After Being Dissapointed by Lenovo One To Many Times, What PC Did I Buy Instead?
I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981. I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years). I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it. I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both. I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.
I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s. It told me times were a changin’.
WHEN THEY WERE GOOD
It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and have.
Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below). It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.
In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).
I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job). Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into. I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.
Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:
This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s password on it. Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which was supposed to be new. They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place. It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience. Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine. They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me. This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?
So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM? Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me. It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.
WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE
I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM. I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s. IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry. It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines. By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then. Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option. I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against. I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.
THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION
The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed. The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S. The Press communications team however was a joke. Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership. However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives, it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.
MY LATEST PURCHASE
Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.
Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM (see my joint announcement wrap up). I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home. They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.
So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).
But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.
Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:
It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly. I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences. It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work. I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.
When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them. My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time. In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.
Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works. I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.
THE TREND OF PC’S
Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day). This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.
The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership. I have voted with my money.
Why I Bought an iPhone Vs. Any Google Device
It took me this long to finally buy an iPhone. I waited until the right carrier had it (AT&T is a diversity nightmare), then my current provider didn’t have international covered because of CDMA. So when that all came online, I then had to wait for an upgrade time so that I wouldn’t pay an arm/leg/firstborn. It wasn’t a feature to feature comparison, 3G or 4G or any other techie issue that caused it. It was because I know Google, have worked with Eric Schmidt and believe they are evil about their intentions with our data, public or private.
Before any hate mail comes in that Apple does it too, I turn off location services when I leave the house and can confuse them enough that tracking me doesn’t me do them any good….not that anyone would/should care. I’m a statistic to them and so be it.
Disclaimer: I’ve had an iPod since 1994 (rotary wheel version) and have an iPad and iPod before I bought the phone, but I worked with/against Google and have met Eric Schmidt at a partner conference. I don’t trust Google nor do I trust Schmidt as I heard what they are up to. Basically the same thing as Pinky and the Brain are after, take over the world.
I and I believe they are sincere. Apple developers are trying to build an ad base to compete against the world/Google, but I can turn them off…..Google follows me, my house, what I buy and everything else…..then are all too happy to share it with those I don’t want them knowing I exist.
In the quest for data analytics, companies have sold their soul. Google and IBM are at the top of this data list, closely followed by Oracle, only closely in this case as they are hampered by a leader who holds them back from becoming a great (or modern) company.
OPEN SOURCE VS. PROPRIETARY.
Most analyst’s I talk to have Android so that they can practice what they preach, it’s an open world. Well open source doesn’t work as well and smooth as IOS, so I don’t give a rat’s rump about this. I just want it to work and for me not to have to fix or code one more device. Most open systems require tinkering far too often. So I’m calling BS on that argument. I’m a consumer with too much going on to have a device that doesn’t work every time and easily.
It appears that Smartphones are now being attacked by malware and theft. I know of 2 so far on IOS, but Android seems to be up 90%, so it looks like Apps on this OS are easier to break into. This was not my initial decision point, but has skyrocketed to my list of concerns within a short period of time.
MY PREVIOUS SMARTPHONE
I had one of the newest Blackberry’s and in one word of advice for those who are considering buying it….don’t. The interface is archaic compared to IOS and I got it because of a corporate policy that stuck me with a device that was hard to use. I had to take it the phone store to set up the special things I wanted (I have about 7 email addresses and many special things related to what I do, and BTW I set them up myself on the iPhone) and have set up phones and computers for 31 years….before things were easy so I know how to reverse engineer without instructions
One thing I liked about Google was that 3 executives owned 8 corporate jets. God Bless Capitalism. I think IBM has a whole fleet of jets for the executives also so they “don’t” have to fly commercial. Too inconvenient I guess. It’s the same for most corporations.
Anyway I bought the iPhone.
BTW, I’ll never buy another Windows/Microsoft product again now that I work for myself. They can only treat me this poorly (since Windows was released) for so long before I vote with my own money like I did here….
It looks like I’m not the only one. ZDNet wrote this a few days after I wrote about my travails.
Is the PC Dead Or Is It Marketing Hype and Spin?
Update: Apple is more nails in the PC coffin with the new announcement of Post PC devices.
- 362 Apple stores
- 315 million iOS devices sold through last year, including 62 million in the last quarter
- 585,000 apps created
- 25 billion app downloads
- 1080p movies and TV shows for iCloud and the new Apple TV
- 15.4 million iPads sold in the fourth quarter of 2011
- 200,000+ iPad apps
- 2048 by 1536 pixels displayed on the new iPad, with 264 pixels per inch
- 44 percent greater color saturation than the old iPad
- 5 megapixel sensor on the new iPad camera
- A maximum of 73 mbps downlink with 4G LTE on new iPad
- New iPad specs: 10 hours of battery life, nine hours with 4G; 9.4 millimeters thick, 1.4 pounds
- Same pricing as last iPad: Wi-Fi models are $499 for 16 gigabytes, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB; $629, $729 and $829, if you want 4G
- Old iPad now starts at $399 and $529
The Real Meaning in Marketing Speak
In the mid 2000’s, Sam Palmisano of IBM declared the era of the PC is over. This was somewhat of a marketing move since IBM had just sold the PC Division to Lenovo. What he really meant was that IBM is getting out of consumer products. IBM also sold other consumer divisions that were not the margin kings that Software and Services were. Disclaimer, after working either for/with/against/partnering with IBM for 31 years, I can say that a lot of what they do is incredible spin on pretty good technology. I had better knowledge of what was going on than what was told to the outside.
PC’s are Toasters Now
This is a bit of a history lesson. There was a time that PC’s were special and had value. They still can be found on almost every desk or backpack at an airport, but in reality they are now (and have been for a while) a consumer product. There gets to a point in time in every product’s life cycle that economies of scale and parts availability drive this value (and therefore the price) down when you can’t differntiate. It is compounded by newer technologies (tablet computers and mobile devices) to where you can get them at any consumer store that sells toasters, video games and TV’s. Any improvement is just a little bit better (except Windows which usually is worse), not an era better which was the case when they were new.
PC’s have done this to themselves over the years. Remember when all you could get was a bulky desktop? Technology moved on to the luggable computer to the laptop. Now you can get a wafer thin Macbook Air (for a premium price), but the technology curve will drive cost down here when every manufacturer offers it. Margins are razor thin and there is minimal hardware differentiation on the Wintel platform.
The Effect of iPad and Mobile Phones
Ultimately, the world is driving your communications and computing device to be in your hand. The end game of input is not a keyboard, but voice. This addresses the need for instantaneous that we have required as we’ve shifted from email to IM and texting, and from blogging to tweeting. I envision a vision screen that is projected by your small handheld that lets you see what a huge monitor is required for now in the near future. For more on this, see Project Blade Runner as an example of what the future could look like.
PC’s are already under fire from Tablet computing and smartphones. While at some point you still need a PC for complicated input/output such as the dreaded Powerpoint and the more mundane payroll/HR applications, they soon will be adapted to tablets as we easily morphed from immobile desktops to laptops.
Many analysts have shown that more phones and tablets are sold than PC’s. More texts are sent than emails and we certainly have more tweets than blogs.
Powering a lot of this of course is the overhyped Cloud model. While conceptually it has been around for a long time (we have called it client/server and other names), it is a software delivery model that will make the end device irrelevant. Perhaps you could get your email on your toaster or refrigerator. You could make phone calls by dialing in the air at some point. The issue is that we are driving the connecting device smaller, cheaper and more powerful (and less relevant) so that we can get what we want, when we want it and wherever we want it.
Lenovo and HP
Companies are jumping out of this market as evidenced by IBM and HP willing to sell their PC businesses worth billions in revenue, mostly because of low single digit profit margin. They realize that there isn’t much money to be made anymore, again putting them in the toaster category. Similar components by most, similar operating systems, market driving memory and storage costs and overhead to sell. HP is now particularly vulnerable as companies negotiating long term contracts will throw HP out as a viable vendor not knowing what their future will be either in terms of ownership or viability. HP has completely lost their way starting with the purchase of Compaq years ago, then dumping their tablet, announcing the sale of their PC division and switching CEO’s like underwear.
The Apple Factor
Everyone eventually builds a better mousetrap. The Mac has been around for a long time, but the entry way to the door to Apple changed with the iPad/iPhone. A new processor, operating system visibility, technology paradigm, profit potential and the coolness factor make Apple a different model than the PC. Prior to that, Mac’s were a niche player in the creative, advertising and education world. This has changed partly because the OS is better, Windows is not a great platform and Mac’s are headed in the direction of iPads.
So Is the PC Dead?
Ultimately yes, but not this year or in the near future. I’ve seen models of computers called bricks the size of your phone that you can drop in a kiosk and work anywhere. You can even use them like an iPhone if needed, but until the voice input issue is resolved, keyboard input is an inhibitor.
No one thought we’d ever see the end of typewriters, faxing or even the 360, but technology advances at an increasing rate economically speaking. What will be interesting is which social mores we’ll break like talking to ourselves (on a cellphone) in public (or worse in a bathroom or driving).
Is the iPad the next endgame? Likely also not. Companies are trying to out do themselves and we’ll wind up like the Jetson’s one day.
What is Apple up to on the 12th?
The same thing that Microsoft wants. Control of the Living room and the entertainment lifestyle. There will be announcements about a new iPod phone or a service but look at the Big Picture.
Here’s the big picture, check all that apply:
2. check #1.
3. All of the above
Who is the largest Disney Stockholder? one guess.
So look for code talk about new products, but read between the lines at how “lifestyle” and “entertainment” will change and how Apple is looking to “help” the media experience.. Don’t fall (too much) for the iPod phone with some downloads or a touch screen iPod. Yes that would be cool, but those are only building blocks. Look for how they want to compete for taking over the entertainment center and work their way back to the office (with Intel machines). It will be with better content and delivery.
And what better known content than Disney? They’re pretty much the King of entertainment (I take exception to Eisner’s view of entertainment, but over the years they have been solid). Apple has a better media interface than Windows, and from what I can tell Linux too.
Apple has been very profitable with the iPod/iTunes model. Sell both the hardware and software by controlling the content. Offer better content and DRM is still a nuisance, but you’ll put up with it a bit longer as Apple milks the cash cow. Move that model to the living room and you have the media center hardware and can sell iTunes like Disney movies, working better or cheaper with Apple. Oh, and Jobs collects on the Apple and Disney side. Hey, I don’t blame him, he personifies the American dream. Wish I’d thought of it.
So on the 12th we’ll see if it’s another lame announcement about an lame iPod docking speaker, or selling move movies and hardware. Note, I’ll give Microsoft a D at their try at this; xBox, windoze media software and a large install base and a whole bunch of Wintel boxes…they shoulda had a much better share of the consumer marketplace.
Off to Linux
Just like why I’m blogging, I’m installing Linux. I figured that if I’m going to talk about it, I need to experience it.
Fortunately, IBM has a desktop install that I currently have underway, approximately 817 files to be downloaded and installed. The only issue for me is that I work remotely and I had to go into an IBM facility to load it. So I blog here from a cube farm in a building that is half IBM and half Lenovo.
But the good news is that I’ll work as much as I can from Linux, except for the Windoze only programs that I have to keep until I find a work around.
I’ll have to speak with Steve O’Grady to see how he migrated his iPod/iTunes to Linux, cause that’s one of the programs on the table for me.
Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the reasons I’m switching is the millions of blue screens of death I’ve experienced, the delay’s in operating system releases, the bugs, security, and some amount of arrogance. By the way, I’ve been at this since DOS 1.0, so I have experience with PC OS problems.
I also need to expand my boundaries technically. I can’t bear to sit back with the norm, it seems I have to push the envelope to test my abilities, hope I can pass the test.
iPoding again – update
complaining discussing my travails with podcast alley and getting non itunes podcasts to my iPod. I’m happy to report that I found Juice off of sourceforge.net.
I’m feeling pretty good about it as I’m now getting feeds off of podcast alley, ipodder, podcast pickle and others with ease. Moreover, I’m pretty glad I went outside of my comfort zone and got what I needed to work. I’m equally happy I got it off of sourceforge.
Now, it’s time for a couple of sporting events that interest me. The Tour de France and the 24 hours of LeMans which until I just typed this, I didn’t realize the French connection. I hope there is a good podcast.
If not, there is always RadioLeMans which comes out of the UK of all places, and is quite good coverage. In fact, now that I’m really getting off topic, I find that auto racing coverage is usually best out of the UK. My favorite racing podcast is the chequered flag from BBC radio 5 Live.
More of my iPod adventures – I need Podcast Alley help
I can’t leave well enough alone. iTunes is manageable enough for me to deal with most of my iPod issues. I’m going to quickly dismiss the music issue as everyone has their favorite way of getting music, or in the case of some of those younger than me, stealing it which to me is wrong, but each to their own.
Podcasting is another issue. Back to the kids, iTunes is one way to get podcasts which I’ve done, but in my listening so far (I have 243 in queue right now), I’ve been directed to podcast alley. The kids say that is “what the cool kids do”. So I went there to check it out and found that this is in fact the truth. I found tons of stuff I can’t wait to listen to, if I could get it to my iPod.
So I went to Sourceforge and downloaded Genesis 7 as a player and I can listen to what I want to as long as it’s on my pc, but of course that’s not good enough for me, I want it on my iPod. So I now have to find an iTunes substitute to load content on my video iPod. Off to iPod Software iLounge and didn’t find the freeware I was looking for, so it looks like analog explorer for $25 is my leading contender.
So I’m hoping that someone has a good suggestion for moving podcasts – both audio and video to my iPod for my new podcasts or from podcast alley.
Podcast's, Sturgeon's Law and the Nordschleife
When I first got my iPod, I thought I’d be listening to my favorite songs and knew that I’d be looking at video’s which I still do. What I didn’t realize was that I’d quickly get addicted to some podcasts.
Before I got it, I made some off the cuff remarks that I’d listen to the Tour de France updates on the plane and technology updates. The part about the Tour is true, when it comes up later this year. I tried listening to a few technology podcasts and quickly found that it was both a lot like being at work, and most of the quality was in the 90% of Sturgeon’s Law.
I quickly went to my old and new interests, those being racing and the show 24 and found lots of other stuff I follow like Karate. Three different Formula 1 podcasts and 2.5 24 podcasts (one is not consistent) and many others come through constantly for me.
Now to the point of this blog. I was listening to The Chequered Flag by BBC Five Live this morning in the gym, and there was an unbelievably good description by a journalist riding in a DTM Mercedes drive by current series leader Bernd Schneider, on one of the most famous stretches of road you can race on, the Nordschleife in Nuerburg Germany located in the Eifel mountains.
Tearing through the track at 200 mph, getting airborne, the tail of the car almost losing grip and incredible g-forces. I was jazzed, and this is what podcasting should do for you, get you involved and entertained. It’s worth a listen and it’s the podcast from 5/6/06 if you want to get it. It’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stick up and rip the tag off your shirt.
I get that if you are in college you can download the professor’s lecture if you missed class or need to re-listen, but Puleeze….spare me, blasting through the Karussell or hearing about organic chemistry 411, which one would you rather listen to? For me, I listen to the 10% of quality podcasting Sturgeon talked about that I’ve filtered through to get what I want.And yes, I pedaled much faster during the lap which is 14 miles, 170 bends and breathtaking.
I got what I wanted for Christmas, a video I-Pod. Yes, it’s one of the coolest tech toys I’ve had in a long time. As a blatant request, please send your favorite audio and/or video download links as I’m busy trying to add content (don’t worry, I haven’t run out of stuff to put on yet, but I’m looking for cool stuff that I don’t know about, but know it’s out there).
I’ve also had a DVR for over a year and today I read this story from CES. It’s not hard to put 2+2 together here. We’re watching things differently, calling our own shots as to when and where.
It used to be we could only watch what was on when it was on. Then VCR’s helped us to watch when we wanted to, but the serial-ness of tape was at best OK for searching.
Now, we can watch what we want, skip the commercials (except the Superbowl) when we want. We can slow-mo the car chase scene’s, the foot out of bounds or whatever.
More important and finally to the point of this blog, is that we watch differently, or time shift. For example, there is 40 minutes of content per hour and 20 minutes of commercials. That means I can start a 4 hour NASCAR race 80 minutes after the start of the program and see the finish on time and skip what I don’t want to see.
Now, thanks to the web and the power of consumer demand, I can time shift on the Video I-Pod and watch my stuff on a plane or at the Gym or wherever. Here’s a small list of what is on today as an example (ESPN is the only thing that interests me on this list, but the point is that lot’s of content is on the way).
A sampling of video content available now or soon online:
— AOL (aol.com): Starting early 2006, episodes from TV series such as
“Welcome Back Kotter,” “The Fugitive,” “Eight is Enough,” “Growing Pains”
and “Lois & Clark;” on six online channels
— CBS (cbs.com, cbsnews.com): Web-only video supplements, soaps and shows
such as “CSI” and “Survivor;” talk-shows and interviews with contestants and
actors. CBS News offers Web-only breaking-news coverage, evening news
segments and behind-the-scenes pieces
— Comedy Central (comedycentral.com/motherload): Clips from shows such as
“Chappelle’s Show,” the “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “South Park;”
shorts, short clips from comedians’ stand-up acts
— ESPN (espn.com): ESPN Motion videos are embedded in most Web pages and
include game highlights and athlete press conferences; ESPN 360, only
available to some broadband providers’ subscribers, offers full archived
games and live sporting events
— MTV (mtv.com/overdrive): Live performances, music videos, interviews
with musicians, movie trailers, news
— Starz Entertainment Group (vongo.com): Subscribers pay a monthly fee
for unlimited downloads of more than 1,000 movies, including “Finding
Neverland,” “Annie Hall,” “Good Will Hunting,” as well as concerts, extreme
sports and Starz TV programming
Source: the companies
iPod phone, part the way there
So Apple has introduced the iPod phone. Well, that’s part of what I want. There’s likely a lot of sales there if u look at what’s attached to the ears of the teens/20’s/30’s crowd, but we need more and I don’t think I’m alone.
Here’s my list. I want a device that’s a phone, a camera, wireless+bluetooth, iPod, email, im, handles video podcasts, voice input cause i hate watching drivers thumbtype while driving, oh btw – I want thumb typing too, push to talk capability, minimum of 100 gb of storage, has a docking port of some kind to be able to use a monitor/keyboard/mouse….and I want it in the size of a phone.
I know it exists in the research labs of some phone or computer company somewhere, but this is the I want it now times, so why not now? Using step technology to get one (usually minor) upgrade is not that useful.
Did I miss any capabilities that makes this worthwhile?