Saturday, April 5, 2008

New lappy (again)...

I ended up getting a Dell Vostro 1500 to replace my problematic MacBook Pro. I had my choices of replacement laptops narrowed down to the Dell Vostro line or the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 or R61 but Dell just happened to be running a HUGE $500 off promotion on the Vostro if you optioned it up from the base configuration to over $1,299 before the discount. So I build a computer with the specs that I wanted:

Windows XP Pro
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100
2 GB RAM (very easily upgraded someday)
NVidia 8600GT 256MB Video RAM
120 GB 5400RPM HDD (also, very easily upgraded someday)
15.4" Matte Display
Intel Wireless N

My first thoughts on the Dell are that it's definitely bigger, slightly heavier and much less sleek looking than the Apple. However, it is much quieter and the performance seems to be very good so far.

I've also noticed that it runs nowhere near as hot as the MacBook Pro did. I haven't done any really "heavy lifting" with it yet but I'll be sure to report back on my future experiences if I notice anything funky. So far, though, it's more of a "laptop" than the MacBook Pro was.

I've said before that I prefer Apple's OS X to Windows but XP Pro is kind of like an old friend. I've been using XP for so many years at work, occasionally at home and on friend's computers that I have grown accustomed to it's quirks, weaknesses and strengths and I know what to expect. XP might not be the best looking or most solid OS ever... but it seems to get the job done. Plus I already have a lot of XP compatible software that I never re-bought for OS X.

The speakers sound pretty good. The display quality is good. The resolution is slightly lower than on the MacBook Pro (1280 x 800 compared to 1440 x 900) but for what I'm going to be using the computer for (basic internet surfing, big spreadsheets and occasional games) it's going to be fine. If I need some more screen "real estate", I could always hook it up to my 20" Dell widescreen monitor that I have my PowerMac G4 and the Rosetta running Dell on now.

The keyboard feels nice and solid and is comfortable to type on. I did like the backlit keyboard of the MacBook Pro but I can't say that I actually ever used it, so I don't think I'll really miss it that much. The front edge of the laptop is rounded so it's not so harsh on my wrists. The trackpad is responsive and the scroll areas at the bottom and side of the trackpad seem to work pretty well.

The build quality seems good. I haven't noticed any flexing or creaking sounds anywhere and I'm able to pick it up one handed from the corner without feeling any flex.

But... the best part of all is that the Dell was about $870 including DHL shipping, tax and the $500 off offer. I went to pick it up today at the DHL location by me because I was too impatient to wait until Monday for it to be delivered. Anyway, $870 compared to about $2,150 for the MacBook Pro for very similar specs seems like a hell of a deal so far. I'm not sure I would have picked this laptop if it was over $1,300 (at "regular" price) but for the $870 it seems pretty much unbeatable.

So, the bottom line is: If the Dell proves to be not as problematic as the MacBook Pro it's a HUGE win. However, even if I do have the occasional minor issue with it or gripe about it, I still saved a TON of money for very a very similarly spec'd machine. I'd still grant it a slightly less (but still HUGE) win over the MacBook Pro.

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