Published Jul 30, 2004

So I love my Dell Dimension D600. It’s reasonably fast, I actually like the keyboard, I haven’t had any trouble with the trackpoint (the complaints sound like people who didn’t realize that many Windows laptops have their trackpoints set to scroll and double-click and stuff like that with taps on the touchpad), I got a larger, slower, cooler hard drive so the wrist rest is never uncomfortable. I’m a little disappointed with the LCD, it’s only as good as my almost 5-year-old Powerbook’s was.

So the laptop itself is fine. The problem is the TrueMobile 2300 wireless router I got as an afterthought.

I figured, why not upgrade from my 4-year-old Apple Airport base station to something with 802.11g (speed) and 128-bit WEP or WPA (security)? The TrueMobile 2300 was just $80-something. A good buy. If it worked. Of course, it didn’t.

The connection was fast and secure, and the router was easy-to-manage. Unfortunately, the connection dropped all the time. One friend had to turn off the sound on their computer because I was playing a fricking symphony, I was dropping off and logging onto instant messenger so often. I couldn’t do e-mail, research, or update this blog, ‘cause I couldn’t stay on for more than a few minutes.

I tried to fix it myself, changing the router’s setup in various ways, to no avail. So I called Dell tech support. They were nice, and I was nice back. I explained how I’d approached the problem systematically, explained my setup, explained my lack of 2.4GHz phones, explained how the Airport base station had worked fine in exactly the same spot for eight months. Two seperate Dell techs worked on the unit, and sent me out a replacement. They were nice enough to send the replacement before I returned the broken unit, which was very convenient. Sadly I was not aware of the darker strategy which underlay the techs’ cooperative and helpful approach to fixing my three-week-old TrueMobile 2300.

The replacement worked no better. Since the unit, and probably the design, is faulty, and I got two that didn’t work, I didn’t want to keep my TrueMobile 2300. I just wanted to send it back. But the kindly techs spent an entire phone call trying to get the thing to work. They were so nice and knowledgeable, I was happy to give it until the next day.

But the next day was no better. I set up the Airport again to double-check that I wasn’t missing some environmental source of interference, and to confirm that it wasn’t the TrueMoble 1300 card in my Latitude D600 that was the problem. But everything works with the Airport, so clearly the problem is the TrueMobile 2300 router. So I called Customer Service; with two bad units, I should simply be able to return the product, right?

Wrong. See, while I was waiting for the first replacement, my 21-day return deadline passed. After that, nothing can get the unit returned. Now I have a third new TrueMobile 2300, and a nasty letter telling me I need to send back the broken one they last sent me. It’s an $80 product. What’s worth fighting over? All I can think now is how much trouble I had over this $2000+ purchase because of this $80 item. I’ll certainly never buy another Dell peripheral; taking back the broken item would’ve been no skin off anybody’s stiff upper lip. Ah well, I’m probably going back to a Mac in a few years anyway.