Another Harebrained Microsoft Ad: Lauren and Her Quest

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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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