|It made ME laugh
Here's my two cents on the matter. As I type this now, I am currently sitting in a lounge with my little Area-51m. I've had some issues with it, but to be honest, it's nothing more than what I have seen with ANY other laptop I have ever had to use.
There are some issues that I have with the company. And I've found ways around them. The first thing that I'd recommend is to become fast friends with one of the customer reps. Even if you order online (which is usually how one gets the best price), it's worth it to have a rep in your pocket in case you have any problems or need to change your order. I made some last minute changes to my system, and I know that if I wasn't on such good terms with the rep that it might not have made it in time.
Customer Support: Get to know the forums. They're usually your best friend in the beginning. I say this because most of the initial tech support from AW is outsourced to Costa Rica. While this may cut down costs, it also reduced the level of expertise one finds when making a tech call. The forums usually offer a solution within 24 hours or less (so long as the moderator posts your thread in a timely manner) and you get the opportunity to hear solutions from the users as well (many of whom know just as much, if not more as the techs on the forums). If all else fails, request that you speak with a tech in Miami, especially if your initial experience with tech support doesn't solve your problems.
Another issue I have is the fact that they are quite slow at releasing new product. By that I mean that they took two months longer than anyone else to release things that anyone else for things like PC3200 RAM and the ATI Mobility 9600 and 9600 PRO. Stuff like that just kinda irritates me.
As for the laptop itself, I only have one or two gripes about it. I wished that they had waitied for an update to their BIOS before releasing the thing. I say this because some, and I only mean a few, people had some problems when booting up the lappy in safe mode. I don't know just what the issue was, but for some reason, the mup.sys file seemed to hang on them. About a week after this issue was first reported, the BIOS update came out, and it seems to have fixed the issue (I wasn't affected, so I never looked into it myself).
The other gripe I have is with the mini-PCI WiFi card that they offered with the system. The first one was an A/B card. This thing caused some feedback/distortion with the speakers for a lot of people, and so AW stopped using them. The newer card, an A/B/G from Atheros (which is what I have) seems to have a really poor range. I've heard more than a few complaints about this, but I've also heard a bunch of people say that they've had no problem. Aw's solution? Contact them, and they'll replace the card. I'm not so sure that this is the right approach, since nobody seems to know why this thing has such bad range (even for a mini-PCI card), so replacing it just doesn't seem like such a hot idea to me. I figure that it's best to figure out the specific cause of the problem and then put a definitive end to it.
But kudos to AW for the customer support in replacing the cards. Despite the fact that it's the right thing to do, a good majority of companies would just leave you out to dry in such a situation (*cough* Dell).
While it seems that my complaints are rather long, or at least long-winded, I have to say that so far my experience with AW has not been an altogether unpleasant one. If you don't mind the wait time and can get past the issues I mentioned above (make sure to talk with someone about the internal WiFi... but I recommend getting a good PCMICA card instead) then it's not a bad system. DEFINATLELY get the full warranty... the one year warranty just doesn't cut it (besides, you'll probably own this thing for at least 3)
Just remember though: 25% (or more) of the cost is for the looks and the name. AW products have good performance, but just like a sports car, you're paying for the "oooOOOO" factor.
Okies, I think that I've rambled enough for the day!