon After Arrival — Replaced Desktop Computer then Dies too
My Laptop Hard Luck Story: I purchased my first laptop on Feb 2, 2005 from Dell ( Lattitude D610.) I received it on Monday, Feb 21st, 2005. I was amazed that the pruchase of a laptop would take such considerable time to recieve, but I quickly forgot about the agonizing wait because it was in my hands. I couldnt have recieved it at a better time since all my multimedia classes were begining to assign classwork. I promptly take it to school and proudly share it with several of my art professors. One of my professors was extremely excited, the semester prior we had had considerable issues in acquiring a notebook to display an installation art piece I had created. Unfortunately good news ends on a sour note. 6.5 hours after i first recieved the laptop I take it to my mothers place to show it to her, and the computer just does not turn on. I try reseating the memory, hard drive, optical drive, all to no avail. I call tech support, we do several tests, and he determines my mother board is dead. He tells me that they will send a DHL truck to pick it up the next day, and that as soon as he gets it they will have it repaired within 5 business days and have it back to me within 8 days. Things get worse. Tech guy calls me up the next day and tells me that they dont have the motherboard in stock, and that the repairs will be delayed by an additional 3-5 business days. Im depressed. From worse to horrid. So I have lots of multimedia projects to work on, so i decide to drive to my house and work on my home computer for the weekend (I go to school in Maryland and live in Pennsylvania…about a 2 hour commute.) I arrive at my place and my girl tells me she is having problems with my desktop. She says the screen is black. I turn it on…and the screen is very black. My motherboard is fried. 2 Motherboards in one week…..now i have to buy another computer. (I built my desktop about a year and a half ago.) I had no choice but to drive back down to MD, fight students to get a space on the lab computers to do my assignment.
NotebookReview.com Says: Huh, when it rains it pours.
IBM Laptop Period Key Breaks, Rage Ensues and Laptop Is Destroyed — Owner Asks for Laptop Back
I have been into computers since I got my first Motorola back in 92 (yes, they made killer computers back then). Notebooks became a hobby for me at first, then turned into my only systems. Their portability and recent power increases have allowed me to use these systems exclusively for my needs. A computer came to me through my work that was in need of assistance. Unfortunately for me, it was an IBM. I say this not because IBMs are bad (quite the opposite), but because they are the most proprietary machines in a proprietary industry. The same models often do not have interchangable parts, let alone models across their lines. I had done a repair job on an old Thinkpad 380, however, so I felt that I had some of the prerequisite skills to work on its distant cousin, the ThinkPad 300. Many IBM fans are probably going NOOOOO! There was a CPU failure. Knowing that many notebooks, even the old ones, had zif or slot drives attached, I cracked that baby open. Nope, soldered. No problem, I will just remove the motherboard. Nope, the motherboard has those weird screws that dont release without the tool. Well, I will just buy the whole base from eBay, and keep second most expensive part (the monitor) and the top half with all of the drives, etc, to get it operational. No problem there…except the new version (which I swear had the same model number) had a different type of connector for the monitor. It was a removable part, so I tried the old connection. IT DOESNT FIT INTO THE SAME PLACE. I take out the flat cable and manually insert it into the new connector…success. Except now the period does not work on the keyboard. That is somewhat an important key. It is now time to open the thing up again. It turns out that one of the keyboard connectors is about 1nm off from where it should be, thus causing an issue. (Mind you, EVERYTHING else is working to perfection, and I even managed to get a CPU upgrade on top of it P1MMX to P2). After a few times of bending and twisting, the predicable happens-the tiny metal connector breaks. Did I mention that you cannot buy the keyboard separately anymore from anybody? You actually have to buy the new base and keyboard. I finally cried…and took a hammer to my “new best friend,” thus ending this episode forever. Or so I thought. The person who owned the notebook asked for it back.
NotebookReview.com Says: This is another scene we’d like to have seen, either the destroying with the hammer part or telling the person it’s destroyed part — either would be entertaining.