I bought two pieces of computer hardware on a recent Saturday. Well, really three…
The last was the most impressive item, although the first wasn’t too unimpressive, either. I finally made my decision and purchased another notebook (that was the last purchase of the day — number 3).
Many readers will remember that my main computer is my notebook computer. My Dell Inspiron 8600 has served me pretty well for over four years, though. Since I’m buying a "desktop replacement" notebook, I have to use it a while to get my money’s worth out of the computer.
The most significant factor in my I8600 was the LCD screen. Many notebooks were available with resolutions of 1024×768. However, I was already used to a high resolution of 1400×1050 and used to the amount of information (in multiple windows) that I could have on the screen at one time. That one feature is probably the major reason my second notebook was a Dell as was my first.
Upgrading the memory was a great way to get better performance from the notebook. My first upgrade was to increase from the original 256 megabytes to 384 megabytes (256+128). This made Windows XP run much more quickly. Of course, as memory becomes cheaper and computers get more powerful, Windows, antivirus programs, and other programs took more and more memory and more and more computer power.
So, I upgraded to 512MB, then 1024MB and finally to the notebook’s maximum of 2048 MB (2 GB) of memory. I bought all my memory upgrades from Crucial Technologies, who has a great wizard to tell you what memory you have, which type you need, and how much you can put in your specific computer model.
The hard drives changed over the years, too. Mostly, they changed because drives became bigger and bigger, while becoming cheaper and cheaper. My original drive was 7200 RPM 60 GB model. That drive actually started failing badly and Dell replaced it with an 80 GB model. However, I was expecting only a new 60 GB model, so I ordered a 100 GB drive to use (I found another use for the 60 GB drive). My current drive is a 160 GB model, with lots of space, which was just about as big as PATA drives for notebooks were made — and cost less than $100.
As I’ve written several times, my Inspiron 8600 seems to be approaching its end of life. I was afraid that the notebook was really going bad, in addition to its keyboard not being completely reliable (one key routinely double’s, while a couple others don’t like to register the keypress unless they’re pressed "just right").
I’ve been looking at Windows Vista notebooks, while hoping that I could get my Windows XP-based Dell Inspiron 8600 to last long enough for Windows 7 to be released. I really want to get a new desktop replacement notebook with Windows 7.
My final selection was one of the new netbooks. I had seen some of the other netbook offerings with Windows and had not been overly impressed with their looks. I’ve also got one of the first netbooks, a Linux-based Asus Eee-PC, which I bought on the first day they were available. This has turned out to be so handly that, when travelling, I would take my Eee-PC along with my office notebook — and seldomly turn on the office computer. I could do almost everything I wanted to do via webmail and Firefox.
The previous week, I really looked at the Dell Mini-10 for the first time at our local Sam’s Club. I liked what I saw, too, and its price. But, when I checked the Dell web site and the Sam’s Club web site, I found that this was an older model with a slower 1.33 GHz Intel Atom processor. Not only that, it had a 1024×568 10-inch display. On the Dell web site, I found that Dell now only offered the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor.
Saturday evening, I ordered a Dell Mini-10 netbook. Processor 1.6 GHz / 533MHZ Front Side Bus Intel Atom, memory 1 GB DDR2, 160 GB SATA hard drive, Windows XP Home SP3, 10.1" HD Widescreen 1366×768 upgrade (which gives a lot more screen real estate than 1024×768 does!), 802.11g/n wireless, 2 year in-home warranty (after "remote diagnosis", and the 56 watthour 6-cell battery upgrade.
That gives me a decently sized screen with lots of screen resolution, a big hard drive, and Windows XP. Since the retail versions of Microsoft Office 2007 allow installation on a main computer and on a notebook (for the same primary user), I’ll be able to put my Office 2007 Professional on it, too. I’ll probably install OpenOffice 3, too, but I haven’t checked to see how well they handle .docx and .xlsx files. When I match the Mini-10 with my Home Site Licenses for Sunbelt Vipre and Sunbelt Personal Firewall, that will save a bundle on my anti-malware costs.
Continued in What about the Trials and Tribulations?