I suffered a loss recently: My trusty, first-generation iPhone’s touch screen gave up the ghost. On a sunny day in early June, it let loose this mortal coil. And, like every other piece of technology I’ve ever owned, the touch screen stopped responding at the worst possible moment—as I was in a cab on my way to the first leg of a two-week trip.
Upon landing in Los Angeles, my first stop was an Apple store, where one of the Apple-proclaimed “geniuses” explained my options. My first choice was to get a replacement phone for a mere $200 (I hadn’t bothered to buy the extended warranty). My other option was simply to pound sand. I took my busted phone and bid the Apple store and its smug “geniuses” farewell, vowing to never buy another iPhone.
Next stop was AT&T to purchase a new, non-iPhone phone. I put my name on the we’ll-help-you-when-we’re-good-and-damn-well-ready list, and started looking at phones. After an hour or so of waiting, I walked out of the building with a new Blackberry Bold and considered my mission accomplished.
Remember that whole fiasco with Nvidia graphics-based notebooks giving up the ghost because of a "weak die/packaging material set?" That manufacturing defect ended up costing Nvidia millions of dollars in warranty repairs. It also led to extended warranties by some OEMs, the latest of which is Sony.
"Sony, in cooperation with Nvidia, has been looking into any possible effect to Vaio notebooks with Nvidia graphic processors. Until recently we had not identified any Vaio models that were affected by this issue," Sony said in an eSupport USA notice.
The statement went on to disclose that a "very small percentage" of Nvidia-based Vaio PCs may exhibit "distorted video, duplicate images, or a blank screen" because of the faulty GPU.
According to Sony, affected models include the Vaio VGN-AR1xx, VGN-AR2xx, VGN-AR3xx, VGN-FZ1xx, VGN-FZ2xx, VGN-FZ3xx, VGN-FZ4xx, VGC-LT1xx, and and VGC-LT2xx series. For those who need repair service because of a failing GPU, Sony said it will provide a three year warranty extension.
Nvidia’s second quarter profits are evidence poor quality costs much more than just bad PR. The company recorded a charge of $119 million to cover warranty costs associated with faulty die and weak packaging materials used in its graphics chips. This is significantly better than the $196 million it had already written off for the same reason, but it was still much higher than analysts were expecting.
Most of these issues can be traced back to a faulty solder bump that was discovered in its 8M-series mobile graphics chip. Nvidia estimated at the time that the warranty costs could be somewhere in the range of $200 million, but clearly the $315+ million they have already spent shows they were perhaps a bit overly conservative in their estimates. This might be a result of the problem reportedly cropping up in G92 and G94 series mobile cards as well, but Nvidia has been pretty tight lipped on the issue.
When asked to comment on the charge Nvidia downplayed the impact and described them as a small distraction. Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims it hasn’t impacted Nvidia’s ability to launch new products, and he expects profits to rise in the near future. Huang is being optimistic, but he is likely hoping to reassure investors who saw the company’s revenue drop this quarter to $776.5 million from $892.6 million only a year ago. “The company has invested in new products such as Tesla, a graphics processing unit for high-performance computing, and low-power Tegra chips for mobile devices. The products should start contributing to the revenue stream soon”, Huang said.
A few weeks after Jesse Vincent, an inveterate hacker, yielded to his strong urge to hack another popular gadget, Savory was born. Savory is a Kindle 2 app that converts .pdf and .epub files into the .mobi format supported by the ebook reader. Though similar solutions have been available on the internet for quite sometime, Savory is unique as it executes the conversion on Amazon’s ebook reader itself. But like all great things, Savory has its limitations. It doesn’t support Kindle 1 and won’t convert ebooks protected by DRM. Please note that running unsigned code may void your manufacturer’s warranty.
Bare (aka "OEM") hard disk drives have always been good deals for tech-savvy shoppers (aka the typical Maximum PC reader) - buy a drive in an anti-static bag, provide your own mounting screws, download a disk management utility from the vendor's website, and you can save a lot of greenbacks, without a sacrifice in warranty coverage.
That's about to change. Channel Register reports that Seagate's bare drives for desktop and laptop computers are about to take a 2-year cut in warranty coverage. Starting January 3, 2009, bare drives will have 3-year limited warranties, compared to the current 5-year limited warranty. Seagate says that they'll use the ship-to-dealers date of January 3, 2009 and beyond to calculate warranty terms, but I'd recommend holding on to your sales receipt, especially if you're buying a last-minute Christmas gift or grabbing an after-Christmas sale.
To find out why Seagate is reducing its bare drive warranty period, and to see how it stacks up to its competitors, join us after the jump.
Troubleshooting a dead motherboard can be enough of a pain in the backside all on its own, but once you've reached the conclusion that your board has given up the ghost, the prospect of a lengthy wait for a replacement only adds insult to injury. Asus seeks to alleviate this frustration with its new Asus Premium Service (APS) program, which offers eligible motherboard owners the option of having a replacement board cross-shipped free of charge.
"ASUS offers today’s discerning motherboard customer the widest range of choice for enthusiast platforms,” said Sales Director Timothy Lin of ASUS North America. “By combining the most stable motherboards and unique features with comprehensive customer support, we expect ASUS motherboards to remain the enthusiast’s first choice."
Initially, a pair of X58-based boards qualify for the program along with several other high end models, including the latest Republic of Gamers (ROG) mobos.The no-cost advance-RMA service is good for one year after the original purchase date and a valid credit card is required. More details can be found on Asus' APS Service Terms page.