Neal Racinowski

The Computer Room

Last December, just after moving back to Ithaca, my computer broke. With no warning, it suddenly refused to turn on. As a journalist, my computer is pretty much my lifeblood, so I was predictably distraught. I’d lost my stories for the week! 

My first stop was the chain store at which I’d purchased the computer. They said they could fix it and backup the data … for $450. It would take a few weeks. My second stop—on the recommendation of a long-time Ithacan—was The Computer Room. They fixed it on the spot for $75. Moral of the story? Listen to the locals.

If you’re new in town, finding the right gadget fix-it place can be tricky, but here’s a run-down of just a few of the options out there. 

The Computer Room: The aforementioned Computer Room is located at 610 W. State St., next to Maxie’s Supper Club. The store has been around in one form or another since the early ‘90s, but it’s been on State Street for about a decade now. Though the storeowner is Ben Heller, typically if you stop by for a repair you’ll find Neal Racinowski behind the desk. While Heller primarily deals with network infrastructure and wiring jobs, Racinowski does a lot of the day-to-day repairs. “We do pretty much anything computer-related,” Racinowski said. “We don’t work on tablets or phones at this point, but laptops, desktops, small business networks, network wiring, general small-business support and the average Joe who walks in off the street.” Normally, The Computer Room estimates three to five days for repairs, but some problems can just be fixed on the spot. 

The Computing Center: The Computing Center, located on Thornwood Drive near the airport, is the fix-it place for the Cornell Store. Thus, if you’re on campus and take your computer in for repairs, it’ll get shipped over to The Computing Center. The company has been in business since the late 1970s, when Larry and Joe Baum began a computerized billing company out of their mother’s Willow Avenue home. Now, the company is no longer in Mom’s basement and the focus is on repairing computers and printers as well as providing servers for businesses. They’re an authorized warranty repair center for Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Xerox. Estimated turnaround times are usually two to seven days. 

Gadget Repair Pro: Located on Elmira Road, Gadget Repair Pro is a new addition to the fix-it market in Ithaca. Brandon Galbreath just opened the business on April 18. Although their main focus is cell phones and tablets, Gadget Repair Pro also fixes computers. Because they have a large inventory of replacement parts, they boast a quick turnaround time. Nick Cascioli, a repair technician and the store manager, said that computers are usually fixed within “several” hours and cell phones usually within a couple hours. “And,” he said, “we’re also one of the only places in town that does a 90-day warranty. We get a warranty for parts from our suppliers, so we extend it to customers.” 

iDevice Ithaca: In explaining the company’s strengths, Glenn Smith, who founded iDevice Ithaca in 2008, said, “We are a certified Apple developer, so typically our forte is Apple products, but we fix everything. Literally, we have people come in with electric guitars and lamps and all manner of strangeness.” As a certified developer, Smith’s store develops iOS codes to submit to Apple for use in phones and laptops they release. In terms of product repair, like Gadget Repair Pro, iDevice Ithaca boasts a quick turnaround time. Smith said, “We like to get stuff done the same day whenever possible, but that depends on when the individual brings in the device. For computers, I’d say 24 hours or less. For handheld devices usually less than an hour.” The store is located at 171 E. State St. 

Fennec Fox Tech Repair: Another recent addition to Ithaca is Fennec Fox Tech Repair, on Dryden Road in Collegetown. The store is named for a type of fox common in northern Africa, which is where the store’s owner comes from. Fennec Fox opened just about four months ago, and they do everything from phones to computers, and even tablets. They offer a 90-day guarantee on a lot of their work and are open six days a week. §

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