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January 24, 2004

Are they for real? - Part III The Response

I was contacted by the 'Director or Manufacturing' of Lieberman Inc. about the out-of-the-box mess with the Hollywood laptop they sent me. He went into a thousand apologies for the trouble and was willing to go a long way to make sure I was to become a satisfied customer. He really did his best in trying to work things out. But I explained him that this machine was to become my main workstation for the coming two years and that for me to be comfortable with it I need to have a lot of trust in its robustness. My laptop is the one fundamental piece of my operation that should not have any troubles; other machines often have a more experimental nature and I am willing to accept more risk there. My reasons for 10 or more years of IBM Thinkpads was their robustness. The reason I am replacing my good A21p is because it starts giving signals that there may be trouble in the future. I cannot afford to have my new laptop become a headache. And even though Lieberman may be able to 'fix' the current issues in a satisfactory manner,  for the time being I would have this doubt about 'what is going to happen next'. They have not won my trust.

He explained that there really is a 3.2 GHz P4 Extreme Edition in the laptop, but that a bios update is necessary to enable the L3 cache to become visible. Until then it runs in a sort of P4 compatibility  mode without the L3 present. For some reason this bios update was not applied to my machine before it shipped. Whether this would also fix the no-boot problem with hyperthreading switched off and the battery not-charging I don't know. It certainly is not going to fix the fact that you cannot use BT and 802.11 at the same time. I assume those two are sharing some virtual PCI slot that only allows one miniPCI card to be active.

Given that IBM has no Thinkpads at this moment that can satisfy my needs (UXGA or higher) I am for the first time seriously looking at a Dell laptop. I am reading up on their reliability stats. Maybe a Precision M60 is my next choice. I know its lacks the raw power I was hoping to get out of the Hollywood machine, but stepping away from the cutting edge could reduce risk significantly.

Posted by Werner Vogels at January 24, 2004 09:18 AM


I have not done any business with them but have looked at Elite Notebooks? It looks like they have some interesting notebooks.

Posted by: Ron Green on January 24, 2004 10:05 AM

This is anecdotal evidence only, of course, but my company initially started with ThinkPads, then switched to Dell because of similar reasons (no real high-end TP machines available at that time), and has since switched back to IBM because the Dells plainly suck in terms of reliability.
If you buy one, make sure you can live with having to send it in for repairs and throw it away after three years when the warranty runs out.

Posted by: Stefan Tilkov on January 24, 2004 10:17 AM

Ron, It appears that Elite and Hypersonic (see Matt's comment in yesterday's posting) all sell the same machines as Lieberman does. I don't know who really manufacters them, whether it is Lieberman and they get rebranded for other or that Lieberman in reality is just another reseller.

Posted by: Werner Vogels on January 24, 2004 10:41 AM

If you're willing to spend $5k on a laptop, why not go for an Athlon 64 system? VoodooPC and others make them.

Posted by: Jim on January 24, 2004 01:27 PM

I am now 100% happy with the Alienware box. ;)

Posted by: Clemens Vasters on January 25, 2004 02:29 AM

I have to echo the feedback on the Dell Laptops. I haven't seen the reliability in the field (as a service technician/wizard) that Dell has in it's Desktop/Workstation/Server lines. When it came time for me to replace my own laptop I went with Toshiba as the reviews and long history of building great laptops gave me the warm fuzzy I needed. Hope this helps.

Posted by: Ron Lewis on January 29, 2004 03:54 PM