Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My computer is like an old car

When I was growing up, my mom used to talk about how her cars would always start to fall apart just when they were out of warranty.  I'm not sure if that was really the case, but it did seem that her Datsun 310 had more problems at the end of its five-year warranty than ever before.  Of course, she drove that car everywhere and it was on its third clutch by the time we traded it in for a Toyota Corolla in 1986.  Nevertheless, her words have come back to me the past few months as my Macbook Pro nears the end of its three-year warranty.

When I invested in this computer in February 2008, I knew it wouldn't last forever.  I always assumed it would hold up for about three years and then I'd buy another one.  But I didn't think its demise would be so obvious.  My Windows desktop PCs always deteriorated gradually.  Each one needed a new hard drive sometime in its lifespan, but other than that entire components didn't just fail out of nowhere.  They just started performing slower and slower until I couldn't take it anymore and bought a new desktop PC.

However, the MacBook Pro has declined in marked stages.  One evening in October it refused to come out of sleep mode or boot up.  A two-night stay at the Apple Store in midtown Manhattan resulted in a new logic board (which I assume is the motherboard).  A few weeks later I noticed that the keyboard and touchpad would stop working periodically.  They usually came back after a reboot, but by mid-December the problem was serious enough that I took it to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Chelsea.  That was a three-day stay (and a trip back to the mothership in Houston) for a new "top case" of a keyboard and touchpad.  I got the laptop back a few days before Christmas and it was great to have a fresh keyboard and non-worn-out touchpad, plus a fully functional 9 key.  But I suspected that something else would break sooner rather than later.

A few days ago I opened the laptop and saw that the speaker icon in the status bar was grayed out.  When I tried to play music I didn't hear anything.  System Preferences claimed that the internal speakers weren't there.  I plugged in headphones and external speakers and they worked, so the audio system itself was OK.  After a reboot my internal speakers came back.  But now they're not working again.

I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble of taking it back to the Genius Bar again in the next few weeks before the warranty runs out.  I suppose it is; if it's possible to fix the problem for free, I should do it.  Once the warranty is up I'm not getting anything fixed.  And I'm planning to buy a new MacBook Pro later this year when Apple refreshes their laptop lineup.  I just need to hold out until later this spring and hope that nothing else happens to this computer.  And I need to keep getting regular backups.  You never know when you'll lose a hard drive.

No comments: