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Asus Eee PC Breaks Again

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico- I must inform all readers, correspondents, prospective employees, friends, family, and all associates that VagabondJourney.com will be out of commission for an unspecified amount of time. The reason: The Asus Eee PC 1005 that I have been using to publish this website just kicked the bucket. This would be [...]

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico- I must inform all readers, correspondents, prospective employees, friends, family, and all associates that VagabondJourney.com will be out of commission for an unspecified amount of time.

The reason:

The Asus Eee PC 1005 that I have been using to publish this website just kicked the bucket.

This would be the third Asus Eee PC that I have been through in two years. It is funny that I brag so often about how tough these computers are, but I have personally had three break in 22 months.

I am unsure if I can continue relying on these computers any more.

A traveling webmaster must always be ready for their electronics to break from the rigors of the road or to have everything lost through theft — there are a thousand ways that travel can separate a traveler from functioning electronics. But when you are using a computer normally, when it has received no undue stress, when you baby it and nurture it 100% of the time and it still breaks (for no apparent reason) it is a true surprise.

In point, I was using this laptop normally — I was answering yet another question from someone who overstayed their visa in Europe — when, all of a sudden, the words I was typing failed to show up on the screen.

This was funny, the entire keyboard became completely unresponsive. I turn the computer off, turn it back on again, get a screen that says something like “push F2 to run set up or push tab to do something else.”

But I can not push F2 or tab, as the keyboard fails to function.

I am not too worried at this point — only annoyed. I turn the computer off, turn it back on while holding down Alt F2 and the computer goes into boot block mode.

Now I am worried: hardware issues can be fixed, if my problem was a bad wire leading from the keyboard to the innards of the computer then this can be repaired easily, but if the keyboard can still shoot some info into the processor and not others then I am in trouble.

Deep internal issues on a $250 Asus netbook are often not worth fixing — you just buy a new one and forget.

I bought this computer new only 8 months ago, it should not be malfunctioning.

Unless undue stress is put on a laptop I predict that they should last for two years. These Asus netbooks do not last this long — I went through three in less than two years. I traveled with a cheap-o Dell laptop for two years without any problems, and my parents are still using this computer daily. This Dell had been dropped, had a kid spill coffee all over the keyboad, had been beaten and battered in both the travel and domestic setting, and it still works. Meanwhile, I have had three Asus Eee PCs bite the dust.

I am going to take this computer in to a repair shop, but I fear for the worse.

I am frustrated, discouraged. This year I had already purchased a new computer for $250 because the previous one broke, a new camera for $300 because the previous one broke, and dropped over $1,000 on a Blackberry with a Global Data Plan that does not really work very well.

The more I try to move forward, the more I feel the forces of providence pulling me backwards. I feel as if I am trying to run with elastic straps attaching me firmly to a wall.

I thought about getting into another profession — leather working or silver smithing — but I knew that this was all just fancy thoughts to make me feel better in a moment of difficulty: it is easy to think about escape routes when you come to an unexpected brick wall. But I will keep going, I do not care if I need to replace ten new computers or buy twenty new cameras, I do not care if I put myself in the poor house from needing to prematurely replace expensive electronics regularly, I will keep going until I am, without a doubt, successful in this web publishing fiasco.

You can never fail at something unless you give up.

I will take the computer into a shop, face the worse, buy a new one if I have to, keep going.

Taking two steps forward just to take one step back is still moving forward.

Shop for travel computers

Related articles:

One week, two laptops broken

Original Asus not good for traveling webmaster

Filed under: Technology, Travel Gear, Travel Problems, Traveling Webmaster

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3398 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

15 comments… add one

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  • Dave from The Longest Way Home October 17, 2010, 8:06 am

    Had something similar happen last month, tore my keyboard apart. No luck. Ended up buying a flexible keyboard.

    Try plugging a usb keyboard in, and see if it boots. USB will bypass the on board keyboard.

    Keyboards are bad. They let in so much from dust, moisture to humidity.

    I’ve looked at Asus but would not buy. Go Acer or Sony. Yes, the cost is more, but they seem more durable.

    These days few things are made to last. But 3 laptops in 2 years is too much. I’d up the budget, know what you need. Buy it.

    With your new laptop burn that thing in over a 48 hour period. There’s a few programs that will keep the processor memory HD main board running at 100% during this period.

    If it doesn’t last. Take it back. Obviously make sure your warranty allows for exchange. If it does last. You should be good to go. Sad to say, but don’t let ANYONE touch it.

    I’ve let others use my old laptop and watched as they pounded the keyboard etc. This way, only you to blame.

    Those asus keyboard are plasticy little things. No protection. New laptop, pound that keyboard in store, if not plasticky it’s good. Otherwise, put it back.

    Hope you get back soon

    Dave

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 18, 2010, 7:52 pm

      Thanks Dave,

      Took the Asus around to some shops today. Left it in one for a dianostics test. I am not hopeful, the problems seems to be more than the keyboard. Will keep at it though, probably with a new laptop.

      Good advice on NEVER letting anyone else use your computer. I have not let ANYONE touch my computer for a couple of years now (exscept my wife, sometimes haha). I seem like a real dick:

      “Dude, can I check my email?”

      “No.”

      “Huh???”

      But this sort of vigilence is necessary if you want a computer around to run a business from.

      Thanks, man,

      Will be back soon.

      Link Reply
  • bigato October 17, 2010, 2:43 pm

    I have an asus eee 701 (first model), bought when asus began all this netbook thing. When I heard the news that asus would launch such a beautiful thing, I couldn’t wait for it. Small, solid-state drive, cheap… It would be perfect for my bike travels. I never really travelled with it, but I kept it working for a year with almost no interruption. It was making downloads all the time (to external hd), always on, a real server. I don’t use it so often now, as I got a old used desktop for that. But last month I began to have problems with keyboard: some keys have to be pressed really hard to work. (ALT, left SHIFT and CAPS LOCK). I was so disappointed. When I was a child, I had a tk-90x (zx-spectrum clone) that introduced me to the world of computers. It worked all my childhood. I was hoping that eee could last a little longer than 2 years! I came to your blog trying to find out on the internet if others was having the some problem. If it really stopped working, I will try to open it and see if some cleaning will fix it.

    Before eee, I bought a nikon d70s. It was really expensive to me, but I thought that I was buying a good piece of hardware from a traditional manufacturer. I thought that it would last. Man, no more than two years and it failed. The cmos sensor burned. The price of a new sensor would be so high that I gave up on it. Maybe I was to blame on this one, as I took it with me in some travels with my bike and even when I was camp in high moutains here in Brazil. I never had the courage again to buy an slr camera. My present camera is a small simple olympus that is said to be tough and resist to water and drops.

    For my next netbook, maybe I will try a dell mini.

    If I still had the intentions to travel the world by bike, I would stick to a old film-camera, and a pen for writing a diary. But I really hope you get to keep your travel connected, as you are trying to make a living this way. Maybe some manufacturer hear us and decides to build a really tough hardware for us.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 28, 2010, 7:45 pm

      Had the first one too, it worked well for a while, and then I tried to do too much with it haha. A 4 gig hard drive is not enough haha.

      Right on, sometimes buying cheaper electronic gear and replacing it more often works out better in the long run: even the most expensive laptop could break. So, for traveling at least, it is my impression that I am just going to go with the cheapest laptops I can find and expect to replace them yearly (if they last that long haha).

      Thanks for sharing your experience here, it is real helpful!

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

      Link Reply
  • Paulo Martins October 18, 2010, 2:36 pm

    sad to hear that dude. Forget the EEE’s and get a Acer Aspire One. Mine is still running great. I reckon my Acer enjoys the jungle humidity. hehe

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 18, 2010, 8:02 pm

      Looking at the Acers and the small Sonys. Man, I do not know what to do with myself these days haha.

      Link Reply
  • craig | travelvice.com October 19, 2010, 10:54 pm

    Tatiana has an EEE 1008HA here in the house, so lemme know if you need any troubleshooting from here.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 25, 2010, 3:16 pm

      Thanks Craig,

      I knew the computer was dead pretty much from the start. I took it around to some tech shop only to be given the same conclustion: hard drive works, windows works, memory chip is good (even tried it with another to no avail), and the ultimate answer was the it is the motherboard.

      I have been sitting in limbo for the past week unsure of how to proceed: buy a computer for double the cost in Mexico or return to the USA?

      We think we may go back to the USA for Christmas anyway, but I don´t think I could go that long without publishing: the site is our main source of income, and the amount that we have have been brining in has shot up drastically in the past couple of months.

      So it is looking like I am going to walk out to the mall and drop $350 on an Acer netbook.

      Have to get back at it.

      Link Reply
  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell October 22, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Hi. Damn. Computer blues are bad – especially on the road. The worse.

    I have been traveling with laptops since 1994 – Sony, Dell, Compact – and have had an ASUS M5 (powerful for Photoshop editing, etc) the past 4 years – bought in Cambodia and this has set a super-laptop endurance record for me.

    At 1.5kg, and very powerful – CPU,RAM – my machine is still with me … Having suffered a battering in journeys across West Africa, Central America, & SE Asia, I now here in China, I can say that it is one of the best computers – EVER. (But it’s not powerful enough for new HD video and I can’t upgrade the CPU; so, I need a new machine … soon).

    OK. It’s not an EE – but there are other products so don’t discard ASUS so fast, cos they will give you way-more bang for you buck than Sony, HP, Dell, etc. (unless you can buy mega-specials on Amazon.com etc). ACER, LENOVO – Chinese/ex-IBM, are also great value.

    Regards – MRP | the candy trail … a nomad across the world, since 1988

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 28, 2010, 7:35 pm

      Good story.

      Truly, I do not want to give up on the Asus, as I believe they are a good, low cost, global computer brand. But, man, I went through three Eee PCs in 22 months haha. But, in the end, I suppose I have to equate how much money I put into these computers:

      The first I think I paid $400 for, the second was a generous gift, the third cost me $250. So that means that I paid $650 for two years of computing. If I add in the value of the Asus that was given to me then I am still looking at under $1,000 for computers. A standard, $1,000 to $2,000 laptop generally will only last a year or two of travel, so I still think I am doing alright.

      It is just annoying when your computer kicks the bucket, as you well know haha. Amazing that your Asus lasted through so many years of traveling, I will surely keep this in mind the next time I need a new computer.

      But, for now, I think I need to stray away from Asus. Wanted an Acer but went with a Compaq — at $275 it was the cheapest netbook that I could find (I also wanted it to run XP as well).

      Thanks for the tips on computer buying, and, believe me, I will not give up on the Asus, just need a little break haha.

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

      Link Reply
  • dad October 27, 2010, 8:06 pm

    buy a new computer,you wont regret it

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 28, 2010, 6:21 pm

      Just did, we are back in business!

      Link Reply
  • vagabondette October 29, 2010, 12:01 pm

    Bummer. I’m on my 2nd Asus and I love them. I’ll probably never buy another brand. I’ve tried out the others and I can’t stand them – either the keyboards are wonky or the mouse pad is wonky or something is just off. My first Asus I nuked. My 2nd is working well (knock on wood). 🙂

    Hope you enjoy the new setup.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 29, 2010, 1:44 pm

      Thanks Mandy,

      Lets see how far this computer gets me haha.

      Link Reply
      • Dean December 3, 2013, 2:15 am

        Hi mine is asus eee pc 1005h with build in wireless 3.5g modem.so i get internet doen`t matter where i go so i loved it so much.it worked well for 2 years now i got same problem like yours . i replaced the keyboard problem is gone.dust and moisture short out the keyboard thats what happend?

        Link Reply