(I can believe the price tag, for south western British Columbia is in a decades-long "leaky condo" debacle, where tens of thousands of units need to be rebuilt after local authorities approved architectural plans that allowed rain to leak inside the building envelop, leading to hidden rotting inside walls. My dad last year paid $72,000 as his share of his condo's year-long retrofit job. Local governments, being what they are, refused to take responsibility.)
I get the feeling that capacitors made in China are becoming the drywall of the computing industry. Earlier this year, my $300 Internet radio failed; I found out that the Chinese-made power supply in Roku's SoundBridge radios consistently fail after 2-3 years, due to deteriorating capacitors. (Could this be the reason Roku got out of the Internet radio business?) Roku takes no responsibility, and so third parties are available to replace the power supply for about $100.
Now we learn from the New York Times that bad capacitors are plaguing computers from Dell, HP, and others. In Dell's case, some 11 million failed due to capacitors poorly manufactured by Nichicon of China. Dell knew of the problem, but went to far as to deny it existed as to lie to its own legal firm, whose 1,000 own Dell computers had failed at roughly the same time. Perhaps denial was aided by Dell learning the problem affected 10x more computers than they first estimated.
(Capacitors even out the flow of electricity, by storing and then slowly releasing it. The components are used to suppress electrical noise, protect against power surges, and so on. They are made from tightly wound strips of very thin metal; a sign that they failed is that they bulge and leak insulating material. A sign of a bad batch of capacitors is that many related products will fail at roughly the same time.)
This makes me wonder if bad capacitors are the problem in HP's line of "tx" notebook computers, which are notorious for failing after a year or two. Like Dell used to, HP is still denying there is a problem. But my tx1000's motherboard failed twice in 18 months -- as has those of thousands of other owners. (The repair is $440, the cost of a new netbook. I had it repaired once under my credit card's extended warranty; but now it is techno-junk.)
How far will a hardware company go in denying liability? Here are the opening lines from the NYT article:
After the math department at the University of Texas noticed some of its Dell computers failing, Dell examined the machines. The company came up with a unusual reason for the computers' demise: the school had overtaxed the machines by making them perform difficult math calculations.
I am hoping that the capacitor problem revealed by the law suit against Dell will pressure HP to bring relief to unhappy tx owners.