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Acer disables BIOS for laptops sold through Amazon? (2020) (amazon.com)
369 points by nrjames on July 1, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 224 comments

I purchased one of these computers for my child. It made a loud buzzing noise and turned off last week. I discovered the locked BIOS for myself when I tried to boot from a USB to diagnose the problem. Acer wants $619.99 to diagnose it at their repair center, since it is 2 weeks out of warranty.

In college I sold a lot of laptops for best buy. Acer often had great specs, seemingly solid looking hardware that was clearly influenced by good designs (Apple) and a great price for the specs and features.

All laptops have problems, but Acer was by far the worst - More often then not, the problems stemmed from bad heat management (the most common killer of laptops IME) and quality control that was seemingly laser focused on avoiding problems for exactly as long as the warranty lasted.

PSA: Lenovo has tons of problems w/r/t how they operate as a company, but the thinkpad is far and away the best overall non-mac laptop brand you can readily buy anywhere in the world.

I worked at a repair tech at a local computer shop, already over 10 years ago. Certainly all the tech people were secretly a little bit embarrassed we were selling Acer laptops. I did some sales too, when it was busy and people were needed, and always tried to steer people away from Acer.

For some of their models we had over 50% return rates. Far from all models mind you, but still: it was ridiculous. Many came back after warranty as well with hardware issues related to the casings and hinges. Their warranty service took forever and often we had to send back the machines again because they didn't actually fix the issue (we weren't allowed to repair them ourselves too, we had to use their repair centres; other vendors tended to be more flexible about this, especially if we had a long relationship with them).

But they were cheap. So we sold many.

We didn't usually sell ThinkPads, but we did on special demand. One customer returned theirs for whatever reason (T400 IIRC). We put it in the showroom, and it was there for well over year before we managed to sell it, at quite a loss I might add. We actually had a lot of business customers as we also did office management etc., but people just don't want a €1,000 laptop.

Another aspect is that ThinkPads just don't look good to most people when put next to flashy Asus or Acer laptops. The keyboard is more "wonky" instead of the neat rectangular square; it's clearly better designed instead of the cramped 1cm Shift keys and such, but it doesn't look as good. The more matte display is better for loads of people, but it looks kinda crappy next to a bright Acer in demo mode showing off cool pictures. And the "black box" design doesn't seem to appeal to many people's tastes (although personally, I always felt it looked quite handsome; I miss the blue Enter keys btw, I always thought they added something).

Oh, and gosh, don't get me started on the Acer "laptop" they put out with a desktop Pentium CPU, regular DIMMs, and 3.5" HDD. That was truly an abomination.

About 4 or 5 years ago I was working at one place as a consultant where I’d previously been an employee. Being a consultant I provided my own hardware. I needed really beefy hardware for the project, so I bought a brand new Thinkpad P50, completely maxed out.

One day the IT guy was making the rounds distributing new laptops. I got to chatting with him about the new hardware and he said something like “yeah, these are great compared to that old thing, 8 GB, dual core, 256 GB SSD… blah blah…”, while pointing to my brand new Thinkpad. I started telling him the specs on my Thinkpad (which are still good today, but were especially good then) — quad core i7, 64 GB RAM, RAID striped dual M.2 SSDs, … he just said something like “Oh” and walked away without continuing the conversation. Haha…

> when put next to flashy Asus or Acer laptops

Speaking of Asus, I've had no end of issues with the Asus laptop I've been using for the last 3-4 years. Decent spec for the money, but:

* audio output no longer detects external devices

* I've had to replace the display twice due to it flickering/losing part of the image

* multiple keys (~10) fell off the keyboard[1]

* bottom case cracked when I lifted the laptop (plastic appears to have gone brittle over time)

* drive/RAM access cover is held on with electrical tape, as it's broken away from the screw that should hold it in place

* charger cable insulation broke where it meets the DC Jack; replacement charger is starting to do the same

* trackpad occasionally isn't recognised from a cold boot

* USB3 ports are flakey - the slightest nudge can cause devices to disconnect (tried with multiple devices/cables, and they're all fine on other machines)

* keyboard sometimes locks into repeating the last key until I disconnect a USB device or change my keyboard layout with the mouse (probably a software issue, but I haven't managed to track it down)

Combining the repairs (display, bottom case, keyboard, charger) with some upgrades (SSD, HDD, RAM, WiFi card), it's a real ship of Theseus at this point. There's not _that_ much of the original machine left. This is my first Asus machine, and I really can't say I recommend it.

[1] And I didn't notice until after I'd ordered the replacement keyboard that it's not really designed to be replaced without replacing the top case (it fits between the top case and a metal shield, and they're heat staked together), so that was an interesting repair

At the time ASUS tended to be my go-to recommendation: fairly good price/quality balance, good repair service, reasonable failure rates.

At the time needs stressing, because this is a long time ago and I haven't kept up since.

One thing I will say is that every brand can have issues. There can be a particular model that's problematic (see the exploding Samsung Galaxy Notes phone of a few years ago for a famous example), or you can just be unlucky with a particular production series that has issues.

I suspect the blue enter key is trademarked by ibm and was not part of the deal

Yeah, I had similar thoughts; it is Big Blue after all. Although the 25-year anniversary they put out a few years ago had the blue enter, but perhaps that was a special one-time deal they managed to strike with IBM (good advertising for IBM too, after all).

My own Lenovo T420 has a blue enter key.

> ThinkPads just don't look good to most people when put next to flashy Asus or Acer laptops.

But they're simple, elegant, and more practical than Apple.

Completely agree, but from my experience it also just doesn't seem to appeal to a lot of people.

> casings and hinges

this was exactly my experience. Bought an Acer in high school; it was cheap and did the job for me. But after a year both hinges were damaged to the point that the display was tilted. After two years the laptop split in half.

I just bought a Thinkpad (my 3rd in a decade) and there's one big problem with it - the fan runs while the computer is asleep. From what I could find this is due to Windows' modern sleep (or connected sleep) which means the computer is still basically on, just in a lower power mode. Super annoying to hear the shhhhhhhhhh coming from the machine 24-7. To get rid of it, you basically have to turn off the fast boot option and power completely down rather than put the machine to sleep.

It's surprising that the thermal design can't passively cool the CPU while in this sleep mode. It feels like a design flaw.

I have been using hibernate for the last few years for all the laptops. With 'faster' start times this seems to be a better option than sleep. Plus, less risk of inadvertent awakening.

For my personal laptop, I still use a 1st Gen Thinkpad X1 from 2011, running Linux and it's going strong.

Think the fan power management is the only downfall for these devices, mine either runs way too hot or at full blast (which was a turbo mode) back when there was still support for the drivers (some old windows version think 7).

Yes, thinkpads fan control suuuucks. My fan would run 100% of the time, even when just doing light browsing. Had to do a bunch of messing with windows power settings to get it manageable.

I've never had the fans actually run while sleeping though, thats really bad.

this is very emotional. really depends on cpu. Newer ones (like i7-8XXXu in my X1 Carbon 7th gen) are quiet.

I get two Lenovo ThinkPads from work, and have two personal HP Spectres, along with one Gateway (2020, not Acer) and ThinkPad (both low end).

I love the 2020 HP Spectre hardware-wise (better than my work ThinkPads), but sometimes forced NVMe RAID gets annoying with FreeBSD when Lenovo and Asus let you disable it. At least it's not Acer with forced Secure Boot. Yes, I'll take a Mac over an Acer, and I work at Microsoft (but not Windows).

One of the work ThinkPads I get has a locked BIOS, the other (that I normally use for work) doesn't. But I won't use a ThinkPad as my main personal laptop unless FreeBSD only works on one and nothing else.

The dell xps 13 is a fantastic alternative to the thinkpad. It can come with Ubuntu preloaded and fully configured, something that was a major plus for me.

I have an XPS 13 for work and I mostly like it, but I don't think that after having used it for a while, I'd buy one as a personal laptop.

Like the new MacBooks, it's a donglebook and it has basically no ventilation. I'd much rather get a T-series or a non-X1 X-series at this point. I don't think Dell currently offers any Linux laptops with that form factor, but I"d be willing to try them

Thanks for the term “donglebook”. I have an XPS 13 and I will definitely use that in the future.

It’s not a big deal for me since I just share the same dock between it and my work macbook, but I do wish it had more than two ports, for redundancy’s sake.

Agree on the XPS line, they have been largely very good for me. The reason I recommend Lenovo over Dell is because Lenovo has been more consistent for me over the years, but that’s mostly anecdotal of course.

Frankly - and please don't punish me for what I'm about to write - I'm shocked by the endless litany of absurd issues with this Lenovo Thinkpad T14s I just bought.

For some reason the W10 kernel chokes when handling network streams, huge load on the CPU0 core and barely nothing on the other. I'm also constantly thrown off by the inconsistent and sometimes roughly cut UI.

Booting into Linux is a litany of horrors: desktop fractional scaling is blurry, Gnome 40 won't properly handle the alternatives to NetworkManager or PulseAudio which I had to install when WiFi or audio suddenly stopped working for unknown reasons. KDE is cute, but will crash spectacularly taking down the whole session. Tried Ubuntu and Fedora, Same.

I'm a software developer so I can deal with quite a fair amount of tinkering and tuning but frankly I don't have time to learn and debug multiple implementations of entire OS subsystems in order to pick the less unstable one and meticulously integrate it with the rest.

I regret straying off the Apple path, and counting the days the new "M2" (or whatever it will be called) is announced.


I have a 2016 Acer Predator I use for work. I replaced the thermal compound with liquid metal. Dropped the temps 25c and I have had no issue with it, it is on generation behind being able to run Windows 11 but still.

My current laptop is is an Acer Aspire 3 a315-41, and I've had some significant issues with it.

Firstly, there are nice access hatches for the 2.5" slot and the DIMMs, but not for some reason for the M.2 slot. Minor nitpicking, but why make nice access hatches for two items out of three?

Secondly, it does not support NVMe, only SATA drives. Not a huge deal, they are of course not required to support NVMe, but why? It seems to me like they're only saving some wiring going to the CPU. And the firmware menu contains references to NVMe, which led me to believe it did support it.

Third, there were some some issues with Linux on it. Half the time you booted into Linux, the trackpad wouldn't work, and you needed to reboot to get it working. A bigger issue though was that sometimes when you suspended the laptop, it would instead just hang and hard reboot. It took like a year before these issues went away I think. These can be excused I suppose, it's designed for Windows, so it can't be expected to work flawlessly with Linux right away, but it does mean I won't consider Acer for a Linux laptop in the future.

Recently, AMDGPU sometimes hangs when it resumes from suspend, forcing you to reboot. Though this is probably not an Acer issue.

It also seems like the battery stops reporting charge level until you reboot it. I think this happens under Windows too. At least this happens very rarely, but it's one more thing.

But by far the biggest issue though, and the thing that means I will never get another Acer computer, regardless of OS, was when they released a Firmware update for it that caused it to bootloop if you started it without the charger connected (https://community.acer.com/en/discussion/599232/a315-41g-1-1...). As in, you started it, and after a few seconds it would hard reboot, over and over. You could start it with the charger connected and then disconnect it, and it would work fine (until you suspended and resumed, at which point it would hard reboot after a few seconds). And this wasn't a Linux issue, it happened regardless of OS, and even in the Firmware menu. And there was zero official communication from Acer on this, all we got was some "Acer Community Expert" idiot telling people to uninstall some Windows driver, even though Windows had nothing to do with it, and someone telling you to modify the updater tool to downgrade the Firmware. And it somehow took them literally months to release a fix for this. So fuck Acer.

I remember repairing Acer computers back around 1994 when I was in High School (like these https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mChPlLDjtqg/WVJVkMm33rI/AAAAAAAAA... )

They were So bad... I remember they had "clips" instead of screws to remove the case.

I just use the Best Buy warranty. I always buy it and haven't paid for a laptop since the one I went to university with. I just buy the warranty again. On my fourth laptop now.

Interesting way to work the system of crappy hardware. They just keep breaking and you just keep getting replacements eh?

Pretty much. They have lasted between 1 and 2.5 years. I can usually negotiate something slightly better each time as well. Hardware works fine until something goes wrong and I drop it off a Geek Squad, use one of my other computers for a week, and then go select a replacement.

It also covers charger replacements and accidental damage, so if your charger frays, they replace it (a big issue with Acer and Asus). I grant that the Geek Squad people aren't great at fixing things, but replacing? Excellent.

We bought our son a consumer HP laptop. Its BIOS isn't locked, but has few settings exposed. HP intentionally cripples its consumer laptop BIOS to hide most of the settings. I can't get WoWLAN to work and wonder if the BIOS settings are why but there are no WoL settings exposed in the BIOS.

There used to be a hidden key sequence to reveal an "Advanced" menu. It changed a few times. But on the more recent versions, there is no "Advanced" menu any more, it is removed completely. (They use InsydeH20 BIOS; you can find some reverse engineering tool to decode its menu structure – I heard rumours on forums the hidden menu was completely removed, the tool confirmed it.)

May still be possible to inspect and change some undocumented settings with some more in-depth BIOS hacking. But I'm scared I'm going to brick the computer by doing that. I gave up. I guess next time I buy a computer I'll keep this in mind.

Holy shit. I never had a good experience with acer but now i will never be buying one again.

I'm a long term IBM/Lenovo T/X series user with a side of yoga. Lots to like but plenty of problems too. Overall better than a cheaper brand like Acer from what I could see from my friends devices.

But there have been some low points. Dodgey motherboards on multiple generations of T series laptops, Superfish and whitelisted wifi cards on the yoga, and generally poor quality screens for a variety of reasons gives one pause before buying the next one.

For the first time in a couple of decades I've taken the risk and branched out to the Acer Spin 5. I am pleasantly surprised. Not perfect either but not nearly as cheap as I had feard. A Bios update was essential for it to be functional. But that was true of some models in the T series in the past.

I’ve been out of the Windows/PC scene for a decade, but even in the 2000s, I was under the impression that Acer was a choice to sacrifice quality for a lower price.

Some years ago I had an acer laptop with a discrete video card that would get so hot it would start having graphical errors. I installed bios updates, made sure the intakes weren't blocked, reinstalled drivers, reformatted the machine, etc etc. I spent days and days trying to solve the issue myself.

I sent it into acer (under warranty!) because i couldn't play any games on it for longer than half an hour. They sent it back to me saying they couldn't find anything wrong with it. The laptop would still crash within 30-45 minutes of playing a game.

Whenever people ask me to recommend computers or computer accessories, I never recommend acer. I've never bought another acer product since and I have never been dissatisfied with that decision.

Back in late '00 I had a top of the line Acer. Two years of warranty. A week after the warranty ended the display lost 50% of its brightness, a day later the trackpad died and in a couple of days later speakers went kaput. Was rock solid while on warranty.

> He explained that all computer vendors do this to one extent to another, such as Apple with iPhones, and refused to provide me any means to unlock it no matter how technical I am.

I bought a Razer Blade 15 two weeks ago during Amazon sales - once arrived I opened it and upgraded the SSD from 256GBytes to 1TBytes without any issue, and it works really good on Arch...

So, Acer, not all computer vendors are doing this shit.

Just throwing in a surprising second vote of support for Razer's laptop line. I've never owned a laptop that didn't have a ton of quirks, and my Razer Blade Stealth isn't an exception - but even given that, it's one of the best laptops I've ever owned. It looks beautiful, it's light, battery lasts a really long time, it handles any game I throw at it at 1080p with reasonable framerates, so I can game while traveling.

The biggest issue I've had with it was actually with the charger - the USB C port on the charger snapped off after just a few months of reasonable use. Razer replaced it for free, but that's when I learned that any charger less than 100watts results in the battery draining under load when plugged in. The build quality of the laptop itself, though, is excellent.

I've done BIOS updates, etc., and have had no issues.

Razer's computers are expertly designed to die right when the warranty expires.

The machines look and run great, but they don't last. Mine's a paperweight unless I find a replacement motherboard, or send it in to Razer to get it fixed for ~$300.

Fuck that though. A Thinkpad is a better investment.

You don't want to spend $300 to repair a $2000 laptop?

I'm still irritated that I have to spend more than $300 to buy a new laptop. It's a constant struggle to balance old man syndrome with reasonable sticker outrage.

Nope. Why spend money on something that's most likely going to fail again? Those $300 will be better spent on a new laptop from a more reliable company.

Also, I didn't lose $2000, I bought a $2000 life lesson: never buy Razer products.

In fairness, a laptop only has a useful lifespan of 3-5 years anyway. The more questionable thing is spending $2k on a laptop in the first place.

The Blade Stealth ran me $1300, which I thought was reasonable for what I was getting. I don't expect it to last more than a few years, though.

> In fairness, a laptop only has a useful lifespan of 3-5 years anyway

My immortal army of Thinkpads disagrees with you.

The keyword is useful - and for my workload, which in fairness probably isn't yours. I'm intending to play recently released games on my laptop.

You can buy a ThinkPad with a 3080 in it. I think your games would run fine.

I have a 10-year old macbook pro that's still running just fine.

$300 is a goot price for motherboard repair. Razers have few signature failure modes, some have troubling caps, others use weak mosfets. You need to be able to diagnose, what parts to buy and where, know how to microsolder, and own >$300 in equipment.

Check back in three years and we'll see if I have the same experience. Here's hoping not!

Yes. They are impressive. But. They don't seem to last. As someone else mentioned, not long after warranty the motherboard quit working. Looking online there seems to be hundreds with that problem. I suspect from overheating. I think they all have heating issues- perhaps to keep them quieter? I don't recommend then anymore. Search razer won't boot.

I think they have heating problems because they are pushing the limits of what can be done in their form factor: They get extremely hot under load because they're small and the fans are on the bottom, so there's a good chance they're blocked and will overheat. I have experienced this myself.

It will be interesting to see what happens in a few years of use. I wouldn't be shocked if it died - but if it did, I still might get another one. I already replace my laptop every ~3 years anyway, and the benefits it provides in terms of form factor and capability are substantial.

I have a Dell 5401 for work, same story with USB-C charging. Its power brick is 90W but the USB-C block I have can only do 60W max per port. Windows will whine about a "slow USB charger connected" but other than that it works fine for the typical MS Office stuff. It will drain if I really push it though.

I had some issues with the Razer model 4 years ago. The rubber pads on the bottom came unglued from the heat, and I had 2 chargers where the cord frayed from the heat and started sparking. Decided to just stick with a mac for casual use and a desktop for when I want a gpu.

> It looks beautiful

As long as the marketing focuses on the flashy lights I can't bring myself to ever buy Razer anything.

That's the great thing about it. It's a big black piece of CNC'd aluminum. The only lights are on the keyboard and they can be turned off. I don't find it to be flashy at all, apart from the logo being a little overwrought. It's subtle; unless you knew what you were looking for or knew the logo, it looks much like any other highish-budget laptop.

(The Razer Synapse program you use to control the keyboard RGB is annoying, it'd be a good weekend project to replicate its functionality in a free app, but it works for that purpose.)

> The Razer Synapse program you use to control the keyboard RGB is annoying, it'd be a good weekend project to replicate its functionality in a free app

It's already been done: https://openrgb.org/

Much love for openRGB! Made my old ROG laptop so much fun! Having specific keys light up specific colors.

Yet another case where the vendor specific software was complete garbage, but FOSS to the rescue.

I also remember being able to make my PS4 controller LED change brightness and colors/shades/blinking, etc on release, and I don't think you can do that on a PS4 to this day.

Awesome. Thank you!

Wow, 100W seems very underpowered as a charger for a gaming laptop. USB-C really isn't a good choice in this case.

FYI, USB-C 2.1 can charge at 240W.

I really prefer the simplicity of not having to drag around a laptop brick, and love the simplicity of having one cable to carry all the signals I need (USB, DisplayPort, Power, etc.)

2.1 appears to have been released less than 2 months ago. So it might eventually mean USB-C is viable to keep up with higher performance laptops, it can't do it yet.

Even then it's not enough for some top-end laptops. Alienware laptops with a 3080 use 330W

To add to my comment, top end laptops w/ an RTX 3080 use up to 330W. Also USB-C 2.1 w/ 240W isn't actually in any laptop I can find: it's less than 2 months old.

Yeah, this is pre-2.1 (as another commenter mentioned). It makes sense when you think about the hardware though - because it uses a laptop i7 and a Max-Q video card, even when gaming about 100W works OK. See https://www.kitguru.net/lifestyle/mobile/laptops/andrew-munr...

Looks like 2.1 is too new to actually be in any production hardware-- less than 2 months old.

Gaming might be fine in some laptops, but clearly not in the one for this article. Top-end laptops like an Alienware w/ 3080 use a 330W adapter. 100W USB-C is never going to keep that thing from running down the battery.

Can a notebook chassis actually dissipate more than 100W without burning your hands?

I bought MSI GP66 Leopard with RTX3070 (90W TDP with spikes up to 170W) for my nephew this year. It has 230W PSU, but it usable and not too hot even under heavy load as long as it standing on table.

It has two fans that in turbo mode can keep GPU it under 70C even at 100% load. But yeah it's bulky almost 3KG workstation.

Oh and at max fan speed it as loud as modern vacuum cleaner, but people play in headphones most of the time. So yeah you can have laptop with high TDP, but it's gonna be bulky and loud.

When it's at full heat, I can't touch the laptop directly... but that only happens if the fans are blocked.

Worth mentioning that RAM can be upgraded on the Razer Blade 15. I also have one and have upgraded SSD and RAM.

Sadly the new AMD version (Blade 14) has the RAM soldered on. I'm not sure why. I hope Razer isn't backsliding here.

my T490s has soldered RAM as well. It's beginning to look like vendors are doing this to force higher tier purchases or to reduce longevity of the devices.

Give them time - Apple (and other smartphone makers) have shown how profitable it is to lock down a system and make it unrepairable. Once even more custom ARM processors appear on laptops and desktops, we can forget about the kind of "open" hardware and software we have been used to so far.

Before we all grab our pitchforks, maybe we should take a moment and realize that this is a single review on Amazon that's lacking in important details. The headline here reads "Acer disables BIOS for laptops sold through Amazon", but the review mentions that they're able to get into the BIOS. They're only unable to change the boot order, which is a lot different from "disables BIOS". Furthermore, I don't entirely understand why the reviewer tried to get a refund from Acer when they purchased it from Amazon. I bet there's a non-nefarious explanation for the disabled setting that the reviewer saw. Sadly with a $1,530 cost, I don't expect anyone here to buy the laptop just for research purposes!

> I bet there's a non-nefarious explanation for the disabled setting [..]

Citation needed?

There was once a time when you purchased a product you owned it, and were allowed to do devious stuff like "Change The Boot Order".

Apparently that's now out of bounds.

I despair.

> Citation needed?

Op is making a bet not a claim.

I'll take that bet. Unfortunately we'd never agree when it's settled.

A better bet would be to provide a non-nefarious answer as to why this isn't part of the product description.

Another commenter has confirmed this. Grab pitchforks.

Or an attorney.

I’m the OP. I can get into the BIOS, set passwords, etc, but the options to turn off Secure Boot are disabled and it is impossible to add anything to the boot order other than the drive that ships with the machine. Acer likely are the only folks who can flash/change that.

Have you considered paying them to unlock it and then doing a chargeback?

I might do that but also might be able to use a credit card extended warranty perk to have it fixed or replaced.

> They're only unable to change the boot order

According to the review, they are also unable to turn off Secure Boot and UEFI.

Many new computers don't let you turn off Secure Boot but do let you delete all the keys... which then sets the machine in a mode where any OS can be loaded

Do you think the review is false or misleading or do you just think it might be? For a $1500 product often you will have to make purchasing decisions based off just one review.

Amazon reviews are gamed in such a manner that its difficult to trust them anymore.


There was a time when people would make trustworthy Amazon reviews, but... one bad apple spoils the bunch. If I don't know if the review I'm reading is manipulated crap, then I need to go elsewhere.


For better or worse, "Best Buy" and "Walmart" have solid non-comingled supply chains. There's also the option of buying directly from some manufacturers (although I've had bad luck with say... HP from their website. So I prefer having a trusted 3rd party retailer to handle returns in the worst-case scenario. Best Buy handles returns fine, and I trust that an 'HP' laptop is indeed from HP from them. Good enough for me).

I also live near a Microcenter, which would be my primary computer store. But Best Buy isn't bad for prefab and/or laptops, I take my friends there to check out some merchandise when they're looking for new laptops.

I've earned hundreds in Amazon gift cards by just doing as instructed on the review cards that come with parcels. Trust not one word in the reviews, particularly the ones with videos or pictures.

Why do you buy all those junk products with fake reviews?

I bought the computer and had the same problem.

Sorry, after what happened with Apple and iOS I'm unwilling to trust that hardware manufacturers ever do things like this in good faith.

What happened with Apple and iOS?

See "Epic v. Apple"

[removed] - The original headline or comments I read as Amazon locks bios of Acer laptops sold through Amazon. Clearly incorrect!

Four problems with your post:

First, Acer (the manufacturer) is doing it, not Amazon.

Second, it does appear to be systematic.

Third, refund policy is irrelevant and implies (falsely) that the issue is simply a consumer choice problem.

Fourth, you ignore what is troubling: it represents the loss of general purpose computing devices as a product category, even in that last bastion of "freedom", the personal computer. Acer is a major manufacturer, and this shift is ominous.

> The idea that Amazon would even spend the time specially configuring a laptop to lock the boot order?

That's not what's claimed?

Read the review again.

>but was told that Acer locks the BIOS on all computers shipped through Amazon in order to "protect" customers from changing things that might break the computer if they don't know what they're doing.

That doesn't make any sense. Why would you lock it because it was sold through Amazon?

Is it accessible if you buy it direct from Acer?

Sounds like a customer support person just made up a reason.

Perhaps it’s a workaround for Amazon’s commingled-stock problem. Third party can’t override Secure Boot to install a root kit and then return the laptop in a way that ends up with it commingled with “new” stock, if third parties can’t write to CMOS memory in the first place.

(Of course, they could still install a “hard mod” root kit by e.g. reflashing the BIOS through its JTAG pins, or just desoldering it and soldering on something else. But that requires a much higher tier of resources, one that also enables other classes of attacks that don’t involve putting the stock back into the first-party warehouse.)

just wondering if its legal to sell returned products as new. I thought they were sold as refurbished/second chance with a discount.

Even if it is illegal, lots of sellers on Amazon break the law... and since they co-mingle inventory from different sellers, one bad seller trying to pass off returns as new could contaminate every seller's products.

This looks plausible. Also swap and return fraud can be blocked by this restriction.

Amazon has a large problem with fraudulent parts and co-mingled stock and customers returning swapped parts and not checking.

Could be protection against that?

Sounds plausible, I'm voting for that explanation. Would be easier if Amazon was transparent about the real reason instead of giving a PR reason

In fairness, this is not Amazon support.

And Acer can't realistically say that Amazon is full of crooks/Amazon can't manage stuff.

Why not? If Amazon is facilitating fraud and computer crime by cutting corners on stock management, they should be called out for it by the companies impacted by it.

> Sounds like a customer support person just made up a reason.

This happens a lot, I find. People just hate having no answer for you. So they make up one.

Having worked tech support, I can provide an alternative explanation:

Customers hate not having a reason, and many techs will simply make one up rather than be yelled at again for not knowing.

What customers hate is tier 1 support acting as a brick wall between them and the people with the solution to their problem. Or at least that's how they perceive it.

While I don't shout at tech support, as I know what the script is, you better believe my blood is quietly boiling as I'm rebooting various devices that have nothing to do with the issue on their instruction, just so I can get to an appointment with technicians to fix my real issue.

Same thing occurs with GP doctors, and basically every other system in tiers, where it inevitably organizes to basically stall you, so people don't overload the higher tiers.

That's a different issue, though. We have problems that literally nobody knew the reason for, and they required formatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows to fix. They did eventually figure things out, but it was over a year later, IIRC.

In the mean time, the techs would get yelled at for not knowing what was happening. I wasn't surprised when they invented reasons... And they may even have believed them.

As for the rebooting... I've seen too many weird things to deny them the reboots. And a few times it has actually fixed my problem, even though I believed it impossible. (And had the same happen to customers I was supporting.) So I know it's frustrating, but it's necessary in a surprising number of cases.

Also, techs were often the worst customers. They thought they knew everything, even if it was just Dunning-Kruger. Forcing them to reboot was painful, but actually worked more often than non-techs because the non-techs would blindly try things like that after having been told it once in the past. There were plenty of times I fell back on the "I can't send this up until you reboot it" because I knew there was a good chance the reboot would actually work if the customer tried to avoid it.

Agreed, customer service folks feel like they need to give an answer (totally understandable) and ... customer service isn't given many tools so they just make do with what they think might be true.

There are a lot of YouTube videos of people going into the BIOS on this same laptop, but acquired elsewhere. From what I can tell, it’s only the Amazon ones that have the BIOS locked.

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