The thoughts, opinions, happenings, and just plain ramblings of a seemingly boring person.

New Laptop, Goodbye Old Servant

Dell Vostro 1520I've had my current laptop (named 'Phantom') since February 2004. That makes it almost 6 years old, and since i got it it's been a wonderful servant over the years. It's a HP nx7010 business-line laptop, and basically the only thing i've done to it over the years is upgrade the memory.

Although the laptop is still mostly functional, i've been thinking it's about time to let it go. It doesn't have a DVD burner (it only has a DVD combo drive) and only has 'b' wireless networking. In the past 12 months the optical drive has stopped working altogether, and the battery has also stopped working so the computer won't run without a power lead.

A combination of these things, as well as others (such as the old Pentium M processor struggling to keep up with the latest Flash versions for online video etc), meant that we finally bit the bullet and got a new laptop.

As you can imagine, i'm really quite picky with these things. There are a few deal-breakers with laptops and my personal use: my ideal screen size for the intended use is a 15.4 inch widescreen, and I hate glossy screens with a vengeance. Glossy screens are the devil as far as i'm concerned! Unfortunately that single criteria eliminates the majority of laptops.

The other thing that really annoys me with recent laptop fashion is manufactures trying to cram in a numeric keypad onto the keyboard of on 15.4 inch laptops. The problem i have with that is that it offsets the main part of the keyboard to one side of the laptop, which just seems crazy to me. So that criteria also eliminates most retail-line 15.4 inch laptops.

So my choices were rather limited, and the after some research, one of the only models that suited me within a acceptable price-range and specification was the Dell Vostro 1520: matte screen, normal keyboard, pretty good specs.

So we ordered it before Christmas and it arrived this week. It's a decent machine without being anything special. I specced it out with a Intel C2D P8600 2.4GHz processor, 4GB RAM, Nvidia 9300M graphics, and Windows 7. There's a few annoying things about it: i think they've been a bit paranoid with the cooling settings in the BIOS (the fan is on almost all the time blowing out mostly cool air), and surprisingly the USB ports on the thing are some of the tightest i've ever come across. But those are relatively minor and I can live with them.

I was wanting to name the new laptop something starting with a V (from the model name (Vostro)), and after watching Underworld again earlier this week, we settled on the name 'Viktor' after Bill Nighy's awesome character from the film series.

With the arrival of this computer, it's the first time i've had a decent play with the full release of Windows 7. It's a fairly solid OS, but i really don't like the implementation of the task bar. For me the 'pinning' is very unintuitive, I much prefer the older 'quick launch' method for really commonly used programs. I do like the features of of the 'Peek' from the window previews, the jump-lists, and being able to drag and drop to reorder program groups on the taskbar (but why they didn't echo that functionality for the windows within the program groups is beyond me). Plus it would be good if you could choose certain windows/applications to group/ungroup/degroup them on the taskbar. I might look around for an add-in similar to Taskbar Shuffle for that...

Anywho, it's going to be sad to say goodbye to the old Phantom, but it's had a long and good life.

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