My HP Pavilion was misbehaving by September of 2005 but I somehow put off buying a replacement until April of 2006. The problem was a motherboard crack that affected the power. I could minimize its surprise shut-downs by keeping it stationary so I nursed it through the winter by doing just that and using the aged but trusty Toshiba Portege from time to time. Because both the Portege and the Libretto had served me well, when I finally I went shopping it was specifically for a Toshiba. For $850 I got a Satellite A105 with an 80 GB hard drive and a 1.7 GHz Intel Celeron processor running Windows XP. I believe it might have come home with 512 MB RAM but I soon brought that up to the maximum 2 GB. This was a pretty nice machine.
I suspect this was about the time laptops were really hitting their stride in terms of popularity. In the world of consumer electronics, popularity often leads to economies of scale (once the leading edge gouging is over) and competition also drives prices down. Just two years before, I’d paid close to $1400 for a comparable laptop and that wasn’t particularly expensive. Nor was the $850 price of the Satellite particularly cheap. By 2006, laptops were well on their way to becoming a commodity just as desktop computers had before them.
I believe my faith in Toshiba was justified. Although the HP Pavilion was a little more than two years old when I replaced it, it was really limping for the final six months. The Satellite was still working when I retired it after nearly three years. It made me nervous though. It had taken to overheating unless given lots of open space. The teeth or bars had long since broken out of the cooling vent on the side and there were a couple of real cracks elsewhere in the plastic case. Wiggling the power cable could interrupt the flow of electricity and I feared this indicated a broken connection at the computer end. The Portege had once shown similar symptoms. That problem had clearly originated with cracks in the case and had required some bartered for expert repair.
I’m quite happy with the Satellite’s successor but I may have, in hindsight, retired the Satellite prematurely. I imagine the cooling issues could have been solved with a good cleaning and I’ve become convinced that the power problems came from a break in the cable and not a break inside the computer. The case continued to disintegrate making it likely that continued living on the road would have eventually broke something of importance but it still boots up and could possibly still perform in a pinch.