Why I Wound Up Buying a Toshiba Ultrabook: An Epic Tale of Epic Woe and Epic-er Frustration

It’s been a while. Sorry about that.

I spent the holidays in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. One of the things that I absolutely had to do while I was in town was to buy a new laptop. My former machine, a low-end Dell, had become very worn out and tired. I attempted to make an informed decision. I asked for advice on Facebook from people who know more about these things than me and I read a ton of reviews on Amazon. I tried to buy one on Cyber Monday but couldn’t find anything that was quite right.

More than anything, there’s two features that I had to have: a keyboard without a keypad and a machine with a screen that wouldn’t bounce around while I type. As has been noted by others, I pound on keyboards and the power of my frantic keystrokes are worthy of Jerry Lee Lewis circa 1959 after he’s downed a bottle of pep pills and a fifth of whiskey. I don’t play PC games and don’t care about processor speeds? Uh, what the hell is a processor?

I put off the chore until after Christmas. My father urged me to check out the laptops at Costco but I figured that, while their prices probably couldn’t be beat, their selection would be minimal. Fry’s, a popular chain of electronics-clogged warehouses, wasn’t an option because it was all the way down in Wilsonville and I heard that they restock returned computers as new. One thing I hadn’t considered: “big box” retailers are becoming extinct. Where the bloody hell do Americans buy computers anymore? I had no clue. Circuit City? The one near my parents’ place had been replaced with a colossal pizza parlor. When did that happen?

According to my sister, who works in IT and is, as far as I’m considered, a Gandalf the Grey and a Gandalf the White rolled up into one when it comes to all things computers, “normal people” don’t buy laptops in stores anymore. Everyone goes looking for them online but I’m of the opinion that are some things that you shouldn’t buy sight unseen. Among them: underpants, normal pants, cars and laptops.

So I wound up at the Windows Store in downtown Portland, where every laptop on hand was a newfangled/overpriced monstrosity with off-centered keyboards and totally superfluous touchscreens (does anybody actually use those things? If so, how do they prevent them from becoming smeared with fingerprints?). By this point, the clock was ticking and I was getting desperate enough to even consider buying a Mac.

Yeah, I’m not much of a fan of Apple. While there’s no denying that their hardware is as solidly built as the door of a bank vault, I can’t stand their OS. Plus, man, oh man, they’re stuff is Ex. Spens. Ive.

I headed over to the Apple Store in Pioneer Place. HUGE MISTAKE. It was packed to the gills and, it should go without saying, the cheapest machine in there was way out of my price range. I had to almost, literally, claw my way to the door. It was a consumer feeding frenzy worthy of Henry David Thoreau’s worst fever dreams.

On my last day in Portland, tired and weary, I staggered into the Best Buy in Tigard. Only three machines there were gonna work for me: two super cheap HPs that seemed as delicate as Faberge eggs and the laptop I’m typing on now. Like just about all Windows-based laptops these days, it has an annoyingly glossy screen that renders it almost useless whenever it’s placed near an actual window during daylight hours (a pox on whoever decided to make all laptop screens over-reflective crapulence). It also has a touchscreen that, after just a few swipes, is already smeared with fingerprints. But it has a solid keyboard and the screen barely twerked while I was typing this.

Now if I could only prevent all these godforsaken clocks and widgets from popping up every 25 seconds. %@#$@#! TECHNOLOGY!

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