Unopened Laptop Question

I was doing some minor install work for a woman who had a desktop. While I was there I noticed a laptop box. Trying to drum up a bit more business, I said, “Oh do you need any help with that?”

She basically explained to me her husband bought the laptop in July 2010 and then he died. She said, she never uses the computer much (the desktop I was adding a hard drive to) and with the death she never got around to opening it. He died right after they got it

It’s a Dell Inspiron straight from Dell.

I can see her not wanting to open it, sometimes when people die, they get funny with possessions of the dead people. Anyway she tells me, that her grandson is graduating from high school in June of 2011 and since it’s never been opened she’s gonna give it to him as a graduation present.

OK so well and and good, then she asked me if there’d be any issues with that?

Assuming it works, (I told her that laptops that don’t work most often show signs they won’t work within 30 days so it’s a good idea to try it…But in any case it’s too late now), once the grandson opens it up, he’ll have to download a bunch of updates to the system. It’s a Win7 Home Premium

So I thought I’d ask, just out of curiosity, what other potential issues could there be? I assume laptops sit around computer stores and such for a long time anyway.

I think it’s best to find out now if it works and let updates install along the way.

Waiting: Nothing good can come from it.

It’s not good to let a lithium battery get completely discharged as it can significantly reduce the life of the battery. It was probably only partially charged when shipped.

I agree that it’s probably a good idea to at least charge the battery. Grandson will easily be able to bring software up to date.

Oh, I guess I should charge up my dad’s laptop then? I’ve been holding it for him since went to India in October. I don’t know why, I don’t think he even knows how to turn it on. Honestly.

I have had the responsibility of repairing and cleaning up computers for people over the years. My motto is to respect their privacy totally. While I like to look at everything, I never reveal anything. One inspection revealed a husband cheating on his wife. The person’s wife and I have been “tight” for decades. Never complain, never explain was what Hank the Deuce said.

I advise having a trusted person, perhaps a stranger, go through that old computer and make sure there is nothing there that is not kid friendly. Clean all the pictures, favorites and .dat files. I could care less about the updates and batteries. Seeing the wrong stuff from a grandparent’s computer could be life altering.

The laptop has never been used, finding unsavoury stuff on it won’t be an issue.

Well the computer is brand new in the box never opened. I didn’t ask questions but it appeared the husband ordered a new computer then died, and his wife didn’t open it.

Which I can understand, how some people may feel funny about that.

My question is purely academic as I installed the hard drive on her desktop but I was just curious.

To be clear: the lady has a brand new Dell laptop ordered and delivered in July of 2010. She plans to give it to her grandkid as a graduation gift in June of 2011, which is an 11 month gap.

I was just wondering about what if any problems this could present. She didn’t hire me to do anything to the laptop, I was just wondering what, if any problems could a gap like that present.

Obviously the O/S will have to be updated a lot and the battery will have to be charged, anything else?

Thanks for the answeres so far

Li-on batteries will degrade over time whether used or unused. Charging it up will not help or prolong the life of the main battery.

IMO the main reason to start it up is that you assumedly have a year warranty which expires 07/2011. You should at least start the system and let it burn in for a week or so to make sure it isn’t going to be DOA when opened. Beyond this there’s really no reason to fiddle with it.

This might be one of the rare circumstances where purchasing an extra year or two of extended warranty coverage might make some sense if the cost is not absurd.

Yes, the main battery will age no matter what, but deep discharge is extra bad.

It’s going to be a year old, and technologically obsolete (and overpriced) by then.

Have her contact Dell, explain the circumstances (purchasers death, unopened box) and ask them to take the laptop back and give you credit. They should do so, though you might have to pay shipping.

Then she can give the credit to her grandson for his graduation present. He can use it to purchase a brand new, up-to-date June 2011 laptop, and prices will have dropped enough that he’ll get a better laptop for the money.

Non-initialized lithium ion & polymer batteries can easily be stored for a year without significant cell degradation. Optimal conditions is a non-humid, dark place, about 25C. I.E., packed inside the box inside a house.

I would not be terribly concerned about the battery.

I highly doubt Dell will take back a 6 month old fully functional laptop. In any case, it’s not a gaming laptop, so it’s not really going to be obsolete a year after it was purchased.

The updates will just be a matter of letting the laptop take a long time to shut down the first few times. It will have the same “Installing updates (1 of 32)…” messages that my desktop did (it was super cheap due to being the last one in store from a six-months-old model). What I did with my desktop was, instead of keeping it on all day, booting it down and back up whenever I went to the store, to cook or whatever: that way it was able to go through the whole list of updates in about a day and a half.

For the battery, something which apparently gives them a longer life is having them cycle occasionally: if you always use the laptop plugged in it eventually forgets it’s supposed to be “portable” and not just “carry-around-able”, making the battery nothing but extra weight (and for some laptops, you can’t even take it out and leave it home, as that triggers a safety system and the laptop won’t boot up with that circuit open). So even if you always use it on a desk, it’s good to unplug the cord for a while now and then. My experience with laptops and other computer-like devices (GPS, handheld consoles…) is that if it wasn’t the one on display its battery is new and uncharged, so I’d assume that’s the case with this particular laptop: since the husband ordered it, it can’t have been the one on display. As IAmNotSpartacus says, a brand-new battery can stay in its plastic bag for a long time just fine thanks.