The Case of the Cursed Computer

I didn’t know when she showed up on my doorstep how much trouble she would be. Small framed, Asus Slate kept her true capabilities under wraps. At first I was taken with her; the way she used Word was intoxicating…

Ah, nuts. I don’t think I can keep this up. Bought an ASUS Slate B121 a couple of years ago. Props to ASUSTek for getting Windows 7 Pro (64-bit, no less) running in a 12″ tablet. Real Microsoft Office apps, not dumbed down versions. This is the portable computer I always wanted. The large screen means I could prop it up portrait style and see a standard page at 85-90% zoom. Perfect for working on my novel.

The first problem was with input – the Bluetooth keyboard fell asleep every few seconds, and there was a stylus instead of a mouse, which I found to be an awkward combination. Tried a Bluetooth mouse, but conflicts. Tried wireless mouse, but running two radios was rough on battery life. Bought Logitech wireless keyboard with glidepad. Much better. Turned Bluetooth off, extended battery life a bit. That big screen really drains batteries – I might get three hours on a good day.

Shortly after the warranty ran out, the power supply failed, so I could not recharge it. Sent it away to ASUS; they fixed it for free, which was nice of them. While I was waiting, I tackled the battery issue by buying an XPAL power pack.  When the tablet came back, I found that the selection of included connectors did not include the one I needed. Located free tip on XPAL site, got it sent out. When I had all the adapters to connect the fancy battery to the fancy tablet, it turned out the battery was a dud. XPAL tech support said send it in. They didn’t say where, so I looked up their address on their website. Big mistake. Due to XPAL Power posting the wrong address on their Canadian mirror site, my defective battery spent Christmas in Modesto, California, caught in Santa’s blizzard. Eventually, it came back, and I got the proper address from XPAL and sent it again. To Irvine, California. After wasting weeks getting it to them, it was promptly replaced and life was wonderful. For a few weeks.

In the middle of a vacation, the Slate became unable to connect to WiFi. Any Wifi. It could pick up networks, but could not log on. Resetting and reloading the network adapter did not solve the problem. The solid state drive on the ASUS is small, and does not contain a restore partition. Restore DVDs are available from ASUS, but cost $50 plus shipping. Seems harsh. Complete factory reset accomplished nothing other than busting my Windows install back to a very old build that could not be modernized because no Windows Update because no Wifi. So now my tablet that used to work except for not being able to go online is completely crippled. I suspect that the radio transmitter failed, so that the tablet could sense networks, but not talk to them.

Got a second RMA and shipped Slate back to ASUSTek in Concord, Ontario, Canada. It never arrived. Canada Post says it has been delivered. In Concord, California, USA. Frankly, this amazes me. It was not supposed to leave the province, much less the country. How on Earth did it get into the US without a customs label or a valid American Zip Code? And why didn’t the US Postal Service notice that it was addressed to a Canadian address with a (very foreign looking) Canadian Postal Code? And where exactly did they deliver it? Surely there is not an identical street name and number in the wrong city in the wrong country!

Naturally, I found all this out on the cusp of a four-day weekend. Maybe I will have calmed down a little by the time the post office resumes answering the phone on Tuesday. Maybe.


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