Perhaps in a big city like Jakarta, and certainly in Singapore, a person can go to a single high-tech store and find many choices for a laptop computer. Here in Batam, the process is a bit different.
My last computer purchase was in May 2010, shortly before I moved to Costa Rica. I sold my Mac desktop for a song because I knew I couldn’t lug that with me, and purchased a 15.6-inch HP. A nice laptop, with a vivid screen and lots of storage and bandwidth. It does, however, have two minor problems – the audio pickup for Skype is almost useless and has led me to use Skype very little; and it has a nasty habit of shutting off and not allowing it to be turned on. This has happened 5-6 times in the nearly three years since purchase.
I have brought the laptop into repair shops in Quepos, Costa Rica, Zadar, Croatia, and Batam, Indonesia. No one could figure out the problem, and often the computer would boot back up once the techie tried. One time when it shut down and wouldn’t restart I started using another laptop given to me; a few days laterI tried to restart the HP and it miraculously booted up. The last time, our outsourced tech guy here took it with him for four days before bringing it back and telling me it booted up on its own – again.
So it was time for a replacement.
I did some initial online research and determined that an ASUS with 3-4 megs of RAM, 2.4 Ghz and at least 500 megs of storage was what I wanted. Online, this would cost $400-450, but I can’t get it shipped here (and it probably wouldn’t make it through the mail anyway, as two packages of gifts never made it to me from the States).
Nagoya Hills, the nearest mall, has an extensive array of camera/cellphone/computer shops on its ground floor, so I solicited Sarijan as my interpreter and we headed to the mall. I wrote down what I wanted in a new laptop for show and tell.
Sarijan took me to where Doug recently bought an ASUS for about $320. It was a small shop, as most of them are, open at one end, with various brands of laptops displayed. They had a few ASUS models but none with the specs I wanted. They also had a few Lenovos, a few HPs, a few of this and a few of that. What they didn’t have was extensive choices in any of the brands.
We tried a second shop. Same inventory but with some different models. A third shop yielded the same. Here, though, I did talk with the owner, a woman, who understood some English and knew her inventory.
None of the three shops carried an ASUS model with the specs I found online, so I started considering other brands, including HP (which I decided to avoid because of the problems mentioned above). And the prices, surprisingly, were no better than they are online; in some cases they seemed higher.
Finally, I was shown a Compaq with the specs I wanted, although the screen size is smaller than my HP. It was priced at 4 million rupiah, roughly $440 and I negotiated a “best price” of 3.9 million. Adding in the 3% for using my credit card brought the total to above 4 million. I added another 600,000 rupiah ($60) for a 500 meg detached storage hard drive, something I’ve been putting off but essential for backing up all my photos and music.
I left both my old and computer and the new one at the shop overnight so that they could transfer all my files. Unfortunately, not all my preferences, bookmarks and such were mirrored in the new laptop, so I’m still adjusting. Programs like Skype and iTunes had to be downloaded from the Internet again, and I still do not have an e-mail client on the new machine, as it did not come loaded with that.
Now I have three laptops and Putrie wants one. I still use the HP for movies and video because of its bigger screen, and also use it for viewing TV shows like The Daily Show because, for some reason, the new laptop will not stream these. Technology is always so frustrating for us techotards.