Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year, New Computer

Happy New Year everyone.  I wanted to start off the new year with a story about a computer I purchased.


I sold both of my desktop computers last year and swore off buying any more, thinking I would want to stick primarily with laptops.  I still agree with that assertion and have been watching the notebook design wars with interest.  My current notebook, a Dell Inspiron 9300, has been a great computer.  It has a 17” screen, is quite peppy, and still 2.5 years later, the Vista Ultimate ratings for the video blow the doors off the ratings of the best computer for sale in Best  Buy (the Dell has the Nvidia GeForce 6800 dedicated card – I specifically purchased this computer for that card.   Regardless, as great as the large screen has been for work and using the computer at home, it’s not quite as portable as I wanted, and I’ve been specifically contemplating a purchase of a 14” laptop to supplement it.  To give you a breakdown of my computer replacement schedule, I buy a good machine and depreciate it over three years.  Thus, the Dell will be replaced in December 2008.   So it came to my thoughts that I should buy something small that would be compatible with any accessories I buy for the Dell replacement.


My specific requirements were:

1.       Intel Core 2 Duo processor

2.       2 GB + Ram

3.       250 GB Hard drive

4.       DVD Burner

5.       Good battery life

6.       Less than $1000

7.       Light and thin

8.       Ability to be carried without breaking my back in a backpack for long periods of time.


I began looking at computers during the holiday season.  First stop: Dell.  My last three computer purchases have been Dell and I’ve influenced quite a few more among family and friends.  However, I strongly dislike the current design of Dell laptops.  The Inspiron line is bland and bloated.   My Inspiron 9300 looks a lot better than the 1721 that replaced it, even if the 9300 has an obvious miss in lack of a 9-key pad.   The Dell XPS was a nice looking computer, but the 13.3” screen was a tad small for my liking.  Thus, Dell was eliminated from consideration.    That leaves Gateway, HP, and Toshiba as the only other computers I will consider.  Gateway looks cheap, eliminated.  Toshiba looks good but only offers integrated video on the 17” lappys, so it’s eliminated.  Thus only HP is left.  (Apple, for all its pluses, is out of my desired price range).


I bought an HP.   I began to look at HP computers after buying and setting one up for a friend and I was impressed with the build quality and design.  Yes, the HP computer looks great.    The 14.1” laptop has integrated video but I don’t care because I’ll only play games on the big boy.  The HP dv2XXX series met specifications 1-8 above and as a plus, included 3 GB of RAM.  I could get the dv6000 series with 15.4” screens for less than a 14.1” lappy, but it’s too close in size to the Dell so I don’t really gain anything.  I started looking in stores.  Best Buy had a computer of my liking, but it had AMD Turion X2 64 and Nvidia.  The windows experience score was 2.5, a horrible rating on the graphics card.  Combined with lack of Bluetooth, Best Buy’s offerings were eliminated from my choices.    I went to Circuit City.   They had the perfect computer with all the specs I wanted, it had a WEI rating of 3.5.  No problem.  However, the computer was silver and white, big problem.  I specifically wanted something that looked great and black/silver looks are preferred to white/silver, although the Dell is white/silver.  So I checked around and played with the computer for a while to determine if I could live with the colors.  I decided to buy it, and when I get the HP d9000 series 17” laptop at Christmas, I’ll make sure to get that one in black/silver. 


I’m already pleased because I purchased a notebook dock that will work with the dv2000 and dv9000 series.  Power adapters are also compatible.  Sweet,   I’m already happy.  Now let’s hope that HP doesn’t change the dv9000 too much before I can purchase one.     After a complete reformat of the computer to remove the bloatware, I’m real happy with everything and the way it runs.  



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