My laptop arrived yesterday, nearly a week before Dell claimed it would even ship, and two days before DHL said it was to arrive. That’s not bad service, they’ve definitely got the “under promise and over deliver” philosophy down in that regard. Except no one was home to sign for it, so I had to drive down the local hub and pick it up, which wasn’t a big deal since it was basically on my way home from work. Funny thing too, two other people there also picked up a Dell, and the only boxes I could see behind the counter were all marked Dell. Using DHL is probably a wise choice on their behalf.
First impressions: Definitely looks better in person than it does in the pictures that people take. It’s heavy, though for a 15.4″ laptop, I think it’s on par with most laptops, but it feels heavy in a robust, durable, sturdy-kind-of-way, so it’s a good thing. The silver looks sharp, the white bumpers I could do without, but they aren’t that bad. The keys feel solid and light, easy to press and have just a soft click to them. It definitely takes some getting used to over using a desktop keyboard. I’m sitting on my couch in the family room as I type and I swear I’m misspelling every other word and have to go back and fix it. It’s not for lack of a better key layout, it’s because I can’t type and with everything so much smaller. A laptop keyboard is much less forgiving of people who do more hunt-and-peck typing than real typing. But I am getting used to it, as well as the touch pad, which works great. I love that you can scroll up and down just by sliding your finger along the side of the pad. Makes surfing around the web much easier.
So far everything is working perfectly. Like a paranoid geek, one of the first things I did was check all my hardware to make sure I got everything I had ordered. I didn’t want them throwing in last years Core Duo, a half a gig of RAM and a 6-cell battery on accident. Though the Device Manager essentially gives you the basics, I installed 3DMark03 and just viewed the system details for a more in-depth look at what I’d got. (For what it’s worth, I got a score of 3743). Sure enough though, I had received everything as requested. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the HDD is a Seagate Momentus 7200.1. Probably one of the best laptops drives you can buy. So with 1GB of memory (soon to be 2GB), a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 7200rpm hard drive this laptop just screams. It’s amazingly snappy and quick when opening and closing apps and browsing around files, pictures and videos. Uninstalling and installing new programs is quick too. A clean installation of iTunes 7.02 took a mere 53 seconds to complete. Super Pi finished 2M digits in 01m 02s and 4M in 02m 23s. But I’ll get more into the performance later after I’ve had a better chance to play around with it.
Just a few words about the screen – it is beautiful. I upgraded to the 1440×900 resolution, WXGA+ with TrueLife and couldn’t be happier. With the laptop sitting on my computer desk next to by Samsung 19″ LCD and watching 3DMark03 play on both, the E1505 just looks brighter, the colors are richer, and the contrast is deeper. Sure I can see myself in the screen as well, but the glare is a small price to pay for such great colors and deep blacks. I watched a few excerpts from Million Dollar Baby, just to check out the DVD player and make sure it worked, and the movie looked absolutely great and played flawlessly. Now to try out burning a DVD, and see how long it takes.
The only issue I’ve encountered so far is one time while coming out of hibernation the screen flickered once and then just went blank. I couldn’t get the screen to come back on (music was playing in iTunes, so it was running, the screen was just dark). I just had to reboot it. I’ve never used hibernation, never had to with my desktops, but I understand it can be tricky to get working right. [06.17.06 Update: Had the laptop for a week now and it continues to give me a blank screen anytime it resumes from hibernation. Apparently this is not an isolated incident. Apart from turning off hibernation all together, which doesn’t make much sense for a mobile device that runs on batteries, I’m stuck with hoping it works, and when it doesn’t, doing a hard reboot and losing anything I was working on. What a pain.] Now I’m just going through and installing all my usual applications I use for my daily work and/or play. Got FireFox 2.0, Picasa2, OpenOffice 2.2, DeltaCAD, iTunes, FileZilla, TweakUI, Pinnacle Studio Plus, Adobe Photoshop 7.0, and the list keeps going. The hardest part about getting a new computer is finding all my old installation disks of software I’ve bought over the years. They’ve all been stashed somewhere and I don’t know exactly where.
I upgraded from the Dell Wireless to the Intel ProSet Wireless and I believe it was a worthwhile upgrade. In hindsight I probably should have upgraded one more time to the Wireless N card, but I don’t know, I’ve read both good and mediocre things about Draft N, and even though getting the NIC wasn’t that much more money, buying a router that supports Draft N costs anywhere from 2-3 times what a solid 802.11g router costs. I get excellent reception everywhere in my single-story home and all the way out into the backyard and file sharing with my other computers feels almost just as fast as with the ones that are wired. Surfing the net is actually faster than my other computers, probably because this laptop is faster than anything I currently own (P4 2.0Ghz, P4 3.6Ghz, Athlon XP 2600+, and Athlon 64 3200+). Pages load almost instantly. It’s great.
All in all this Dell E1505 is great. I feel like for at least the next few weeks it was the best deal I’ve encountered and although it’s got a somewhat dated design, I can see why this is one of the most popular laptops available. If I were still in college I would have loved to have a laptop like this, I probably would have done much better and maybe learned a bit more. The $500 deal was extended another week, I keep thinking the next deal will be better than the last, but it looks like this is the one deal they might keep around for a while, at least until they release the new 1520 lineup. And now that I’ve seen pictures of it, I can’t say I’m disappointed that I didn’t wait. The E1505 is just what I needed, I may never go back to a desktop PC again.