So I finally broke down and bought a laptop. I’ve been on the hunt for one for last few months, just watching the deals come and go, watching the prices drop and the hardware specs get better and better. Ultimately I knew I would just have to jump at some point and get whatever was the best deal I could find at the time when I was ready to buy. So when I found a coupon deal from Dell to get $500 off any E1505 priced over $1399, I decided now was the time.
Coupon deals from Dell range anywhere from as little as $100 to as much as $750 and they come and go with the wind, but any way you slice it, $500 off is a pretty good deal, one that I don’t think comes around very often, at least not off of a $1399-priced notebook. Not to mention the $49 off the ATI Mobility X1400 graphics card is an added bonus through tomorrow. A few weeks back I was bummed that I didn’t jump at a deal offering $379 off an E1505 priced at $1078. Now I’m glad I waited, of course. A month from now it will probably be the same tale, but I’ll wish I had waited. Anyway, here’s what I got for $1491 – $500 – $49 = $942 plus tax, free shipping:
Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz 667MHz CPU – $250 upgrade over the Pentium (gag) dual-core. The reasons here are probably obvious. C2D is the only way to go. The T7200 offers 4MB of L2 cache and a 2.00GHz clock, which makes it just that much better than the T5600. Still not the fastest laptop processor you can buy, but the fastest one available in the E1505 lineup. Most people will agree, you can never go wrong with more processing power, as long as its within your budget, get the fastest CPU you can afford. I suspect the price drop may be due to the upcoming Santa Rosa platform, but for me the T7200 will be plenty juice for my needs – DVDs, pictures, graphics, Internet, videos, word processing, etc.
Windows XP – I’ve used Vista, I’ve messed around with Vista, I’ve got Vista RC2 on my main computer, but for this laptop, I really just wanted XP. Though this laptop would run Vista just fine, it will run XP just that much better. I’m just not sold that Vista is going to improve or increase my productivity at this stage of its release. It looks cool, its fun to use, it’s got some cool features, but its unnecessary in a laptop who’s hardware configuration is just barely enough to run it. I’m going to throw Ubuntu 7.04 on the recovery partition and play around with that instead. Not only that but I somehow saved $45 by configuring with XP over the same configuration with Vista, go figure? The Ubuntu configuration was the exact same price as the XP one, apparently since it came with the NVidia Go7300 instead of the Radeon X1400 which was $49 off.
15.4″ UltraSharp Wide Screen WGXA+ with TrueLife – This was a $50 upgrade that I debated back and forth. I’m not a big fan of the glossy screens, but I didn’t want the default 1280×800 resolution. I didn’t feel like forking over an extra $100 for the WSXGA+ resolution (which at 1680×1050 is more screen than my current 19″ – all on a relatively small 15.4″ screen) because I thought the icons and fonts would be too small to read and I really didn’t want to spent that much more for the higher resolution. 1440×900 seems like a good compromise between price and resolution. Though I’ve never actually seen any Dell laptop screens, I’m hoping it looks good and doesn’t have too much glare and has a good amount of usable, viewable workspace.
1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM – This was actually a $25 upgrade from the 533MHz RAM as the default configuration. I felt the $25 was a drop in the bucket at this point to at least get the RAM up to the bus speed of the CPU. I’ll most likely sell the RAM later on eBay and pick up 2GB from NewEgg for only $80. Dell wanted $125 to upgrade to 2GB, so I opted for the 1GB for now to save money knowing I can upgrade later on at my leisure for less.
8x DVD-R/CD-R Drive – $40 upgrade from the CD burner to get the DVD burner which is worth it in my opinion. You never know when you’re going to need to back up a few gigs of data or burn a DVD of the latest vacation videos for the family. Small price to pay to be able to burn to a DVD. And it’s a dual-layer burner to, so that’s nice.
80GB 7200rpm HDD – This was a $45 upgrade over the 120GB 5400rpm HDD and I struggled with making this decision as well. Do I need the extra space? Or do I want the extra speed? Reason would tell you that the 7200rpm drive will be appreciably faster than the 5400 drive, but if you actually look at performance comparisons, depending on the manufacturer and type of drive, it’s anybody’s guess which drive is actually faster. Most people argue that yest it is noticeably faster when booting into Windows and loading applications, transferring data and playing games. Others say no you can’t tell, the faster spinning drives run the battery down faster, are hotter, are more prone to failure, etc. Well whatever the cons, the main one being how much the 7200rpm drives cost ($100 more than a comparable 80GB 5400rpm drive) I decided to get the 7200rpm drive and just use external drives for storage. This laptop is actually going to replace my current P4 desktop computer (going to be going DTR with this E1505), so it needs to be at least on par, if not better, than my current setup. The 7200rpm drive just made sense for my configuration. Not to mention I had to get the price of the laptop over $1399 in order to apply the coupon.
256 MB ATI Mobility X1400 Graphics – This is the default option and they were doing a deal where you save $49 through Thursday, so that kind of pushed me to making this decision sooner than next week when the actual $500 coupon is suppose to expire. From what I’ve read this is a great card. I’m not into gaming or anything, and from what I’ve read this card is pretty bad at playing any of the latest games. It should be fine for playing DVDs and just general graphics stuff. I’m hoping I can run the VGA out into my Samsung 19″ at its default resolution of 1280×1024 and use both screens when I’m sitting at my desk.
9-cell 85watt/hour Battery – This one seemed like a no-brainer. The 6-cell batteries don’t last more than 2-3 hours (so they say) but with the 9-cell I should get at least 4-5 hours, or so. It’s a small price to pay for longer runtime away from a power chord. And the 9-cell it suppose to fit into the laptop snug, and not stick out, like the HP 12-cell ones do. Besides batteries are expensive, I didn’t want to have to upgrade this later wishing I had done it when I order it.
Intel PRO/Wireless 3945a/g – So this is a $29 upgrade over the Dell 1390. This was mainly based on some comments I had read over at www.notebookreview.com where people were complaining about the Dell card, saying the range was horrible, and the connection speed was lousy. Most people with the Intel card were happy as clams, so the $29 seemed worth not having to hassle with some lame wireless card. Since I’ll be using the laptop to do stuff on the Internet a lot, I didn’t want that part hanging me up and giving me problems. The cost is small, relative to the entire laptop, but can be a big impact on the end user experience. I’m planning on picking up a LinkSys WRT54GL router in the next few days. They should play nice together, I’ve never had issues with LinkSys and just about every other brand I can’t stand (D-Link for example) but maybe it’s just me.
And that about sums up my new Inspiron E1505. It’s not going to get here for a couple of weeks, but when it does I’ll be sure to write up a quick review of it, as if there aren’t enough reviews about the E1505 already. One thing I already know I don’t like are those lame white bumpers that surround the edges and the silver I could do without, but oh well, it’s cheaper than any other their other lines, and looks aren’t that important to me anyway. For the price and the options I got, this should be a great notebook for many years to come.
UPDATE: Check out my post on upgrading this laptop to Windows 7!