"Good product marred by poor support"4.0 starson by AXG
Pros: It has everything that I could think of at reasonable price
Cons: The 12 cell battery sticks out too far, the imprint finish is prone to smudges
Summary: I recently had a very bad experience with HP support when I purchased this laptop. I ordered the laptop on 10/20/06 fully loaded with 2GB RAM, 2Ghz processor, bluetooth, lightscribe DVD writer, 12 cell battery, 256MB display card, HP imprint finish with integrated webcam and microphones etc. The laptop was shipped from Shanghai, China (I always thought HP made these laptops in US) on 10/27/06 and was delivered to me on 10/30/06. Very impressive.
I opened the box There was nothing much in it by the way of packing. I was surprised to see laptop shipped from China to US supported on just two foam pieces. Maybe because FEDEX has its own planes, they can take care of stuff better.
I had also purchased HP's most expensive 3 year accidental damage protection and extended service plan.
One thing immediately caught my attention. The HP imprint finish is extremely susceptible to finger prints, smudges and scratches. On top of it, is it shiny black, so unless I was wearing gloves all the time while handling this laptop, it would get all smudged and smudges would show from a mile. Maybe this is why HP included a small microfiber cloth. But I realized that I will need several yards worth of it.
The setup was easy though I would have preferred that HP leave optional softwares to the user. Anyways, everything was working fine and I spent several hours downloading the Windows updates and doing other customizations and everything seemed to be working fine.
Then I decided to pair my Cingular 8125 Windows Mobile 5 smartphone with the built-in bluetooth. This is one of reasons I bought this laptop. I was tired of connecting the USB bluetooth dongle every time to my Acer Aspire laptop. No matter what I did, the 8125 would not ActiveSync with the DV6000t. I tried all possible solution given by everyone on the web but it just will not work.
Finally, on 11/1/06, I called the award winning technical support. After all, I had paid $349.99 extra for the support. I was on hold for about 10 minutes before I could speak to a live person. The moment I spoke to him, I was positive that this was outsourced support. The person took all my laptop details like part number, serial number, model number, date of purchase, my name, e-mail address, phone number, ZIP code, permission to contact via e-mail, if this was my first contact with support and so on. I was wondering if he would ever ask me what problem I was having, but finally he asked the big question: how can I help you today.
I told him the problem. He said: So your bluetooth is not working. Then he put me on hold for 2 minutes. He came back and asked what device I was trying to pair the laptop with? I told him that it was a smartphone. He put me on hold for another 2 minutes and then told me that this kind of issue is handled by another department and I would have to pay to get support. I told him that I had paid extra for support but he insisted that it was the only way available for me. I told him to put me through to a supervisor. He said that he had already told me the only way out. I insisted. He put me on hold for another 2 minutes and then told me that the supervisor was busy on another call and that even if I spoke to the supervisor, he will tell me the same thing. I was extremely upset. The additional support I had purchased clearly said that it covered any configuration issues.
I immediately called sales and returned the laptop. It was picked up today by FEDEX.
I liked the laptop. It gave me a battery life of 4 hours doing file transfers. Even then it was not fully discharged. The laptop was quiet in operation. The fan did turn on, but it did not make a loud noise. The speed of laptop was good. The ultrabright display was reflective and could not be used outdoors in sunlight. The webcam was good and the sound quality from built-in speakers was good. The wireless network worked fine. The laptop is well loaded with software. There is Quicken 2006 and Money 2006. There is a 60 day subscription to Norton Internet Security. Lot of DVD writing and lightscribe software. Microsoft Works is included with document, spreadsheet, various useful templates, e-mail etc. A 60 day trial version of MS Office 2003 was also installed.
If you are buying this laptop, make sure you take 120GB disk. The 100GB disk leaves only 70GB free. Normally, in a 100GB disk, there is only 92 GB usable space. Out of that, HP uses 8GB to create a recovery partition on D: drive. There is about 14GB worth of operating system and other software installs. If you create a recovery DVD from D: drive, you can free up the 8GB space. The recovery works very well. Before returning the lapop, I recovered it its factory condition and it took half an hour.
The laptop has an optional remote control which can control DVD player etc. The problem is that the IR receiver for that remote is very small( about pea size) and is located on the front panel, next to audio connectors. With the 12 cell battery sticking out of the bottom and the whole laptop sloping forward, I found it hard to operate anything with that remote.
There is a standard built-in 5-media type card reader. This is not mentioned anywhere in the specifications.
The laptop does not accept PCMCIA cards. It takes only the newer Express cards.
The media controls on the front panel are truly appealing. They light up as small blue icons and operate by touch (not pressure). The battery charger is on the side and the charger cable kind of sticks out. The charger also has a blue indicator around the connector to indicate charger is in use.
I do not understand why CNET has given a rating of 6.7. I had read this CNET review before buying this laptop and was bit cautious. The laptop however turned out to be a very good, much better than I had expected after reading a 6.7 review.
I loved this laptop but I felt cheated by the support policies. If the support had made any attempt to rectify the issue, maybe it could have been resolved or I might have made a compromise on bluetooth. I was irked at the fact the support person did not make any attempt to do any kind of troubleshooting. He did not even bother to ask if the bluetooth was turned on. He straightaway tried to make more money out of me. The support cost made up 20% of the total money I had paid and HP still wanted more!! Pathetic. To add insult to injury, HP e-mailed me a survey about my experience with technical support. I clicked on the survey and the first question is asked was "Did you contact HP technical support about a problem where it was determined that your laptop was out of warranty?"
Maybe I will buy the same laptop again but without the extended support.
Another thing which irked me about extended support was that even though I bought the support and laptop from HP in a single transaction, it was somehow my responsibility to activate the extended support. Why HP could not fill in all the details and send me a pre-activated support? All other laptop makers do that.Updated
I am loving this laptop. HP recently sent me the free Windows Vista upgrade as they had promised. I installed Vista and all HP drivers and application software were present on the DVD. I did not have any problems installing Windows Vista. With Vista, I am still getting 2.5-3 hours of battery life on a 12 cell battery AND with Windows Media Player playing my favorite songs. The speed is way better than Windows XP. It has been 5 months since I am using this laptop and my opinion has not changed a bit.
I had installed OpenSuSE Linux 10.2 on this laptop and the 64-bit distro worked just fine. It turns out that the T7200 Intel core duo is 64-bit processor. I had taken this processor as an option and paid extra for it. Obtaining 64 bit drivers for nVidia card was a challenge though.
I would also like to say that after I complained to HP corporate about my experience with tech support, their tech support has improved really.
The price on this laptop has dropped a little bit in the last 6 months. I am glad that HP sticks to their prices unlike some other companies who keep changing the price of their product several times a day.