Monday, September 12, 2011

Struggling with a new Lenovo

This morning I was given a pristine cardboard box containing a brand new Lenovo x220 laptop. It's a lovely little thing, all black and utilitarian and very, very light. Even after you've plugged the little hunchback battery into the back of it, it's still exceedingly svelte.

However, unlike my enormous old Hewlett Packaaaard laptop, the one with a 30-second battery and a central processor hotter than Vesuvius, there were a few surprises in store for me. Lenovo touchpads turn out to be very sensitive, as in you'll be typing on the keyboard and suddenly find that oh faark faark faark you're in completely the wrong part of a document. A thousand times over.

Not to worry, you think. There on the top row of buttons is the magic F8 button, which has a little icon showing you it will turn the trackpad off, so you can type uninterrupted. Lovely. Except that out of the box, it doesn't do a damn thing, and it was only after half an hour of fruitlessly pressing this button and then calling IT Support because I don't know how to work a computer any more that I discovered you have to download three extra bits of software from Lenovo's website, and then wow - your touchpad works, and can be turned on and off, and the ludicrous sensitivity can be set to something more practical.

I was so excited, I downloaded another software patch, so that the built-in webcam would work. It's a shame there wasn't built-in software for the built-in webcam, but hey ho, gift horse in the mouth and all that.

As the day went by, my back began to complain about me being hunched over a laptop and typing on the little keyboard, so I went and asked for a screen and a keyboard. They soon arrived, along with a dock, and I set about putting them together on my desk. After ten minutes of playing around with screen and dock and other cables, it became abundantly clear that I couldn't get my screen to work. Unless Lenovo had patented some kind of electricity-teleportation device, my monitor was going to do nothing, because I couldn't find the lead to plug it in to the mains. I searched the box it came in, to no avail. I searched the cardboard box the laptop came in, the cardboard box the dock came in, the cardboard box the keyboard came in. I considered searching the desk of the managing director, who's sat right next to me, but I figured on the first day in a new job, you don't want to make yourself look an utter pillock in front of the boss.

Finally I gave up and went over to the man who had brought me the screen. "I think I might be going mad, but I can't find the lead for my monitor," quoth I.

"Oh, they don't come in the box" he said, as if this was the most normal thing on earth, and he went off to the technological box-room to fetch me a cable. Was this something Lenovo charge extra for? It's baffling. Surely it would be more efficient to have a man in Shenzhen putting cables into boxes with the things that needed power cables. Wouldn't it? Or is the Gateway to China actually riddled with complexity and confusion? Who would be able to say?

Not me, because having plugged my monitor in, the damn thing wouldn't display an image, whether I used the old VGA cable, the brand new digital one, or sacrificed voodoo chickens to it.

I hummed and hawed, and then I went back to Lenovo's website, and installed more drivers and software, and all of a sudden the screen sprang into life. Which is nice and all, and it's wonderful that you can get these computers to work properly, but I can't help but think it would be nice if they were compatible with, well, their own keyboards, for a start.


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