[lug] Laptop Troubles

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Thu Sep 20 16:54:51 MDT 2007

Chris Brotherton wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 03:31:41AM -0600, Sean Reifschneider wrote:
>> On Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 10:27:34PM -0600, Evelyn Mitchell wrote:
>>> I had this problem with an old thinkpad of mine (at least 4 years ago). I
>> I also had basically exactly this problem, though I seem to recall that the
>> machine completely powered off.  I want to say this was on my previous
>> T42p.  A motherboard replacement resolved it.
> I had a feeling it would be the motherboard.  The machine is no longer under
> warranty.  Can anyone recommend a reputable parts dealer or repair shop?
> Also, is it even worth repairing?  I am concerned that the parts/labor will
> cost more than the machine is worth.

Another "ditto" on the motherboard thing.  Saw one die here at the 
office in a similar fashion... co-worker's T43.

The laptop in question was used HARD and beat around pretty good, not 
abused, but used heavily.

(I wouldn't want folks to get the impression that ALL of the T4X 
ThinkPad line probably have similar problems... but there's definitely 
something with about how you handle them that can bust up the 
motherboard connectors a bit.)

My work T43 has "flexed" enough over a few year's time, that it's 
difficult to get the CD-RW in and out of the machine, and the pressure 
required is very hard on the release mechanism... but otherwise, it's 
been flawless.

I just leave the drive in it... no need to remove it very often, if at 

I only noticed it when doing some preventive maintenance and cleaning it 
a bit with compressed air and the usually prescribed "soft, damp 
cloth"... (GRIN).

But I've been borderline abusive to it from day one.  It rides in a 
laptop bag to and from, but it's insertion into and out of that bag 
twice daily isn't always "slow and gentle", and it's taken it's fair 
share of short falls in crowded lab/data center environments where it 
was being balanced on things that never should have been places to park 
a laptop for maintenance activities.  (GRIN!)  I'm hard on machines.

My eMachines older laptop, the IBM from work, and the MacBook, all have 
areas where the finish on the plastic where my fingers rest and/or on 
the touchpad, have rubbed off enough that they look completely different 
from the rest of the finish on the laptop... not all the way through the 
plastic or anything, but they all get used a LOT.  The "complaint list" 
is short:

eMachines M2105: The machine had hinge problems where the hinges would 
crack on some machines -- mine had just started to crack when the 
manufacturer developed a "fix" and handled the update gracefully and 
quickly, for free -- postage paid.  However the hinges have always had a 
slight "slop" to them since the fix was applied... the laptop screen 
will move back and forth about 1/4" or so if it's not leaning backwards 
where gravity avoids that.

IBM T43 and one other I don't remember: (both this one and previous work 
one at another company) Best rugged machines for "abuse level" I've used 
yet, but haven't tried a Panasonic ToughBook.  Machine is slightly 
"flexed" making removal/insertion of the removable disk bay (in my case, 
a CD-RW drive, but they make other stuff for that bay) difficult. 
Additionally, the screw holding the hard disk cover turned up missing 
one day, and sliding the laptop across my lap left to right, pulled the 
running hard disk straight out of the machine!  (Yikes.)  Nothing bad 
happened, and good ol' duct tape kept it from letting me catch it on 
anything until a replacement screw could be procured.

MacBook: A repair trip early in its life (that turned out to be 
unnecessary -- it was a video driver bug in early OS X that stores 
didn't know about, so they'd send the machines to Apple repair depots 
for new "logic controllers"... the "rainbow screen of death, so to 
speak) -- caused the hinges to squeak slightly.  After doing some online 
reading, one of the things done was a small sheet of plastic/rubber type 
compound was added between the bottom of the motherboard and the 
aluminium shielding on the bottom of the case (they were shorting out in 
the original design if the laptop flexed).  That sheet of rubber seems 
to have "bulged" the case ever so slightly, and the rear hinges don't 
like it.  I assume the current production line has no such isues... but 
listening to my laptop "creak" open in a dark/quiet room is annoying. 
It's not loud, but it's very consistent at about the halfway-open point 
in unfolding it.  (To avoid hearing it, my "natural" reaction is to open 
and close the lid a lot faster than I propably should, turning the 
"crreeeeeeak... into a blurry whrrrp sound that goes by REAL quick.)

Toshiba Portege' 3015: By far the smallest, lightest and rugged little 
sub-portable laptop I've had... wife dropped a book on it late in it's 
useful lifespan, and busted a few keys off the keyboard, but a 
replacement keyboard was found a few years ago for cheap, and was 
installed easily... for a "Pentium I era" laptop, this thing has been 
incredible, and it's still running... I just don't find much use for it. 
  I've considered a "car computer" made out of it, but it's just too 
slow for that... The Toshiba logo has completely worn off the outside of 
the laptop's back, and the plastic connectors to plug it into wall power 
has been tough to be careful with (the wiring started to pull out of the 
plug years ago, and good old black electrical tape -- good Scotch stuff 
-- has "saved the day" on that for about three years now).

Can you tell I use laptops hard, until they die?  Problem is... these 
won't DIE, and it's high time for a processor/RAM upgrade again!  LOL!

And I wouldn't get much out of them on the used market -- I run 'em down 
until they're gettin' ugly... laptop long-time use is just like cars, if 
you want to get all of your money's worth and more out of them!  :-)


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