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Shiny New Laptop

I just got a new Dell Inspirion 6000 to replace my older Inspirion 1100. There was a nice promo on the 6000, and I have a Pentium-M 740, 1GB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive, as well as integrated Wireless b/g, bluetooth, a DVD writer (not that I will ever use this in a laptop..) and a 15.4″ widescreen LCD.

Inspiron 6000The first thing I did was try to install our corporate copy of Windows 2000 Professional, to bring it inline with the rest of the systems at work. I had a few devices not recoginized, so I re-installed with XP Pro on the advice of a friend. I ran into the same problems, but eventually worked my way through them. I’m pretty sure that I could have fixed the problem with Windows 2000 as well, but I didn’t feel like re-installing again.

The bluetooth driver was most problematic. The Dell downloads didn’t even show bluetooth drivers when I selected my machine, or entered my service tag. I actually thought that by entering my service tag they should have only shown me drivers for my exact machine, instead of the 4 different possible wireless options, display options, etc. After looking at my invoice and doing some searching, I found the bluetooth driver.

One big thing for me is the keyboard layout. My old Inspirion 1100 had a strange layout, with home, pgup/down, and end along the right side of the keyboard, with insert and delete to the left of the cursor keys. It took me a while but I eventually got used to it. This keyboard now has a layout closer to a normal 104-key keyboard, with the aforementioned keys grouped together in the top right, in basically the same configuration as a normal keyboard. I still reach for the delete key in the wrong place, but it’s certainly easier to get used to. I’ve yet to understand why nobody puts a full-size keyboard (minus the number pad) on a widescreen laptop. I guess they figure the 1″ of nothing on each side is a better use of space?
I’m more than impressed with the battery life. I got the 8-cell 80-WHr battery, which is the biggest you can get for it, and on a full charge, with bluetooth and WiFi turned on I get 5 hours. I think that’s pretty impressive for a laptop with a large widescreen display. It is definately a refreshing change from the dying battery in my 1100 that would get about an hour.

I’ve had some issues with wireless just “stopping”: the WiFi light goes out, and it loses all connectivity, even though the icon in the task tray still shows a good signal. I have to disable and re-enable WiFi using the keyboard (Fn + F2) to restore the connection. It sometimes also takes a couple of minutes to get an address from the DHCP server. At work, I’ve watched the logs, and the DHCP server sees the requests, and offers an address, but the laptop simply doesn’t take it.

This machine has quickly become my primary computer, both at work and home. I use it for everything from browsing the web and checking email, to programming, to working in photoshop. Though I never thought I’d say this, the 1GB of ram really helps for someone like me, who keeps 7 or 8 applications open at any time (it’s not uncommong for me to have 4 instances of visual studio, or a bunch of firefox tabs and windows, or both).

Overall, I’m quite happy with this laptop, and I would recommend others looking for a decent system at a reasonable price.

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