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Old 05-08-2007, 01:38 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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HP Nightmare

It is dangerous to post when you are very angry. That's what I'm doing right now, so I'll try to be careful, and will restrain from posting to the front page.

We all care about our desktop PCs, even though this is a mobile technology site -- the desktop is usually sort of a base station of one sort or another. Clearly it is for the Sony Reader, for example. And most of us are computer lovers who would have a desktop regardless of whether we had a mobile device.

So, anyway, I bought an HP Pavillion m8020n Media PC. Nice specs for a near $1000 PC, Vista, and an open optical bay that I intende to fill with a second DVD drive. Got a great bundle deal also, with printer and 17" lcd basically thrown in for about nothing.

That's when the nightmare started, and after wasting many days, I'm probably going to give up. (Which means a lot of time wasted boxing everything up and returning it and restoring my previous desktop configuration.) Next computer is not likely to ever be an HP.

So first thing I tried to do was burn recovery discs because they aren't included. After numerous failures and wasted DVDs, online chat support walked me through the same failure scenario (and it was like talking to the old Eliza AI program if any of you remember that... they answered based on key words, I think, instead of actually reading what I wrote, but they were helpful nonetheless.) Finally, they determined that my system needed to be recovered and they said they would ship me a recovery disc for free because of the problem. Lots of time wasted just to get there, but okay, I can live with that.

Then I tried to put in my second optical drive. No cables for power or IDE! Nothing! An empty IDE socket in the motherboard, and two empty power connectors between two hard drive power connectors. Unfortunately they are unlikely to ever reach the optical bay, even if I was able to connect the IDE cable (which is not supplied, so I'd have to go buy one anyway).

My very old HP had even more extreme problems -- adding an extra hard drive in an empty internal slot required a custom cable to be made! As a result, my next computer was a Dell. Expansion of the dell was as simple as 1) Attach the rails to the drive 2) slip it into the slot 3) attach the supplied cables, which just happen to be right there where you need them.

I figured that all manufacturers has solved the expansion issue by now, so it didn't even cross my mind that it would be a problem with a new HP with a full tower. WRONG!

After wasting untold hours with support going around in circles, they kept trying to tell me that the power cable would reach... not likely, but maybe with some fancy rearrangement of which connector is connected to what device, I suppose a miracle could happen. And if I could thread the IDE cable between the motherboard and optical drive without destroying the air flow for heat distribution, maybe it could be done. But eventually before I could get an answer to how the power cord miracle could be done, my support person quit on me. Or maybe we were disconnected. I don't know.

In fact, I don't even think I was chatting with the same person the whole time. All of a sudden the support person actually became knowledgeable! So I assume a supervisor stepped in. But... it could be that the person in support finally realized that they needed to become a little more technical for this case to get anywhere. Like I said, I'm mad and frustrated right now, so you have to take some of this with a grain of salt (even if it's accurate and true, it's surely colored by my frustration, and it won't be until sometime tomorrow that I'll have the perspective to know whether they deserve it or not!)

Bottom line, the recovery disc creation software didn't work. And it is NOT easy to install a second optical drive, nor is the required cable present, nor does support even have the proper instructions needed to do it. In my mind, that's pitiful and unacceptable, and clearly the PC does not meet my needs and I'm unlikely to try this nightmare again with an HP computer.

Moral of the lesson... if you buy an HP computer, don't plan on expansion unless you work on PCs for a living and have things like longer 4-pin power cords or extensions for power cords, and things like spare IDE cables (which, oddly enough, I had on hand!)

Maybe they are okay if you don't plan to expand, but as far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't touch an HP computer with a 10' pole. Mine is going back to the store, and the bad taste in my mouth is likely to last a long time. Well, at least until tomorrow when I might get some perspective again

What about you guys? Ever tried to add an optical drive in your PC? What brand? Was it easy? Did it take extra parts? Are you as fed up with HP as I am right now?

I'm going to bed. Hopefully, things will look better in the morning when I'm not so exhausted. And words of perspective would be appreciated! My apologies for "blowing my top!"
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:44 AM   #2
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Added the missing URL

Btw, here's the instruction page that support pointed me to.
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/d...reg_R1002_USEN

Very trivial steps, except in Step 4 where it says "Step 4. Attach the power and flat ribbon cables to the rear of the drive." That would be simple also, except THERE IS NO SUCH CABLE in the computer!!!!!!

The support person says that they have designs among the best in the industry and win awards, so clearly it's not a problem with the computer. I might agree -- the problem is that there is not the basic info, and that the cable is missing and that the other cable is too short, and that the whole arrangement of the cables is stupid and doesn't work. Other than that, it's a stunningly wonderful design. Ugh.

I had better leave it at that before I say something about HP and HP support that I shouldn't say!...
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:49 AM   #3
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To be fair, I should point out that HP did send me a note that included the following after the support chat was cut off...

"Unfortunately, we were not able to continue with troubleshooting the
issue as the Chat connection was lost due to a technical issue at our
end. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Id
really appreciate if you could give us another chance to work on the
issue you are facing with your computer."

But at the moment, after a 2-3hr marathon that got nowhere, I guess I don't really feel like giving them another chance and more hours wasted on this PC.

Again, for balance, I should point out that I was fortunate that I could get support in the middle of the night at all. Pretty impressive that they had chat support available. Just frustrating because they didn't solve my problem.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:19 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your awful experience, it's amazing the shortcuts PC makers are incorporating nowadays to minimize their expenses. It's been a downward decending trend over the past 10-12 year, when they first stopped including a full copy of Windows in the box, then they started making "recovery CD's" so you couldn't build your own system as an upgrade option and use the OS you previously purchased with the system, then they started locking certain OEM install keys to specific vendors so you couldn't use that in your upgrade path, and here's one ofthe final blows... installing the recovery software on a partition, LOCATED ON THE SAME DRIVE THAT WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL, and expecting the user to be responsible for the backup of system files the vendor should have included. I could really just slap who ever it was who thought that was a good idea, just an idiot trying to save the company money while screwing the consumer in the end.

I went through a similar issue when my system didn't come with a restore DVD and when it was repaired (prior to my purchase), they didn't reinstall the OS. I ended up going back to the store with a few blank DVD's and burned the disks from their demo PC, my only other option was to wait for Sony to ship me the new disks and be out of a PC for 7-10 days... NOT!

Anyway, we feel your pain. Good luck with your future upgrades!

BTW I helped a friend install a new HDD in their system and the friggin *extra* drive bays were too far for a normal IDE cable to reach. Hello engineers, is anybody home?
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:34 AM   #5
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I had a run in with a Compaq back in '96 -- I tried to erase the DOS partition on a drive from another Compaq prior to adding it as a second drive.

FDisk showed me 2 partitions (Compaq and DOS partitions) on the original drive. I took the original drive clean out of the computer (totally disconnected, lying on my desk 2 feet away) and put in the soon to be second drive in. FDisk showed me only the DOS partition on the 'second' drive, so I deleted it.

Imagine my surprise, when I put the original drive back in its original place and discovered that it had no DOS partition. Apparently Compaq stores HDD partition information in the BIOS, or did at the time, anyway.

The IS&T guys were able to beat it back into submission, but I've been leery of Compaq's ever since then -- who knows what other sort of silly ... stuff they routinely pull?

From your experience, Bob, I can only conclude that the folks who set up the partition info storage in the BIOS thing evidently survived the merger with HP.
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Azayzel
BTW I helped a friend install a new HDD in their system and the friggin *extra* drive bays were too far for a normal IDE cable to reach. Hello engineers, is anybody home?
What a relief to hear someone else has run into the same sort of stupid problem!

But a good night's sleep has given me the expected perspective, and here's the real problem... I should never have spent so much time on it. When it was clear it wasn't easy, I should have simply given up in the beginning and found a product better suited to my needs. I would have been a lot less frustrated if I hadn't become so committed to making this particular PC work.

My conclusion - the cable arrangement inside the PC is bad, and clearly HP doesn't care about making expansion easy on their desktops, so I guess HP is a bad fit for me. I will shop for another brand in the future. Others may find that HP is a good fit, especially if they buy a unit with everything they need already installed in it.

Time to move on. Besides, there is a really great looking UMPC (the Q1 Ultra) due out this month, so a happy purchase from Samsung will most certainly wipe out any bad memories of this frustrating mistake.

Now... where did I put that rock solid e-ink device that never lets me down?!
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:43 AM   #7
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I had a run in with a Compaq back in '96 -- I tried to erase the DOS partition on a drive from another Compaq prior to adding it as a second drive.

FDisk showed me 2 partitions (Compaq and DOS partitions) on the original drive. I took the original drive clean out of the computer (totally disconnected, lying on my desk 2 feet away) and put in the soon to be second drive in. FDisk showed me only the DOS partition on the 'second' drive, so I deleted it.

Imagine my surprise, when I put the original drive back in its original place and discovered that it had no DOS partition. Apparently Compaq stores HDD partition information in the BIOS, or did at the time, anyway.

The IS&T guys were able to beat it back into submission, but I've been leery of Compaq's ever since then -- who knows what other sort of silly ... stuff they routinely pull?

From your experience, Bob, I can only conclude that the folks who set up the partition info storage in the BIOS thing evidently survived the merger with HP.
What can I say? No wonder most "normal" people hate computers!
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:03 AM   #8
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I'd suggest you check out Microcenter's brand, but the closest one to you seems to be in Philedelphia.

We picked one up in early January, and I've been quite pleased with it thus far. I still have an old laptop from them (from back when they were an all mail-order outfit) that I was quite pleased with too, but there's just not much present day use for a 286SX 25Mhz laptop with 4MB of RAM and a 250MB (yes, MB, not GB) hard-drive and 8" monochrome "paper-white" VGA screen. I throw that in just so the kiddies can see a bit of the road that's been walked to get them where they are today.

And I haven't even mentioned the punch cards I have in my office at work!
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:33 PM   #9
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I can concur about HP. Not had as much trouble as you but will not buy another. Too many "not quite good enough" items/areas on them.
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:09 PM   #10
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My dad got me a PC when I was in the 8th grade. It was a Compac and I had a hell of a time upgrading it when the time came. After that I built all my own PC’s; I got exactly what I wanted and saved a lot of money in the process.
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:49 PM   #11
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After that I built all my own PC’s; I got exactly what I wanted and saved a lot of money in the process.
A very tempting option! Especially if I could find an extended tower to add more than 2 hard drives in it, and a nice powerful power supply. But for me right now, it comes down to the time required, and the fact that you can get these pre-built systems pretty cheap.

I'm thinking Dell, as my current one has been great, and I have the EPP discount available. Might just wait a while until they are dumping the fully equipped Vista Media PCs cheap. Right now they seem to come at a bit of a premium.

To add a hard drive and optical drive to my Dell required 8 simple screws for the bay adapter rails (included) and plug in the cables (included and easily reached). It was easy to remove the PC cover and the sound insulation was also much better than for HP. I've heard that Dell quality has fallen a bit since I bought that old one, but I guess I should have just stuck with what worked!
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:02 PM   #12
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Sure you want Vista???
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:00 PM   #13
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Bob, I feel your pain. I had an experience like that back in the 80s and vowed to never again be at the mercy of the vendors. (I have modified this stance only in regard to laptops.) All of the computers here and at my Father-in-law's place are built from scratch. It is not hard. (The "Theory of Limits" is harder.) You should consider it.
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:48 AM   #14
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@Bob

I know what you went through, I bought a prebuilt system about 5 years ago and had no end of trouble with it...and in the end spent a lot more time and money than I would have for a self-made system.

After this mistake I never even considere a pre-built again. I had been building my own systems before that for a long time, but was in a hurry and thought that a cheap and fully assembled system would help me save time and money.
First thing I did when I got the system was configure windows, update drivers and bios.
There you go...the system was dead.

What was the deal? Well, to update the bios I had followed the instructions in the manual (that came with the computer!). The trouble was that the actual mainboard was somehow modified (to save cost I guess) but the maunal wasn't, so I flashed the original bios from the website of ASUS onto a mainboard that was incompatible which meant...DEATH for my computer.
So, I was in a hurry and since I could not get anything repaired in a hurry (customer support...bad joke) I dimply bought a new mainboard (a cheap one) and that was it. Problem solved. Now, that was not how it all ended...I had problems with overheating, a defective GPU cooler (imagine how long it took me to find that one...the fan was spinning, but sometimes it just slowed down and thus the GPU overheated) and that was without even starting to think about upgrading...

So, after that I vowed NEVER to touch anything that is not hand-selected and hand-built by me. I've given the same advice to friends and also ordered and assembled systems for quite a few people I know...and every one of them has been happy with their system.
Building and configuring a System from scratch does not take more than one afternoon if you know what you are doing, even with liquid cooling and other "special features" onboard, so I guess it would have been a good alternative for you as well.
You can get superior components for the same (or even cheaper) prices, especially if you already have software (that is usually the only thing that makes Pre-Built prices look attractive) and you know exactly what is in that box and what it is for.

Sorry for the rant, but ever since that experience 5 years ago and some of the troubles my friends had with pre-built I'm a total enemy of those supposedly cheap alternatives to DIY...
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:47 AM   #15
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I had this HP wide format printer that was in perfect shape . When XP came along, the driver that was ported for it lost 60% of its functions, things that I really needed to operate the darn thing. The W98 version could be reinstalled but not without pain, and caused unstability on the PC. After a while I gave up and stored it on the pile of old pcs, Macs, and outdated stuff , with the stock of expensive ink cartriges I had bought ahead of time.
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