Thursday, I got an email from Best Buy with notification that that my new HP Pavilion dv1000 laptop is shipping. Now at the time I filled out the paperwork for the laptop, I was given the option for 2-day shipping, which seemed reasonable, even though the estimated arrival date was something like April 8, which apparently had something to do with my laptop not even being built yet. I clicked on the email link to FedEx to check the status of the package and the arrival date showed as April 6. Now I'm not a math genius, but March 31 to April 6 seems to be a few days more than two. Then I noticed where the laptop was shipping from - Shanghai, China. Knowing that virtually all laptops are built in either China or Korea (often with competing products built on the same assembly lines), this means I really am getting a factory direct model.
To echo my opinion about the value of having a service plan for portable hardware, Mike Burda weighs in with laptop woes of his own. It seems his Dell experienced a couple of major catastrophes that were recovered, but not without the expense of time and some new parts. In general, I find replacement plans on computer parts to be a waste of money, if you are comfortable making the replacement yourself. Like any other form of insurance, you are placing a bet that something will go wrong so that you derive value from the service plan. The company issuing the service plan is playing the averages counting on selling more service plans than they need to spend on repairs related to the plans. For something that sits on your desk, the likelihood of parts going bad is minimal unless the manufacturer makes lousy products. For a laptop you inherently assume more risk because it's portable. You can put the machine in a padded case when you transport it, but it still gets jostled around in the car, on a plane or in your bag as you're walking down the street. The likelihood of something going wrong (even in more expensive units) goes up because there are more variables involved. Laptops are very hard to repair on your own, with the exception of replacing hard drives and memory. At that, you're looking at the out-of-pocket expense for the parts. Compared to the hundreds of dollars in health and automobile insurance costs we incur annually (often with no obvious return on investment), $250 over 3 years to cover potential equipment failure looks cheap.
There's a new ebook coming on Monday. For those curious about podcasting, my Podcasting Starter Kit will be available sometime before Noon Pacific time on April 4. In addition to covering some of the basics required to get started in podcasting, many of the more complex issues associated with editing audio files, dealing with hosting considerations and the many methods for improving the sound of your recording are addressed in detail in the guide. Anyone subscribed to MediaBlab Premium will receive this ebook as part of their membership benefits. I will be offering a discounted rate to newsletter and RSS subscribers for the first 48 hours the ebook is available. Of course, you can also read through many of my free articles on podcasting in the archives.