I have an HP nc4010 laptop at work. It’s a pretty decent machine, although it could do with a smidge more RAM for the sort of beating I tend to put machines through. The one thing that’s unacceptably poor about it is the docking station. Now I don’t know how much you know about docking stations but short order, they’re a little box that you plug your desktop mouse, keyboard and monitor into (basically everything you don’t want to take with you) and then place the laptop into when you’re at your desk. Instead of plugging in 5 or 10 things at a time you have just one.
Now the docking station for the nc4010 is almost farcialy bad. Given that the rest of the machine is fairly well designed with a decent form factor (although a non widescreen flat panel is a bit bizarre) it’s clear this was farmed out to the awkward squad. The docking station is about 2⁄3 wider than the machine itself with the connector jammed over on the left hand side making it lopsided and ugly, as well as asymmetrically difficult to locate the connector when you’re attaching the machine. The wiring on the power socket seems persistently faulty in all the versions we have in the office, insamuch as you have to plug the charger into the machine itself rather than the docking station to get any juice. But the real coup de grace is the power button on the docking station.
As you can see in the photo it’s right on the left hand edge of the station, just in the place I rest my hand to get some leverage whilst swapping a USB cable round the back, such that doing so presses the off button, instantly killing the power and throwing away all your work! Superb stuff HP, make it really easy for the customer to repeat a disastrous mistake with a high pain cost. I did it four times last week until I ran out of patience and got into the hardware hacking business. One handily wedged bit of paper later and that switch is going nowhere. Problem solved!