**A promising start**
Back in November 2008 I was on the lookout for a new desktop PC for use at home. I didn't have a long list of requirements my main one being a machine that would get me online quickly, efficiently and without any fuss. I have had various PCs over the course of my 15 years online and one of my earliest computers that I first bought was a Hewlett Packard which I had been pleased with. So with this in mind and whilst browsing the selection available at PC World I noticed this, the Slimline Pavilion S3541 from HP priced at a reasonable £449.99. Bearing in mind my past positive experience and with the price being roughly in the middle of my budget I bought it, brought it home and set it up.
The first thing about the 3500 series of computers from HP that you can't fail to notice is the size of them. Measuring up at roughly a third of the size of a traditional desktop PC its dimensions appealed to me. It had a 10.7cm width, 35.2cm depth and 27.6cm height and only weighed 8.5 kgs. It had a sleek, black appearance with flashing azure lights which I did find to be quite fancy and as I was looking for a new, smaller desk for at home this computer made my choices of suitable locations perfect and overall I was delighted with my purchase.
Although I'm by no means a computer 'geek' I know that the important things to look for is a decent amount of memory, and the S3541 boasted an impressive 3GB of RAM and a 500GB of hard drive storage, by no means a beast of a machine but perfectly acceptable for what I required. It had an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (that means nothing to me, but I'm sure the more 'techy' of readers will understand) and 3 USB ports which were handily located (2 on the front, 1 at the back). On top of the base unit featured a multi media card reader which allowed me to put my memory card from my digital camera and phone which made photo transference an easy task.
A DVD rewriter was included in the specifications, a graphics card and really everything else that you would expect in a brand new, up-to-date PC. It had Windows Vista already installed and was good to go from the moment it sprung to life when switched on. All was going great for 14 months until one day, back in February this year my computer died. Out of the blue, whilst I was on the internet my computer 'blue screened' and up came a warning that the memory had corrupted. I tried to run system diagnostics to pin point where the problem was but the test failed to run.
"Hmmm" I thought to myself and instinctively I knew that I had a major problem on my hands. I rang PC world asking for help, but as my computer was out of its 12 months warranty they could only suggest that I take it in store to their 'PC hospital' for the tech guys to take a look at. Agreeing that this would be a sensible solution I proposed to book an appointment - 2 weeks later was the earliest it could be seen. Not good.
Instead I took my computer to an independent, well established (and frequently visited) computer stockist who said they would run various tests and try and pinpoint what the actual problem was and so I left it in their capable hands. A couple of days later I received a telephone call advising me that the machine was completely unresponsive and despite trying to identify and replace the corrupted memory it was effectively dead, they could try replacing the mother-board and the memory if I wanted but as the machine was so much smaller than regular desktop PC's then sourcing parts would be difficult, and quite honestly, costly.
I was informed that this was not an isolated case and that they had encountered problems before with other HP slimline machines, the main problem being that as they are so small then they are prone to overheat which then damages the memory. Indeed, Googling "HP blue screen" brings up other examples of this occurring to other people and it would appear that this is a common issue. PC World could offer no assistance; my computer was out of its warranty. I telephoned HP to be told the same so effectively I was left without a computer and had spent almost £450.00 for 14 months usage.
As mentioned earlier, I'm not the most technical person in the world and I realise that this review only briefly mentions what specifications are included in this model, however as a regular, everyday user of a desktop PC I have certain expectations and I don't think I am being unreasonable in expecting a computer to last for more than 14 months before needing a replacement. In the past I have managed to get 3-5 years worth of daily use out of my older, more traditional sized computers and only upgraded for vanity reasons or because they were used so often that they had become sluggish and unresponsive. I thought I was onto a winner with the HP 3541; it looked spectacular, performed effortlessly and met all my requirements but only for a brief time.
This has been my experience with this computer and I do think that maybe I was unlucky; I wouldn't suggest that all the models in this series are going to be the same but can only review what happened to me. As you can imagine this has been a major disappointment not helped with the response I got from both PC World and HP themselves and for all these reasons is why I wouldn't recommend either this or any other computer from Hewlett Packard to anyone anymore.
It has been a huge learning curve for me and an expensive one too, I'm now back to using a traditional sized, custom built PC that may look big and clunky in comparison, but it works. It is functional and reliable and that's all I wanted in the first place.
This has been my honest and own personal account of my experiences with the HP3541 and I'm sure it won't come as any surprise to discover that I would only award it a 1 dooyoo star rating. If any consumers are considering purchasing a 'Pavilion Slimline' with *any* serial number I would strongly recommend that you research them online, specifically referring to 'blue screen issues'
A list of technical specifications can be found on the Hewlett Packard website but for the sake of brevity I wont repeat them all here as they are easily accessible to anyone wanting to see exactly you get for your money if you are considering this as a purchasing option.
**Final Thoughts and a Warning for all...**
Thanks for reading my review; I do hope it has been of use to any potential buyers out there, a computer is a significant purchase to anyone regardless of their budget. My top tip would be to do plenty of research, at least then you are making an informed decision on what to buy, unlike me - I went for what looked good. What an expensive mistake.