Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why Dell and Gateway Are Going Into Retail

I recently bought a Dell for my daughter. This was the first desktop that I ever purchased by simply walking into a store and walking out with a box. My Toshiba laptop was the first computer that I ever purchased at retail and not online. I went to the local WalMart and bought the second cheapest computer in stock. The cheapest was an eMachines. It came with a widescreen monitor, 2 GB of RAM, an AMD dual core processor, Vista, and a 250 GB hard drive for less than $1,000.00. One thing about just walking in and picking up a computer is that you don't have the same urge to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade that you do when ordering online. It works just fine for my daughter who was thrilled.

Having succeded with the Toshiba and a Dell, I decided to do the same thing for my new laptop. I went to the local OfficeMax, which had a supply of HPs, Sony's, and Toshibas. After looking them over, an employee pointed out to me that they had the HP Pavilion dv6000 for $799.99 bundled with an HP printer and digital camera. The dv6000 has an AMD processor (only my second), 2 GB of RAM (which is more than you can even add to the old Toshiba), a widescreen, Vista Home Premium, and a 160 GB hard drive.. It seemed like a no brainer to me. Plus with Christmas coming, I figured that I could give the printer to my daughter to go with her new Dell and the camera to my son. I took one. I had thought about buying a business laptop with Windows XP, which seemed to be available at Office Depot, but I figured that if I really hated Vista, I could retro-upgrade to the older more familiar experience of XP. So far, so good.

Pleasant Surprises: The widescreen is gorgeous. It is at least the equal of my Toshiba's and that was really good. The built in Altec Lansing speakers are 100 times better than the crummy Toshiba speakers. It is much lighter than my Toshiba. In fact, it is almost too light. The shell is clearly plastic, which may be one reason that it is so light, and I worry about the construction quality of this lightweight, plastic laptop. It is also very thin. It is much thinner than the Toshiba. However, the lightness and thinness make it a pleasure to travel with. It is the lightest, thinnest laptop I've ever owned. I buy my laptops to serve as a desktop replacement that I lug to work and back home again so lightness and thinness were never a priority before. It has a webcam and built in microphone, which I've never had before. I might have to try some video communications now.

Disappointments: The aforementioned lightweight, plasticky feel. Vista seems to take too long to boot up (not that my former XP laptop was a speed demon). It took me forever and multiple tries before I could get it to connect reliably to my home wireless network. At first, it didn't even seem to find the network and I thought it was broken. However, after monkeying around with the settings and exploring, I finally found one that worked. I've now connected to wireless networks at home, Orlando International Airport, a Microtel Hotel, my in-laws in Williamstown, a Howard Johnson's motel, and (at this very moment) my in-laws in Albany. Guess I've got it figured out. The touchpad has a virtual scroll bar on the right side so every time I brush it with my right palm the screen jumps around. It is pretty annoying. I've adjusted the pressure settings and it has improved, but it hasn't gone away completely. I loaded Office 2003 and now the EULA keeps popping up when I use it. According to a Crucial Memory scan, 2 GB is the maximum amount of RAM that the computer can handle. I'm going to investigate that further though. Given that 2 GB is the minimum recommended for Vista I'd like to have the option to add another 2 GB.

Over-all I am pretty happy with it, especially for the price of $799.99

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