Wednesday, January 20, 2010

video card burn out and firewire ports

On Monday, I downloaded a movie on my notebook and I hooked up my notebook to my TV with the HDMI cable to watch it.

The movie kept stuttering and wouldn't play finish after a few minutes. After that, I got a blue screen of death. So I quit and thought maybe it was just a bad file and my notebook didn't like it, thought looking back that was quite strange. I've never seen an AVI file crash a system before. I had more than the minimum specs to play it.

At first I thought it was the new NVIDIA drivers that installed on it. So last night, I uninstalled the old drivers and then put in the original drivers from BENQ. The same thing happened. In fact, it got worst, the Graphic User interface on the desktop started going crazy. The notebook started restarting by itself.

Then I knew what it was already as I have seen it a few times before. It means the video card was dying. When I was first doing research 14 months ago before buying my notebook, I did read a lot of complaints about NVIDIA cards (8000 series, and probably the 9000 series also) on notebooks burning out. It had to do with their manufacturing process. The constant ON/OFF of the notebook caused the soldering to burn out. What happens if, the soldering will warm up and then cool down and the long term effect of this contraction and expansion of the soldering will result in it breaking of.

So last night, when my notebook when totally black, I was cursing NVIDIA, BENQ and myself. Myself for not taking the extended 3 year warranty. I bought this BENQ Joybook S41 in October 2008. Just a few months after its 12 months warranty, it had to die on me. Damn!

I took it down to the Digital Mall today to see what were my options. My first stop was this small stall that I knew fixed notebooks. They said if it was the video card, it was RM280 to replace a new one. They will replace it with a brand new one, not a reconditioned one. They didn't do it at their shop, so they have to send it out to be done. It would take them 2 weeks to do.

I've never used their services before so I didn't quite trust them. So I when back to AonePlus, my trusted IT supplier. This was the shop I bought the notebook at anyway and they are also a Benq vendor. I have been doing business with them for almost 8 years now and their customer service has always been great.

They told me, since it was passed the warranty date, better not send back to the manufacturer to repair. They have trained technicians who can repair it. Since they can order the parts, the technicians can change it themselves. I would pick AonePlus over a small stall to repair my notebook any day.

I don't want some dodgy technician changing or stealing my notebook parts, which I know some people have experienced before.

I told them I must have it back before Chinese New Year, as I would like to use it then. So hopefully they get it fixed and do it for cheap! Hopefully, they don't have to change the whole motherboard as that would be more than RM1K.

As I was in the digital mall, I walked around looking at the new notebooks. I realized that most of the large brands use ATI instead of NVIDIA now. I think they also realize about the burn out problems. Also, most of the new notebooks didn't have a firewire/1394 port and a express card slot. This is going to be big problem the next time I want to upgrade to a new notebook.

Most of the video cameras still use firewire ports to connect to the notebooks. If there is no firewire port, at least I can buy an express card with firewire, but if the new notebooks don't even have it, then I don't know how I am going to connect the video camera.

Some of my colleagues have already bought these new notebooks for editing video and when I take a look at it, I tell them they can't capture any video from the camera because there is no way to connect it to the camera!

Maybe there is a USB device out there that can convert firewire signal to USB, haven't heard of it before but I assume some guy in China would have thought of it already.

Anyway... so here I am, using my old desktop writing this. I use it rarely as I had my notebook. It feels like an old car I haven't driven in a long time. All my current bookmarks are not here. Even staring at this monitor is giving me an eye strain as the notebook had a higher contrast ratio.

I'm gonna have to rely on my Iphone more these few days to connect to the Internet. I hope I can last through the next few weeks!

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