Monday, April 22, 2013

New Laptop v2.0: Dell Inspiron 15z

For the most part, I liked my Lenovo, but was frustrated by connectivity issues and found the hardware touch pad annoying. I also very much enjoyed my Best Buy shopping experience, so I ended up returning the laptop back to the store (and appreciated the no questions asked, hassle free return policy) and shopped around for a replacement. I knew I wanted an i7 processor, 8 gig of RAM and a touch screen. I preferred a 14" screen, but I knew that the farthest I'd be traveling with this laptop is down to the kitchen is for a snack, so weight and size weren't essentials.

There weren't a whole lot of choices, which perhaps made my life easier, and I finally walked away with a Dell Inspiron 15z. Here's some feedback after having owned it for a couple of weeks:

  • With no mention (much less hard sell) of an extended warranty, fast service and knowledgeable staff, I was again happy I bought at Best Buy. My only disappointment: Best Buy has reduced the money back guarantee span from 30 days to 14. 30 days was awesome, 14 will do.
  • In the store, I worried that the computer was going to be an unwieldy beast. At home, it hasn't seemed especially large or clunky. It's relatively thin, and takes a up reasonable footprint on my desk.
  • The touchpad and keyboard are top notch. Whooo! Finally, no more posts ranting about how the touch feels or works. I still continue to use the hack I put in place that maps caps lock to the left mouse key. Also, the fact that the backlit keyboard light comes on automatically is a nice touch.
  • I continue to see promise in the touch screen on the laptop. I haven't found an especially good use case for it yet, but I can tell that if I come across the right kind of app that's truly touch friendly, it's going to be fun to whiz around the screen like I'm a CNN anchor.
  • The cNet review for the laptop which was positive matches up well to my actual experience with the device. They do lament the relatively low resolution of the screen, but I haven't found that to be a problem.
  • One gotcha I did have: the laptop doesn't come with a built in VGA port. To utilize my external monitor, I needed to purchase an HDMI cable and a DVI-D adapter (the HDMI port on my monitor is already in use) to make the setup work. Not particularly cheap, but when it was all said and done, it works as well as the VGA setup I'm used to.
  • Over the last two weeks I've run into the dreaded Windows 8 Limited Connectivity issue a couple of times. I'm not amused. Though given that this has happened on both my laptops, I'm thinking it is indeed a Windows 8 issue and will hopefully be solved by Microsoft. In the mean time, I took the following advice from a comment on my Lenovo post:
    Go into Device Manager (search start menu for "device manager" then click Settings on the right), find the wireless network device, right click it, go to power management, and make sure it is UNchecked to allow the computer to turn it off. This is the problem!!! You're welcome!!!!
    Time will tell if that's my fix.

Stats wise the Lenovo seems more impressive than the Dell (larger drive, smaller footprint). However, from a feel perspective, I'm glad I ended up going with the Dell.

Fact of the matter is, you really can't go wrong with either laptop.

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