SirPaul, I had the same reation. I spent way too many hours spent trying to help my aunt fix hers, often after tech support tried to update her anti-virus software, install a RAM/drive upgrade, or other things that should've been foolproof. I wanted to take a sledgehammer to it by the time she finally got another computer.
I definitely don't think a Packard Bell counts as a computer. My friend had so much trouble with his. I got one as a hand me down in the late 90′s and I tricked it out pretty nice. More ram, CPU upgrade, new HD, and new CD burner. It worked for years and the MB never died.
When we had our Packard Bell (our first computer), I accidentally deleted an icon in the program manager (this was on Windows 3.1, obviously). It might have been a startup item, I don't remember. The "geniuses" on tech support had my mother ship it to them for repairs, and it took them about 3 weeks to get it back.. Please note that at the time, I was living about 2 miles from their headquarters here. That is just one of many stories.
Anybody remember the "living room" that shipped with all Packard Bells? It was that interface that was supposed to make navigating Windows faster and easier. I couldn't get that thing off the computer fast enough. I still have a copy of the program… I wonder if it works with Windows 7.
I also had a friend with one of those Packard Bells. Poor guy. I wasn't too much better off with my AT clone, but it was in a big case with lots of expansion slots and drive bays, whereas his Packard Hell was tiny, and was a real pain to get at the internals. And the graphics? CGA, blech!
Worked as a repair tech at Tandy Service/Computer City. They always wanted us to get certified with the various computer makers for whatever reason. The running joke was to get Packard Bell certified all you needed was a pulse and a screwdriver…ahhh early 1990′s tech humour..
I owned one personally, it was fast at the time a pentium 90mhz, purchased in 1994, and while not a very upgradable computer, I used it longer as my main system than any other machine I've ever had. I stopped using it as my main machine in 2000 and started using as a linux box for the next two years, I still have it somewhere. My uncle still uses a packard bell 486 to this day and will not replace it, he uses it daily, and while hes gone through a few keyboards and a few monitors, he has never replaced a single component in it except for upgrading the ram probably 10 years ago. They may have gotten a bad rap, but in my experience aside from being horrible to upgrade, the ones I have encountered had lasted many many years.
On a side note I had a friend back in college a few years back, who was from turkey, and the computer he brought over with him was a Packard Bell P4, apparently they still make computers over seas, or at least some company has bought the rights to the name.
I had a Packard Bell for a number of years. The only problem I had with it was the 40MB hard drive that came with it was put into park mode and was never able to be removed. It was replaced a number of years later and that 286 beast worked. The only thing it needed was the time set as it did not update for leap year and the time change.