September 11, 2013, 3:28 PM — Out of all the computing hassles you can face, nothing quite compares to dropping your laptop on a hard floor. Because, typically, that's the end of your laptop.
Or maybe not.
What happened was this: I had my backpack on my kitchen table (it's a "gathering table," and therefore higher than most). I went to slip my laptop into the zippered side pocket as I've done a hundred times, but just at that moment, something distracted me.
Milliseconds later, I heard a terrible thunk. Not realizing I'd missed the pocket, I'd released my grip on the machine, and it went tumbling to the floor. Landed right on its corner, too.
I'm sure you can guess the rest: the casing cracked, the screen splintered. My laptop lay broken, bleeding. Oh, the humanity. I envisioned a difficult data-extraction process and an expensive visit to Amazon or my local computer store for a replacement system.
Except none of that actually happened. When I picked up the unit, I was shocked to discover it looked fine. Like, 100-percent fine. Not a nick or ding or anything on it. And it booted right up, no worse for the wear.
Let me pause right here to note that when it comes to buying computer gear, I'm as cheap as they come. I typically buy the least-expensive hardware I can find, my rationale being that it's usually just as good as the pricier stuff, at least for my needs.
But earlier this year I found a great deal on a Samsung Series 9 ultrabook, one that was too good to pass up. It had exactly the features I wanted--thin, lightweight design, SSD storage, backlit keyboard, etc.--so I splurged.
What never entered my mind was the value of an aluminum chassis, which is what enabled the system to survive its fall. So tough is the Series 9, in fact, that it dented the floor. My Pergo-covered kitchen floor, which has withstood every form of punishment two children can exact, showed a small divot where the laptop landed.
Ultrabook 1, floor 0.
The moral of the story is this: it may cost extra, but a metal laptop is much better at withstanding sudden bursts of gravity than a plastic one. That's something to consider the next time you go shopping.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at email@example.com. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter (which is included in the Power Tips newsletter) e-mailed to you each week.