Do you think you need a new PC? Doesn’t everyone? At the rate of both upgrades in hardware, speeds, memory demands, hard disk, etc. we never seem to be content with our current PC. Well it took me just about a year to finally acknowledge that my current desktop replacement laptop was just too old/slow. While my Dell Inspiron 4000 has served me well, it was time to upgrade.
I have always been a fan of laptops, even as desktop replacements. I just like the look, less clutter, etc. of a laptop versus a desktop. Though my primary laptop never moves (hence one could argue I should just get a desktop), I just like laptops. Sometime back, I had chosen the Inspiron 4000 series over the Inspiron 8000 series because I felt at that time that the 8000s were just too big. But as my 4000 sat in the same spot for a year, I came to the realization that size was not a relevant issue. What I wanted was more power, and more of everything else.
At the end of the day, I had to make a choice. There were so many cool and interesting models out there. From Sony, to Toshiba, even Compaq and Fujitsu had cool models. While the Apple Titanium Powerbook G4 wins for design, I just couldn’t go with the Mac OS. I knew I had to choose a specific detail that would narrow my choices down. I decided that aesthetics could likely be foregone because my home PC would never see the light of day. Of course I didn’t want it to be an eyesore either so something functional but not too ugly. Price was of course a factor — I want value for money. Weighing all the different factors, I decided that the most import consideration above all other things was the screen.
More than anything else, above speed, memory, weight, looks, etc. I had to have a great screen, if not the very best. Sometime back, Danny told me about the awesome Dell UXGA screen that only it and IBM had. So I looked into it. Dell and IBM are the only two (to my knowledge this is still true) that make a super high-resolution 1600×1200 UXGA screen. I don’t think you can even buy a 15” or 17” standalone LCD monitor with that resolution for a desktop PC today.
That essentially narrowed my choices to two makers – easy enough. When I looked at the IBM, it was 35-40% more expensive than the Dell. That plus Dell’s awesome ability to customize individual options made the decision easy. So I bought an Inspiron 8200 online and it was delivered in about 4 days.
Dell laptops are not going to win design awards and clearly lack a great deal of the appeal of some laptops like those from Sony and Apple. But Dell has tried to spice it up a little. The Inspiron tried to add some flavor by having snap-on plates that could add color to certain aspects like the palm rests. Cute, but nothing fancy here. At least the new Inspiron comes with cool metallic-color plates.
Because it’s a major weight laptop, everything is included. This makes the overall system big and heavy, but the ports, drives, pretty much everything you need is right there. I still never figured out why Dell’s had to have both the pointing stick and the cursor pad. I’m not a big fan of the cursor pad and it often accidentally gets in the way when you are typing, i.e. it’s easy to move the cursor without intending to do so. Not a big deal, but a minor irritation.
Other than that, it’s a big monster but it’s not overly ugly. In fact, I find it highly functional.
The Inspiron 8200 really flies. Maybe it’s the P4 1.8 Mghz Intel chip, or the 512 MB of Ram, but this baby can zoom. These days, you can pretty much pick out whatever specs you want, but the Dell goes even further by making sure you can customize nearly everything. One major annoyance with ordering here in Asia was that I could not order it with the built-in WiFi. Oh well, I have an extra WLAN PC card anyway.
I like the design of two bays, because it can be a pain to keep having to swap out the optical drive for the floppy drive. Now, my DVD/CDRW drive is on the side and floppy drive is in the front. (OK, so I almost never use the floppy drive, but it’s there.)
The basic specs are all there and I have to say that Dell does a good job of putting in the extras like Firewire, good built-in sound system, etc. This time around, I spared no expense and just got the best specs I could get. At the end of the day, I spent over US$2400, but that was still some US$900 less than the IBM model I was eyeing with similar specs.
As I mentioned above, the real winner about the Inspiron 8200 has to be the UXGA “ultrasharp” screen. It’s beautiful. Aside from the fact that 1600×1200 is pretty small (my dad had some problems with a few web pages and the tiny fonts) the screen looks amazing. Extremely bright and sharp, it’s a meaningful improvement over all previous laptops and screens. Powered by a 64MB graphics card, the computer has little problem with pretty much anything you throw at. From games to photos, the 8200 handles it all without breaking a sweat. Multi-tasking is a cinch.
Because of its weight, I have not truly tested the life of the battery and I don’t expect that it will make much of a difference to me. I surfed the web for about an hour and a half on maximum power and the Inspiron 8200 had no problems with just about a 1/3rd juice still left. I think it would probably last 2 hours if you didn’t turn on some power management details, like reducing the screen’s brightness.
Other than that, what else can I say. The Inspiron 8200 is a workhorse. All other functions are stellar.
With all the choices for laptops, I don’t think I have to tell you how confusing it can be trying to decide what to buy. There are so many different options that I think you should look at what reason you are buying a laptop. For me, I have two different kinds of laptop purchases. One is as a desktop replacement, while the other is for true portability. In the latter group, I am currently using my Fujitsu P2040 and have just moved to a Tablet PC. This type of laptop serves a different function than a laptop like the Inspiron 8200. The 8200 is a desktop replacement and should be treated as such. I don’t think you should compare this to other laptop models that are built for portability. In other words, don’t judge the 8200 just because it’s big and heavy.
The truth is, the 8200 isn’t very portable. I can’t imagine a situation where you want to take the Inspiron 8200 on the road. It just seems like too much, not to mention too heavy. You can get laptops without all the bulk that can pretty much do what you need for trips. Otherwise, you’ll predominantly be using a desktop in the office and/or a desktop at home (or in my case, a desktop replacement laptop). Maybe there are people that like to drag around their desktops, but it just doesn’t seem to make sense. File transfer is no longer an issue with CD drives. After traveling extensively for the past few years, I can tell you that traveling weight is a very important factor.
If you are looking into a desktop replacement laptop, I don’t think you can do any better than the Inspiron 8200. It is still by far the best buy out there in terms of both value for money and specs. I’ve seen newer desktop replacements that still don’t have as a good a screen as that offered by the Inspiron 8200. This is definitely an ESSENTIAL buy if you are looking for a single machine to do all necessary power computing. But if you are looking for a traveling computer, look elsewhere.