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Summary:

Have you seen the ad yet? Lauren only has to find a laptop computer with a 17-inch screen for under a grand and she gets to keep it. Lauren is a redhead. Long, thick, curly, lovely red hair. Did I mention redheads rule? Well, they do. […]

hp_17_inch

Have you seen the ad yet? Lauren only has to find a laptop computer with a 17-inch screen for under a grand and she gets to keep it.

Lauren is a redhead. Long, thick, curly, lovely red hair. Did I mention redheads rule? Well, they do. Curse you, Microsoft, for using Lauren in this ad. Her engaging personality and infectious enthusiasm blinded me, and I eagerly sought the HP web site to pick up that great 17-inch laptop. After all, if it’s good enough for Lauren…

We don’t know exactly what laptop she got, but it’s an HP and has a 17-inch screen. It also rang up for $699, so that narrows the field quite a bit. On the HP notebook page we see the G70t series is listed as having 17-inch screens. Clicking for details, we see a “Quick Ship” model for $699, detailed here. I’m not saying this is the exact model Lauren got, but I think we can all agree it has to be darn close.

Let’s take a look:

  • Screen resolution is 1440 x 900. This is only one step up from the MacBook Lauren admitted she wasn’t cool enough to own, yet comes at the cost of a huge and heavy notebook. I’m amazed at the marketing of screen sizes in the PC world, where the 13-, 14-, 15-, and even many 16-inch models come standard with WXGA resolution.
  • Last year’s Intel 2.0 GHz processor on last year’s 800MHz front-end bus.
  • 3GB of last year’s DDR2 memory.
  • Claimed support of 4GB memory, but of course the 32-bit Vista OS can’t address that much, so it’s a bunch of baloney.
  • Intel-integrated graphics, which will help suck the 3GB memory dry. Oh, and provide minimal performance.
  • Don’t worry about the performance, though, because it’s not as if any worthwhile software comes with the thing. Certainly nothing like iLife.
  • No Bluetooth, but then Lauren probably isn’t cool enough to own any BT devices, either.
  • The battery? Much like screen sizes, this is another thing PC makers don’t talk a lot about. They keep it small so their already too-heavy notebooks don’t appear even more so. It’s a six-cell battery, which appears to be “up to” 3.5 hours battery life. That’s maybe 2.5 in the real world. Ouch!
  • Oh well, as big and heavy as it is you won’t be taking it far from a power outlet anyway, so it doesn’t matter that you can’t.

So, is my point that the HP machine is crap? No. Seriously, it’s not. My point is it’s built to a price, and heavily compromised in the process. Nothing wrong with that; it is what it is.

But Microsoft’s (and HP’s) implication that PC vendors are charging cheap prices yet providing non-cheap components is a load of bull fecal matter. The vendors are — as they’ve always done — selling older CPUs and weak graphics, in a huge case, with little battery life, and festooned with stickers like it’s a trunk that just got back from an around-the-world cruise.

If that’s your thing, great! Add some software and knock yourself out. But don’t kid yourself into thinking you got anything more than you paid for, or found some sort of computer bargain, or know some secret the rest of us aren’t clued in on. You asked for little, and that’s exactly what you got. Of course, if low-ball is really what Lauren was after, she’d have looked into Linux, but this is a Microsoft ad so we’re only concerned with the price of hardware.

Next up, Lauren goes shopping for a car with eight speakers, power everything, and a navigation system. She gets a Kia after deciding she’s not cool enough for a BMW.

Clearly, Lauren doesn’t mind because she’s inexperienced and got the thing for free. Microsoft, please offer me that same deal. I’ll set even lower expectations than Lauren, get some $299 eWaste Linux PC, and save the remaining $700 for Apple’s new Mac mini touch tablet whatever machine due to be released any day now.

Meanwhile, I’m glad Microsoft doesn’t take the Lauren saga to its conclusion. She’ll wise up eventually, and I can honestly say it’d break my heart to see her pulling all that hair out.

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  1. It’s worth pointing out that while Lauren is indeed hot, she’s also an actress and not a “real person.” I know a lot of people will say that the audience is more sophisticated nowadays and that most will see through it, but thousands of yokels in trailer parks below the mason-dixon line will believe she’s real.

  2. Would be cool to see Lauren arrive at home and pressing the power on button the first time and wasting her time deleting all the trial software and buying/installing a virus software for an extra yearly rate of $59 or more.

    Btw. I like the stickers on the inside of the HP – wow.

  3. @1 I’ve heard she’s a real person, and an office manager of some sort (who knows if she’s real or not, of course, but there *are* attractive, charismatic people out there who aren’t actors, or who can give an honest appraisal of something without it being scripted).

    As for the ad itself, I thought it was cool. I’m writing this on a MBP, though I have been put off more and more by the culture of cool of Apple as of late. It seems like the ad was attempting to point out to that vast majority of people out there who just want a computer that’s good enough to do extremely basic tasks that they can do that more cheaply with a PC than a Mac.

    Now, sure, you can get into a strict performance comparison, and OBVIOUSLY a $699 computer isn’t going to compare to a $2000 computer, or even a $1000 computer. But so what? Isn’t the main thing that a person finds what’s comfortable for them? Many people aren’t computer enthusiasts, and just want it to complete a task.

    I’m friends with a chef, and he’s got a collection of extremely expensive knives. Why? Because he’s expert, and he actually can tell the difference. Me? I’ve got regular old knives, because who cares? They cut things well enough, and the fact that I COULD spend a lot more money on a superior product — whose benefits I wouldn’t necessarily even notice — doesn’t mean that my less expensive gear sucks.

    The anti-Microsoft anger is interesting, though. Why so angry, Tom?

  4. What really matters is the customer satisfaction after the sale, because that is what builds brand loyalty.

    I would be surprised if Lauren is still as happy with her purchase a year from now.

  5. Stuart Dootson Friday, March 27, 2009

    Tom – if you look at the Microsoft page for that ad., there’s a link to the BestBuy page for the HP laptop Lauren ‘bought (it’s http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=9166635&st=hp+dv7&lp=1&type=product&cp=1&id=1218041148373).

    The specs show that the display resolution and battery life conform to your expectations, the processor is AMD, there’s 4GB RAM and the graphics are by ATI.

  6. This is some spot on analysis. All I could think was does she have a Facebook page? Can we follow her on twitter? She can use my MacBook anytime.

  7. Howie Isaacks Friday, March 27, 2009

    I think a lot of people are seeing through this idiotic ad campaign. This is yet another illustration that Microsoft does not understand why there is a growing number of customers moving to the Mac. If price were the issue, Apple would be out of business, or be forced to move to a lower pricing scheme. When Microsoft claims that the only thing that is different is a “logo”, they show how arrogant they really are, and also how much they disrespect consumers for making a choice that is different from Microsoft.

  8. I didn’t read any anger in this article, just incredulity. Really, why does Microsoft have such stupid ads? Is there a particular reason for it? They have enough money, they can hire an advertising agency that doesn’t suck.

    As for customer satisfaction, you’re so right, CVB. I’ve had four family members/friends buy PC laptops in the past year, and it usually only takes a couple months before the frustrations rise to surface.

  9. I love those Seinfield ads, though. I wish they had kept those coming.

  10. Stuart,

    Go back and READ the article, windows cannot address more than 3 GB of RAM. Period, no matter how much is installed.

    1. Correction, Vista 32 can not address more then 3 GB of ram (which is what I assume is typically installed on PC’s). How ever Vista 64 can address alot more then 3 GB.

    2. My windows machine has 32 gb of RAM. But it has 8 quad core processors and 8 TB of storage running X64. Not your normal windows machine.

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