The Inquirer-Home

Nvidia offers low-end laptops as replacements for Bumpgate victims

Cries of bait and switch ring out
Tue May 03 2011, 16:20

CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia has managed to get away with giving Compaq CQ-56 laptops as replacements to those bumpgate victims involved in the class action lawsuit against it.

Last year Nvidia came to a settlement in which it agreed that it would repair or replace computers that were affected by bumpgate, where some of its GPUs overheated and failed due to semiconductor packaging defects.

However, later the firm found that it was unable to repair some of the machines. In those cases it offered a replacement laptop, but not any laptop, a gleaming Compaq CQ-56 for each of those machines it couldn't repair.

Compaq's CQ-56 laptop comes in a number of configurations but high-end it isn't, not by far. One specification of the machine retails at Comet for less than £280.

Not surprisingly some of those involved in the class action settlement complained that Nvidia had essentially pulled the old bait and switch trick on them. Sadly for them, US District Court Judge James Ware overruled their objections, writing that they were "without merit".

Outlining the reasons for his ruling, Judge Ware wrote, "the [Compaq] CQ-56 meets or exceeds nearly all of the specifications of the original computers", adding that "it comes with an advanced operating system, new warranty and other programs". As for missing peripherals, Judge Ware said, "the Court finds that they can be easily and inexpensively added".

Remember that this is the laptop that will be offered to users that may have spent many times more than the cost of a Compaq CA-56. It's not hard to see why those who had shelled out so much might be somewhat upset to end up receiving a low-priced Compaq laptop, even though the judge apparently thinks it "meets or exceeds the specifications of the original computers".

It's a poor show from Nvidia, which could have scored some points if it had offered those affected a decent replacement, perhaps with some games thrown in for good will and to show off the graphics capabilities of the machines. Instead, this whole sad story makes the company look like it is short-changing customers who ended up with its faulty equipment.

If Nvidia had hoped that its legal settlement of the bumpgate fiasco would be the end of the story, its decision not to offer like-for-like replacements could end up costing it further damage to its already bruised reputation. µ


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