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The Saga Of A Busted Laptop

I do all of my writing and computer related work on a four year old Acer laptop.  I bought it as a refurbished unit from TigerDirect dot com.  It has a huge screen more than seventeen inches across diagonally and a full size keyboard with a separate keypad.  It had a 1.6 GHz processor with an eighty gig hard drive.  I had upped the memory from the standard half a gig to two.  It was shiny and beautiful.

However four years later the machine looks like it’s been through laptop hell.  The top lid was seriously cracked in four different places.  The cracks started all on their own without the machine being dropped or abused.  I remember looking up issues with this particular model and there was a recall a few years back from owners complaining about mysterious cracks in the casing.  But I missed out on that.  I just so happened to get one of the machines that manifested problems after the fact.  But eventually, I did drop it once about a year ago while it was in its bag.  The drop was only two feet.  But it landed right on its corner.  And as far as laptops go, this thing weighs a ton.  The force was enough to shatter the bottom casing that housed the CD/DVD drive.

Well, last week one of the cracks that first occurred finally revealed a bigger problem.  The crack turned out to be an indication that the left hinge was coming loose.  And last week, the hinge gave up the ghost and broke completely off.  The lid was still attached, but all the weight was being supported by the right hinge and with all that weight being held by only one side it would be only a matter of time before it failed as well.

I was thinking it was time to get a new laptop.  But right now I’m so broke I couldn’t afford to buy much more than a new tube of toothpaste without risking an overdraft on the bank account.  I was thinking a new laptop that would fit my needs would run at least fifteen hundred dollars.  Not good.

I got the idea of finding another laptop just like mine that had failed with a bad motherboard or hard drive and see if I could use it for parts to repair my laptop.  I went to eBay to see if I could find a suitable machine.

But when I got there, I found a used laptop like mine that was in perfect working order and the bid was only eighty bucks.  I had to borrow the money, but I decided it was worth at least two hundred.  I made my maximum bid and waited for the auction to end.

The price of the machine started to rise about an hour before the end of the auction.  But I managed to get the used laptop for about a buck fifty.  The machine arrived yesterday.  It was open and running and sitting on the kitchen table when I walked through the back door.  It looked just like my broken machine and I thought it was when I saw it.  The misses, who is the real technology specialist in the family, had already checked it out.  But when I saw it on the table I asked the misses why she had my computer open.  She’s welcome to use it but she never does.  I thought she might have had a problem with her own laptop, a Dell that she totally hates.

She laughed at me and pointed at the bag on my shoulder and said that my laptop was in my bag.  I was confused for a second.  How the hell did she get my computer out my bag?  When it finally dawned on my puny brain what had actually happened I had to laugh at myself as well.  I dropped the bag, ran to the bedroom to change my clothes, and ran back to the kitchen to check out the new machine.

It was beautiful.  It was obviously used with a few scratches and edges discolored from a little wear and tear, but the computer looked like my original machine just a few months after I had got it and before the cracks started mysteriously appearing.  I powered the new but used machine down and took out the old original machine.  I took the hard drive out of both and swapped them.  I took the additional memory out of the old machine and put it in the new one.  I powered it on and I had my beautiful machine back.

But I’m not through with the old machine.  It might still be banged up but it runs fine and is totally repairable.  The original plan of finding the parts necessary to get it working and looking good is still in motion.  I’ve already scoped out a couple of other matching Acer laptops that look like they might be good donors.  One of the machines is so banged up that its display isn’t being held by any hinges.  It’ll make a good test bed for taking these machines apart and putting them back together.  Who knows?  The misses and I could open our own eBay store and start buying and selling these things online.  That would be more than cool.  We just might give it a shot.

But one thing’s for sure, it looks like I have purchased my last brand new or refurbished laptop from a retailer.  While it might be true that some people out there are selling old laptops for way more than they’re worth, there appears to be some good machines out there that just need a little TLC.  And one person’s trash can always wind up somebody else’s treasure.  I think I may have struck gold!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts


  1. Clap, clap, clap! Yea! Someone who has figured out that it is best to build your own. That is my motto…uh most of the time. I definitely agree that it is easy to rebuild a machine vs. buy new.

    I have only purchased one desktop new and that was back in like 94. I dug inside and replace almost everything in that old machine. After that I was hooked. I built all of me and my sons computers after that. I even built one and gave it to my mother whose HP went the way of the wind even though it was way overpriced.

    I love the excitement and the freedom of choosing exactly what it is you want your machine to do best and buying a la cart to make it happen. Well good luck and welcome to the fix it yourself club.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Thursday, April 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. This has been informative and encouraging. I was begining to believe that I should give up on used computers, thanks for posting.

    Comment by Akinwole | Thursday, April 8, 2010 | Reply

  3. I too had to retire my 3 year old Acer about 2 months ago- monitor started to go out. It was a nice machine 😦

    I just bought a used Acer Aspire one. True it doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive but its still a nice machine.

    Comment by Paula | Friday, April 16, 2010 | Reply

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