Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone...

And a belated Happy Winter Solstice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Its here!

This post is long overdue, but my new laptop its here! Wee~

Some vital stats:
Dell Vostro 1310 13.3" Laptop
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 processor, running at 2.4GHz with 3MB cache and 800MHz FSB.
Video card: 128MB Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS
Hard Disk: 250GB SATA 7200rpm hard disk with free fall sensor.
Weight: ~2kg

I picked this laptop configuration with work, mobility, photo editing and moderate gaming in mind. This thing flies like a dream compared to my old laptop, although it took me awhile to move my old files and settings via my home's wireless network.

I've been spending time adding stuff to my laptop and getting used to Vista, occassionally playing LAN games with my bro (which involved a lot of shouting things like "Zombies! Back window!") in between. One of the neat features I really liked is the sidebar, which has 2 feed readers each feeding me with news and blog updates, a notepad, and a battery of meters reporting time, date, day of week, CPU, RAM, battery and WiFi status. Neat!

So far the only complaint I have is the sound quality, which comes from 5 tiny holes from one lone speaker. I usually use a pair noise-isolating earphones whenever I can help it, which sounds really good. No bugs from Vista so far... touch wood. On the other hand, it came with an array of performance monitoring tools, a plus for me.


Now... to kill more zombies......

Merry Christmas everyone, except the zombies. Die (again)! Die(again)! Die(again)!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Circumnavigating Dell's High Upgrade Prices

I've been shopping for laptops. My "Ol' Faithful" just won't cut it any more, struggling with even the occasional Flash game I play online. I've been looking at the Dell Vostro 1310, in keeping with my desire not to carry the 3kg weight any more and I don't care what other photographers think about that puny 13.3" screen (smallest size laptop I can find that would fit a discreet graphics card). Besides, its relatively cheap.

Then, my dad had an epiphany last night. Someone told him long ago that Dell makes a heck lot of money from upgrades, so he tells me to go online and go bargain hunting. He was right.

Of particular interest were RAM prices, since these were very easily obtainable and user-serviceable. Dell has been charging RM250 to upgrade the Vostro's 1GB RAM to 4GB. By comparison, it cost RM144 to simply buy 4GB of RAM from PC Depot. That leaves me RM103 richer and two sticks of 512MB RAM to sell for.... er.... RM15 each? These are 667MHz DDR2 SODIMM RAM btw, which according to the manual, is the only RAM that my (hopefully) laptop would accept.

As for hard disks however, its not such a good deal. Upgrading straight from Dell would be better than getting the worst they have and swapping it yourself. With everything pre-configured and even a disk image of your factory-condition hard disk, this option seems even less appealing even if it did turned out cheaper. Besides, a hard disk is far more likely than a RAM to *FAIL*, in which case Dell's impeccable tech support team comes in handy. Hopefully I've learnt my lesson last time and have already backed up all my important files in a seperate hard disk before the head crash *fingers crossed and touch wood.*

What about other user-serviceable parts? Well, almost every part is "user-serviceable" with a screwdriver, the service manual (its even available online), and a bit of geekyness. Problem is: Where do you find those parts :p ? I wouldn't bother. Batteries? Hell no, I'm not willing to let my laptop burst into flames just yet, especially a new one.

This article is intended to help give you ideas to bring bargain-hunting to a new level. I can not guarantee it will work for you, and as with everything else on the internet: the onus is on you to verify that what I say is true AND applicable to your particular situation. Hence, do your own homework. I assume you have a working brain.

Manuals available from the manufacturer's website (in this case: Dell) is a good start.

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