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The "Out-of-the-Box" Experience

Friday, November 16, 2007
Today I had the opportunity to help a friend buy a new laptop as hers was "on the way out." Now, as my readers should know I'm a huge Mac guy (I switched in 2001), despite my occasional glitches with their products. Well, in my friend's case I didn't push the "you should get a Mac" issue too hard and instead advised her to get a small, light, fairly low-end HP laptop (HP being my PC manufacturer of choice) that would do the basic things she needed it to do.

We arrived at an HP dv2615, which we got off the shelf at Best Buy. The specs weren't bad, and the price ($650) was pretty good for what it is. Now this new laptop came happily preloaded with Microsoft Windows Vista, an OS that I'm not particularly enamored with.

So let's talk about the "out-of-the-box" experience. By this, I mean, "How does the computer appear as you take it out of the box? Does it work? Is it simple?" I will say that Apple has that down to a science. Whenever I get a new Mac the process of getting it to a usable point is very short.

Not so with off-the-shelf computers, I've found. Perhaps it's the lack of integration, but just getting to the point that I could click on anything took literally 15 minutes of "Please wait while HP installs software..." Furthermore, even once I could click on anything, I had a ton of pop-ups because everything wanted to be updated. And, thanks Vista, I had usually not one but TWO warning every time I wanted to change a setting. Want to remove something from the start menu? Oh, it makes sure. Then it asks you to confirm one more time. I spent probably an hour just getting the laptop to the point where I could hand it off and say, "Here you go, it works." On a Mac, that's usually less than 10 minutes.

I've never been a big fan of the "install updates as the computer is shutting down" thing that Windows does. Sure, I don't like rebooting. But on my Mac I can install updates and move along with my business. Or, I can choose not to, because it's an inconvenient time. God help you if you want to shut down your computer and NOT install updates under Windows because you're in a hurry. Oh, I want to quickly install the updates and restart. WRONG! That's not happening.

Okay, so this post isn't especially well-written or coherent. I'm just getting over my immediate annoyance at having an otherwise decent laptop that a sizable chunk of money was spent on have such a terrible user experience out of the box. Had I been NOT a computer-guy, I probably would have been even more frustrated - and probably not bought another one from the same company.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow an hour your good. I just read an article (link escapes me) talking about the spyware and even TORJANS that came preloaded on a brand new desktop computer. Shame shame shame.

2:25 PM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Jenny said...

As the owner of said-HP lap top, I really appreciate you Burton!

8:14 PM, November 20, 2007  

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