A while back I got burglarated, triggering lots of people to be very nice to me and my insurance company to give me – after some wrangling – a large sum of money. At first they’d tried to offer me vouchers to buy inferior replacements from a rather loathesome overpriced appliance chain. When I explained in the politest possible terms that Comet’s lines constituted a sort of unfunny parody of actual electronics, they offered me a cheque for the total sticker price of their suggested replacements. The fact that these were vastly inferior items was seemingly not a factor in Comet’s near-criminal pricing of them, so I did the maths and took the cash.
Since James commenters were actually a deciding factor in my buying some of this stuff in the first place, and since I was going to blog oozingly about a lot of these black digital delicacies before I lost them anyway, here’s what I was robbed of and what I got back:
Replaced for the same price with an EEE 1000HE, with 300% larger storage capacity, 50% longer battery life and a 500% nicer keyboard.
The main things I wanted my EEE 1000 for were the battery life – six hours, more if you disable stuff – and the 40GB solid-state drive. It’s since been discontinued, and nothing worth buying has gone down the solid-state route since. The 1000 HE might have a hard drive, but it evidentally hasn’t hurt the battery life: this motherfucker lasts nine and a half hours. There are days I don’t last nine and a half hours.
I’ve been totally in love with both netbooks. It turns out the only surefire way to lure me away from my computer for any length of time is to give me another, smaller computer, on which I can write, browse, watch video and play Dice Wars, Spelunky and Deus Ex.
The new one fixes my only real irritation with the last: an akwardly placed shift key. I didn’t realise how much that was bothering me until I started seriously typing on the new one – I’m as fast and accurate on this as a full-size ergonomic.
Replaced with the same and an equivalent model with a £200 profit.
Nominally two TVs, functionally one TV and one monitor. I was happy with my 19″ Cathode Ray Tube monitor for years after everyone else had moved on to widescreen, and might have been for years more if I hadn’t reviewed Mirror’s Edge for PC Format. Despicably, it letterboxes the viewing area on non-widescreen displays, so I had to at least try it widescreen for the sake of the review. The only one I had was my cheap (£270) yet suspiciously good 32″ LCD TV, so I hauled it to the bedroom and rigged it up. You could say I never went back, except that I did, and the dismal sight of that gloomy square portal on the digital world is what made me buy a second 32″ TV.
The impulse to buy something called a ‘monitor’ for your PC, rather than making do with a ‘TV’, is a bit of an anachronism. There used to be a difference when both were made out of magic ray guns, but these days it’s just that LCD monitors use a cheap and nasty panel technology, are eight inches smaller, and have feebler colour reproduction than the equivalently priced telly.
I would have happily bought them both back full price, since they were already stupidly cheap, but they’ve since been discontinued. The only way I could get them semi-first-hand was to go for Warranty Replacement units from Dabs. I don’t really know what that means, except £160ish instead of £270 and no remote control. Both appear to be brand new and work perfectly.
Things that look amazing on a star-bright 32″ monitor a foot from your face: Team Fortress 2, Mirror’s Edge, Unreal Tournament 3, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, BioShock.
Replaced with a £160 profit.
These you actually can buy at Comet, but by insisting on the money rather than vouchers to do so, I got to buy them from Play.com for spectacularly less. It wasn’t easy to persuade my insurance company, Direct Line, to give me money rather than Comet funbux, and I had to do so at a time when I really didn’t feel like arguing. So by the time I did, I was determined to fleece them for every penny I could. I bear them a keen and savage ill-will I cannot muster for the guys who took my stuff. Their professions are equally amoral, but my thieves were at least swift and courteous.
Replaced with an improved model and £110 profit.
It was my own stupid fault this got nicked – it was in my shed, which has a frickin’ window, and while the shed was notionally locked the bike was not.
Happily, it was nicked just before Future brought back a cycle-to-work initiative that gets you 40% off a new bike by deducting its cost from your gross pay – a nimble tax dodge. My friend Owen was also looking into getting a bike, which saved me the trouble of re-researching which is the best one to get these days. He’d learnt exactly what I did when I first bought mine: get a Specialized Hardrock Sport. It’s actually been redesigned since I got mine the first time, so my new one uses a lighter alloy and, frankly, looks cooler.
Replaced, upgraded and added to for free.
It turns out that when you’re robbed, the local council here pay not only to replace the broken lock, but replace all the locks in your house with ultra tough high-security deadbolts with five free-spinning cylinders inside that make them impossible to saw through, install new bolts inside the wood of your door so they can’t be kicked in, and upgrade the latch you shouldn’t have been using as a lock in the first place. What the hell, local council? Aren’t you supposed to be lazy, bureaucratic and heartless?
If anyone’s been totting up the numbers, they’ll have spotted I made quite a lot of money from being robbed. It’s not as much as it sounds, after paying three different ‘excesses’ to the insurance pricks for the crime of being victimised in three different ways, but certainly a net positive.
Usually the real cost is that your life is just a bit rubbish for a while as you go through the hassle of replacing all this stuff. But one person in particular was very nice to me when I lost all this, and she’s continued to be nicer to me since than I really seem to warrant. So instead, the last two months have been the best in years.
I give this burglary nine out of ten.