Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Me and the core duo

So I've now upgraded to a Dell Latitude D820. It's got a Core Duo chip, 2 GB of RAM, a bigger (and higher-res) display, a thinner body and a somewhat more stylish look than the Latitude D610 it replaces. Here's a review from PC Magazine:,1759,1943236,00.asp

And here are a couple of pictures from C|net:

Note that I do not plan to use my new computer as a footstool.

The D610 was a nice machine. The display was bright, had a good resolution (1400x1050) and was very clear. But from the moment it arrived, I knew that the machine was too small for my personal tastes and needs. The D610 was physically smaller than the Inspiron it was replacing. I tried to regard this as an advantage, which for many users it would be. But since I use the machine as a desktop replacement and don't carry it around a great deal, the smaller size isn't especially meaningful to me except as it limits the size of the display and perhaps the roominess of the keyboarding area. I had thought about getting the D810 at the time and should have done so. Why doesn't Dell have a store where you can go in and actually eyeball these items before you buy? Anyway, the D820's display is perfect, best I've ever used. With a resolution of 1680x1050, I've got room to work in FileMaker Pro and put the debugger comfortably off to the side, obviating the need for two monitors. And while the Core Duo chip doesn't change my life, the machine does feel more responsive, and seems to work better when I have many apps open, as I usually do.

Transferring from one machine to another was surprisingly easy. I used the Windows File and Settings Transfer Wizard, located in the Start Menu. I ran it first on the old machine and copied everything to a folder on a 250 GB hard drive. Then I attached that drive to the new machine, ran the wizard again, and all the old documents and settings were copied over. Took about half an hour on each machine, but otherwise it was painless. The only problem was that it didn't catch my Thunderbird email, which is stored in the Application Data folder. I copied that stuff manually. Not sure that most users would know to do that. Perhaps they would.

On the new machine, the first thing I installed was Firefox 1.5. After that, I next installed Microsoft Office. Once again, I'm using two accounts: an admin account for installations only and a limited privileges account for routine use. As I reported earlier, on the Latitude D610, I was unable to get Office to work in the limited privileges account, in spite of many hours of assistance from Microsoft tech support. But it seems to work okay now that I've installed from scratch on the new machine. I read someone somewhere say that the biggest problems he had with software in Windows were apps that came from Microsoft. My experience, too. The Office installation fiasco is the only significant problem I've had in the last six months. Anyway, everything is working fine now.

I reinstalled nearly all of my apps from scratch: Dreamweaver, FileMaker Pro Advanced, As-U-Type, Picasa (have not yet installed Photoshop Elements 4 and am not sure I will), SnagIt 8, Thunderbird (just so I could read my older email). It's good to have clean installations of these apps.

The new machine was a bargain. Want to buy from Dell? Visit their Web site every day and watch for sales.

All in all, this is definitely the best computer I've ever owned.

(Originally published on Typepad 5/16/2006)

About Me

I am an event photographer living in Dallas, Texas.