Canon Sales 'Support'
Canon Sales 'Support'
by Kurt Keller
Today I spent about one hour on the phone with Canon's Sales Support. They have terrific notebook designs and their new DUO-2000 series sure looks like a hit. The tech guy I am, I wanted to get some more, partly quite specific, info. Concentrating on hardware and OS, besides the Internet, I often use my computers in many unusual ways, and the poor machines have to work hard.
So I took the phone and called Canon. "Good morning. I've got a couple of technical questions about your new DUO-2000 notebook series." Immediately I was given the number of their sales support center.
"Good morning. I've got some technical questions about your DUO-2000 series." The first thing I wanted to know was whether hard disks bigger than the default 1.4 GB were supported. Surprise. I had started with the easiest question, but was on hold for almost 10 minutes. "There's no limit." was the answer. So just to make sure, I asked that this meant the BIOS was capable of handling more than 4095 cylinders, thus drives bigger than 2.1 GB could be used. Many people do not know this, but the 540 MB limit is not the only one. There is another limit at 2.1 GB which a couple of BIOSes impose, because they can't handle cylinder counts over 4095. The words 'BIOS' and 'cylinders' seemed to quite have shocked the person I was talking to. After a short explanation of what I was talking about, I listened to the same music again, for another five minutes. "4096 and more cylinders can be used, but Cannon does not support anything other than the 1.4 GB drive included."
The form factor for the hard disk was the next question. I assumed 2.5 inches, but there are variations on how thick they can be. The first widely used 2.5-inch drives were 19mm, 17mm followed and now it is usually 12mm. And sure you can't fit your old 19mm drives in a slot built for 12mm drives only. Well, the answer to this question came very quickly, only two minutes: 12.5mm.
I was not yet done with the hard disk. I use various OSs and usually have them on separate drives, thus the capability to easily swap drives is quite important for me. Of course, Canon's representative had no idea about how to swap it.
My demand to actually talk to a technician was declined: "Sorry, we do not want to have people talk to our technical staff." Surprise for me, indeed. Well, so I had to plague this poor guy with some more questions. A techie would probably not be so bothered with what I wanted to know, but if it is their policy...
Good luck I know the staff at my main parts and computer supplier. I always get to talk to the people I want to and also can get inside info and documents when necessary.
The model I had seen at T-Zone was, of course, with a Japanese keyboard. But often companies manufacture notebooks for various markets. Switch the keyboard, sometimes the keyboard BIOS and you're done. Also various series actually might share the same keyboard. I'm always working with the Swiss-German keyboard layout activated. European keyboards (even UK English) have one key more than the standard US English. As this is the backslash, it is a major problem not to have this key. But anyway, the Japanese keyboards are not all too well suited for the US or SG layout. On the other hand, using a Japanese OS with a non-Japanese keyboard isn't fun either. For the notebook I'm using as my main machine, I have both US and JP keyboards and just switch them when necessary. Sure, it is possible to use external ones, but I like the possibility to have both.
Not to go into tech again, I started by asking whether the DUO-2000 series was sold in Japan only or also abroad. For the Japanese market was the answer. Not knowing whether I really should believe him or not, I stopped asking more keyboard specific questions.
Some of the other stuff I dropped as well. But there was one more essential thing. What drivers come with the notebook? Drivers for the CD-ROM, built in Ethernet port and display drivers should be included but for which OSs? Phew, I could have asked him the same question in German, he'd probably understand just as much as when I was asking in his language. First it took quite some time for him to understand that a device driver is not a CD-ROM drive or a floppy drive. Trying to explain that OS/2 was an operating system and had nothing to do with the OSR2 pack for Win95 failed altogether. After being on hold for a looooooong time (I guess he went to get some coffee and aspirin), he finally came back and told me that only Win95 was supported, nothing else. Win95 was delivered on CD. Grrrr, hadn't I just told him that at least some of the device drivers should come on floppy. If you have a disk crash and need to reinstall Win95, how do you have your computer recognize the CD-ROM drive without a proper device driver? Two more minutes on hold. The only solution seemed to be to create the utility disks for Win95. Getting any real answers concerning device drivers seemed impossible. Another request to talk to a technician or at least someone who knew about this machine was declined again.
Ok, if no device drivers were available I at least needed to know whether the built in Ethernet port was NE2000 compatible. This would make it usable in some situations at least. After a short while on hold he finally asked for my name and number; it would take some time to find out (maybe he had no clue what NE2000 was?). A couple of hours later I got the answer: not compatible!
Two big disappointments today:
* Not only at Seiyu and other general department stores they don't know what they are selling, but also at certain sales-support centers.
* The Cannon DUO-2000 series has a great design, surely much thought was put into it, but you do take your chances on platforms other than Win95.
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