Even new PCs can have problems
Recently I splurged on a new laptop, a 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook. Incredibly thin, light, and fast, it overjoyed me from the moment I unpacked it.
It wasn't long, though, before my joy turned to frustration. Although it booted with lightning speed, Internet access seemed slow. In fact, sometimes I couldn't load Web pages at all.
As usual when dealing with a mystery like this, I used the invaluable SpeedTest to help pin down the problem. Sure enough, the Samsung was having intermittent connectivity slowdowns and outages. My router wasn't to blame, and for once neither was Comcast.
But what exactly was going on? Surely a brand new computer—especially one as advanced and expensive as this—could reliably connect to the Internet.
Turns out, no. After some Web searching, I learned that many Samsung Series 9 models suffered from the same intermittent Wi-Fi problems. (I further determined that Wi-Fi was to blame after connecting the system directly to my router via Ethernet. Problem solved.)
So I went to Samsung's support site in search of updated Wi-Fi drivers, but found nothing new: All the drivers dated back to mid-2012. Luckily, someone on a user forum pointed me to new drivers from Intel (makers of the Series 9's Wi-Fi chip), and a quick download, install, and reboot later, I was enjoying blazing broadband once again.
Alas, the story doesn't end there. Soon I began to notice that certain Web sites wouldn't load completely. It was like the browser just gave up halfway. If I refreshed the page, presto, problem solved. But that certainly wasn't a long-term solution.
What the heck? Another connectivity issue? Back to the user forums. You'll never guess the culprit this time: Samsung's Support Center utility (which monitors the system for available updates and whatnot) apparently doesn't get along with Google Chrome, my browser of choice. Other users had encountered this same page-loading oddity; uninstalling Support Center was a potential fix.
Sure enough, that worked. But talk about two vexing hassles! And on a brand-new PC, no less.
By now I'm sure you've sussed out the moral of the story: Even new PCs can have problems. Annoying, yes. Frustrating, definitely. But it's the nature of the high-tech beast. The key is to keep calm and remember that there may be a (reasonably) simple solution.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.