Fully Configurable Laptops

August 11, 2010

I always dread having to get a new laptop. Finding the exact mix of hardware that I want can be very tough. Yet it is the software configuration that drives me completely bonkers.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new laptop. It had been almost four years since my last laptop purchase and it was definitely time. Now I may return it because it has been a software nightmare.

I fully understand that many users want a computer to come fully configured. I don’t. When I’m given a choice of which operating system to have pre-installed, I’m looking for the choice of “none”. We have a Microsoft subscription to Windows so I don’t want to be forced to “purchase” a copy of Windows when I don’t need it. This also applies to the office software. Where is the choice of “none”? I also have a subscription to Microsoft Office and don’t want it pre-installed. Ditto for anti-virus and other “helpful” utilities.

When I got the new laptop last week, the first thing I did was to complete delete all hard drive partitions and create my own. I’m very picky and I want three partitions on my machines: C for Windows, D for software and E for data. Once I created the desired partitions, I installed the version of Windows I wanted on the laptop. A disc was provided with all of the drivers and so I then installed the drivers. That’s where the problems started. I couldn’t get the driver for the wireless adapter to allow me to turn it on and off. I spent a couple of hours on my own trying to get it to work before calling support. My first call was to the retailer who promised “concierge support”. They didn’t really provide support as they simply called the manufacturer. The manufacturer said my serial number didn’t exist and therefore they couldn’t help. They admitted that it was a paperwork snafu on their side and that it should be fixed in 2-3 days. At that point I could get support.

So I patiently waited for that time to pass and called again. The support representative tried all kinds of different things, but nothing that I hadn’t already tried. They offered to send me a new hard drive with the original disk image on it. I explained that I would simply reformat it immediately so please don’t bother sending it. Then they offered to send a new wireless card to a technician who would come out and install it. Some users aren’t comfortable installing things like that, but anyone with a screwdriver can do it. Last I heard, they were going to send me that card so I could install it myself. Of course they called back two days later to say that the notes from our hour and a half long call were lost and they weren’t sure what they were supposed to do.

Is it really that hard to send me a “naked” laptop with a driver disc that works? That’s really all I want. It would cost me less since I wouldn’t have to “pay” for Windows, Office and other junk I don’t want. And it would save me the hassle of having to remove what was included.

The only good news is that I can build my own desktop machines so I don’t have to go through the same nightmare as when buying a laptop.

Post Discussion


  1. MadDog

    I’ll bite, if you don’t want to share the mfgr name, can you share the hardware that it sports? I may be in market soon for my first laptop (retirement looms ahead). I’m interested in a rig that I can use in lieu of the desktop I built 3 years back.

  2. Foster D. Coburn III


    The computer was a Dell as sold by CostCo. The only good service I got was when I returned the computer to CostCo for a full refund. Since the laptop was such a disaster, I can’t recommend it.

    I have since ordered a different laptop from HP. Should it function as claimed, I’ll fill everyone in after I’ve had time to test it.

  3. Daniela

    I can totally relate to this, having gotten a new laptop myself few months ago.
    I would add also that I would like to have the option to configure the hardware: take out what I don’t need, but add what I need.
    Like small form (12 to 13″ is good, at home I use a second monitor) and 16 GB ram, the fastest processor there is and med size HD (I use externals for my files), lots of USB ports and dual display ports, you know, stuff like that.
    Dell was pretty good at that, but the limitations were still there, I couldn’t build one from scratch, I had to work within the parameters of one machine….


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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