Monday, May 24, 2010

Death of a Netbook

It was bound to happen but I didn’t know it would end this way. Last Friday, my trusty ASUS Eee PC 1000HE netbook died as a result of accidental coffee spillage at McDonald’s. I knew I would have to eventually get a new netbook at some point, but I was hoping that it would be due to obsolescence and not as something stupid having coffee being spilled on it.

Although replacing the netbook would definitely be an inconvenience, it is not what irks me about the whole incident. I guess I’m more bothered by the woman who bumped into me causing me to drop my coffee into my computer. Sure, she apologized but it did not seem very sincere. She said that she was sorry but that she had to go because she was running late and had to pick up her son from school. She did not offer to fix my computer, nor did she leave me any way of contacting her. She just gave me some napkins, apologized a couple of times, and then left. I looked like a putz shaking my netbook around trying to dry it.

At this point, there’s nothing I can do. My memory of what she looked like is already fading away and I doubt anyone would just step up and say it was them.

Before the day was over, I did manage to buy a replacement netbook. I picked-up a Toshiba NB305 netbook at BestBuy. Thank goodness for my ‘rainy day’ fund.

I did learn a couple of things about this experience. I was reminded that one should never drink near laptops. You can replace a desktop keyboard if you spill coffee into it, but it's a lot more detrimental when it happens to a laptop. Also, I learned not to expect everyone to be good people and do the honorable thing. In a situation like mine, if I had to do it again, I would have asked for her name and her contact information up front and to let her know that I might need her to cover the repairs. I guess now I know and knowing is half the battle.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sharp Electronics is Pure Awesomeness!

If you've been following my blog posts or my tweets, you'd know that I've been having problems with my less than 1-year old Sharp BD-HP22U Blu-ray disc player and was eventually instructed to send it back to Sharp for repairs. When I came home yesterday, I was surprised to see that my Blu-ray player was quickly returned to me and I'm ecstatic to tell you that it is now working flawlessly.

I'm not sure what was exactly wrong with my BD player. I haven't been re-contacted by Sharp to explain what was wrong and what they did to fix it, but based on the amount of time it was with them, the fix must have been simple. I'm going to guess that they flushed out the old firmware and replaced with a new one, but that's just speculation. I'll let you know once I hear something from them.

At this point, I want to give credit where credit is due. I want to thank a few people at Sharp for helping me fix my blu-ray player.

I want to thank Martha Harvey at Sharp's Strategic Marketing & Communications Division in Mahwah, New Jersey for responding to my tweets and connecting me to right people to troubleshoot my player. I believe Martha is the person (if not one of them) who is behind @Sharp_USA on Twitter.

I want to thank customer specialists Neybel Martinez and Athanasios “Tom” Tolios at the Customer Assistance Center in Romeoville, Illinois. Neybel listened and worked with me to troubleshoot my player and Tom helped me in shipping it to them when we ran out of things to try.

All in all, I'm very happy at the response that I got from Sharp. It's very rare to find a company that a company that actually listens to their customers and are willing to help them solve their problems. What I experienced with Sharp has made me a true fan. I now feel a lot more confident in choosing them to meet my electronics need and I make no hesitation to recommend them to others.

Again, thank you Sharp for fixing my blu-ray player. You've just made this ByteMonkey into a happy monkey.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bluray Player goes to Romeoville, Illinois

Somewhere in Romeoville, Illinois, my Sharp BD-HP22 Bluray player is being looked at by some repair guy working for Sharp. Hopefully, he or she will know how to get my Bluray player back in working condition.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been posting on twitter about how my Sharp Bluray player stopped playing new Bluray discs after upgrading to their new firmware. I did the upgrade because I wanted to watch the recently released Avatar Bluray disc without having the "popping time-line" glitch on my less-than-a-year-old player. The upgrade seemed like a simple process at the time. What I didn't realize at the time was that by doing the firmware upgrade that it would stop playing any of my new Bluray movies (more specifically 50GB DL type discs; old BD movies played fine).

After tweeting for about a week, @Sharp_USA finally contacted me and we did some troubleshooting through email but none of the things we tried worked. They finally asked me to ship the player to them to look at and hopefully repair it.

As of today, the FedEx tracking says that it made it to the address where I was shipping it to. So now we wait to hear what they have to say about the player. It's truly maddening to think about what I had to go through to just watch a Avatar at home.

Overall, I think the Bluray industry needs to be more clear and upfront about what will and will-not play on their players. There really needs to be clear markings and labels on all players still being sold to avoid confusion. Plus, not everyone out there will be comfortable doing a firmware update especially if it involves more than a button click. Unfortunately, these people will end up being at the mercy of people like Best Buy who charges $30 and some change to do the firmware update for you.

Right now, I'm seeing a lot of older model Bluray players going on clearance but stores typically won't label them "old model" since they want to sell them. I just feel sorry for the next guy who has to go through the insanity that I endured just so we could watch a movie at home.