New Laptop Review

Alright so I’ve spent my first week with my new laptop and I figured I’d do a little post just to share my experience with it. Just as a preface, I’ve used every computer OS known to man, and I prefer Mac OS. However, I’m a Web Developer and I’ve been building on Microsoft products for the last 10 years. I decided I needed a laptop for work reasons, and I’m on a serious budget right now. Therefore, a MacBook Pro, though it’s the machine I really wanted, wasn’t the best choice at this time.

The laptop I ended up getting is a Dell Studio 15. For the money, this is a smoking laptop. I bought mine at Best Buy and it’s got a Core 2 Duo CPU, 4gig RAM, 320gig HD, 15.4″ widescreen, firewire, bluetooth, wireless G, you name it… all for $799, which is a real steal. For some reason, the same laptop at Dell was several hundred dollars more… so it pays to shop around.

Hardware wise this is a great laptop. If I had the money I would have went with the LCD screen since this one is not as evenly lit, but the glossy finish is awesome and the clarity is great. One complaint I have is that the keys typed with my left index finger tend to repeat. So I end up typing ff tt rr a lot. I don’t know if it’s my ttouch (see????) or if it’s a keyboard thing. The speakers suck, but then again, all laptop speakers pretty much suck. The webcam, while functional, is really poor quality as well. This is where you separate the Apple’s from the Dell’s. The attention to detail with Mac’s are incredible… but hey, this thing cost me less than half as much as my dream MacBook… so I expect some rough edges. For the money, this is a great piece of hardware. It’s also very nice looking, a prettty clean, modern design, and that’s important to me.

Software wise, I’m also not as disappointed as I thought I would be. The machine came with Windows Vista Home Premium (can we get a longer title please?) and it’s actually good. I had used Vista through Beta and then for about 8 months after release, and I never got used to it. It also ran like crap on my machine at work. On this laptop though, it runs REALLY well! If you’re a Vista user, check out ReadyBoost, very cool. I think part of the reason it runs so well is that I haven’t loaded anything on this machine yet. I basically loaded Office and my development software and that’s it. So it’s almost pristine. I think that SP1 fixed a lot of quirks as well. So my view of Vista has improved a lot since I bailed on it in January.

Of course there’s been a few gotchas. For instance, I could not get my wireless working for the life of me. It took a reconfiguration of my router to get it to connect. Then my machine would not sleep, and a few times when it did sleep, it locked up on wake. That seems to have sorted itself out, I don’t know how or why. I also cannot set Gmail to be my default Mail client, nor can I set Google Reader to be my default RSS reader, both of which I can do on the Mac. Odd. I also HATE Windows installer programs. One of the coolest features of the Mac is being able to just drag and drop programs to install them, and drag them to the trash to uninstall. Vista is prettty though, although I like the clean simplicity of the Mac. But the flashy candy coating in Vista is kind of nice for a change.

All in all, I’m pretty stoked about this machine. It’s really nice having a laptop and since I’m travelling this month it’s going to be cool being able to get some work done and stay connected with everyone while on the road.

So I would highly recommend the Dell Studio Series laptops. In fact, if I had the money, I’d buy another one right now. Dell just came out with the Inspiron Mini 9, which is a TINY laptop that starts at only $350. Perfect for net surfing on the road and basic office stuff. Very cool.