If you could care less about fashion or peony imprinted netbooks, then you probably missed it. But buried in my report on my trip to New York for HP and Vivienne Tam’s Fashion Week events was a video of Sarah, an HP employee, performing webcam surgery on my special edition Mini Note’s camera.
Make no mistake about it: I am grateful to her for fixing the problem and for making my netbook’s webcam usable.
Granted, this DIY webcam surgery was never a perfect solution; performing repairs on your own device is risky if you are not comfortable and confident doing such things, and the possibility of voiding the warranty is ever present. But after watching Sarah go at it with gusto I was unafraid, and I suspect many others were as well.
Because my netbook was one of the early Vivienne Tam editions, I thought that this problem might have only affected a small number of special edition Mini Notes. It now turns out that this was a more widespread issue than I thought, with other HP Mini Notes (not only special editions) being affected as well – including Joel’s.
There have been online grumblings that HP was not acknowledging that there was a problem at all, with people thinking that it might be a . However, it turns out that the darkened webcam is the direct result of a block of nearly opaque film which covers the webcam. In all likelihood, this was a protective film placed on the webcam during the manufacturing process which should have been removed. But now it is nothing more than a manufacturing defect, and as such it is not something that the average person should fret over or have to try to fix on their own.
I thought it was great that Sarah provided a solution available for those adventurous few who weren’t afraid to crack their Mini Notes and take care of business, which is why I felt no trepidation about posting the video.
Needless to say, HP was not pleased. The video offered a fix for a problem that they had yet to acknowledge, and yes - there absolutely was a potential that if devices were damaged while performing the fix, the repairs would not be covered by HP’s warranty.
This afternoon I removed the video of Sarah’s fix at the request of HP, and I posted this statement in my original article:
At the request of HP, I have removed the video of the webcam fix.
There are two reasons why I opted to do so.
The first is that doing the fix could potentially damage the HP MiniNote, and it would also void the warranty.
The second is that I have been assured that because of this video, HP has been forced to acknowledge the “film over the webcam” issue, and they are putting together an official statement with plan of action to properly fix customer’s Mini Notes that are affected by this problem.
If you have any questions about my decision, send me an email.
Of course, the rest of the story is this:
The cat is now out of the bag. The ball is now in HP’s court, and we will all be watching closely to see how they handle themselves. My hope is that HP will do the honorable thing – acknowledge the issue and make sure that anyone who purchases an affected device can get theirs repaired quickly and for free. The other thing HP should do is make sure that future units will not be sold with the problem.
Time will tell.
Update added 03/02/09: Mike Cane made a comment below that I should have included a photographic comparison; he was right. Since I didn’t know that my Tam was going to be fixed until shortly before it happened, I didn’t think to get a “before” shot.
I have an “after” shot however, and I have asked Julie Strietelmeier to take a “before” shot with both her Tam and her regular Mini Note. I’ll post Julie’s photos later tonight.
Me in a meh lit room, after the webcam fix:
Julie in a very well lit room, before the webcam fix:
Julie in a meh lit room, before the webcam fix:
Julie in a meh lit room, after the webcam fix: