I, like a lot of other people, got a new laptop this holiday season. I upgraded my work laptop from a Dell model to the Lenovo U410, and in doing so I made a couple mistakes and learned a few tricks that I'd like to share.
My experience was far less painful than I expected, but it could still have worked out better. For example, i didn't do the right kind of research before buying this laptop.
User Reviews Trump Blogger Reviews
There are reviews that tell you how good a device is, and then there are reviews that tell you the problems with it. The former usually come from bloggers, while the latter often come from users.
My one biggest mistake was that I didn't go looking for user reviews. The U410 was universally loved by bloggers, and they reported much the same good news about the tablet. This wasn't a wunder-laptop but it sounded like it was a safe purchase (even after I filtered out the hype).
But this laptop was not spoken well of by at least some owners. There is a mess of posts on the Lenovo support forums complaining about the battery life. Many of the owners had not even hit 3 hours of battery life, much less the 5 or 6 hours which reviewers reported or the 8 hours of runtime which Lenovo lied about in the published specs.
The way to find user reviews, in particular the complaints about a device, is to google for the specific component. For example, if I had thought to search for "Lenovo U410 battery" I would have found the complaints.
This trick should help you find the known issues for pretty much any device, no matter the component.
Transferring Content, Profiles, and Apps
My old laptop was on its last legs (for about 8 months), but I kept putting off replacing it. I had just one reason for that; I didn't want to transfer over a few hundred gigabytes of content. That's one of the worst parts of setting up any new computer, one which I ignored as long as I could
It turns out that I should have looked for info on how to transfer the content; Microsoft now has an app which will transfer almost all of the content automatically. What's more, this app ships with all copies of Windows 7, so I already had it on my old and new computers.
It's called Windows Easy Transfer, and I had to leave it running in the background for a day and a half in order to let it work. It even caught the extra ebooks which I added to calibre while I was still using the older computer.
Unfortunately, it didn't transfer everything.
Apps Don't Transfer
I didn't find this out until after I went to run my reading apps and they weren't there. I had to reinstall everything. That's not a serious issue but it does take time and needs to be planned for.
And even though I had to install the apps, most were able to find the content which had been transferred. Calibre found my ebook library, plugins, and everything but a couple settings which I had to change to match my preferences.
DRMed Content Didn't Transfer
This probably comes as no surprise, but my ebook library of Nook, Kindle, and other DRMed ebooks were not copied to the new computer. If you have a collection Ultraviolet movies then you'll likely spend some time downloading them again.
Profiles Didn't Transfer
My Firefox configurations did not transfer, so I ended up having to copy them from the old computer to a thumb drive and then copy them to the Profiles folder on the new computer.
It didn't take much work, and on the upside this one step also copied all the plugins I was using (Grease Monkey, Adblock Plus, etc).
Speaking of plugins, I was surprised to learn that adobe Flash plugin was not included when i installed Firefox. That plugin, along with the PDF plugin, had to be installed separately. I still don't have the PDF plugin working; it keeps refusing to work.
All in all, this was not nearly the unpleasant experience I had while setting up my last couple laptops. Those were Dells, and I have a multitude of reasons for wishing that company would drop dead.