I’ve been wanting to upgrade my 6 year old Dell Vostro 1400 for a little while now, though it wasn’t urgent since the Vostro works pretty well, especially after reinstalling everything back in February. I bought a ultra portable Transformer T100 which can also be used as a tablet if you remove the keyboard, but it was too small for me. I thought maybe I could get a powerful laptop that I could use to replace my ancient desktop computer and also take it with me when I needed to, but I find myself using the laptop a lot while watching TV, so I’m not sure I would use the laptop as a desktop very often. Plus I wanted to support two monitors, but I’m not sure how that would work. Maybe I could just get one very large monitor to take the place of two separate monitors.
Last year Intel introduced a new version of its Pentium series of processors, codenamed Haswell. These are also called 4th generation chips. The thing I liked about them was not only are they faster than the third generation chips, but Intel made them much more efficient meaning the battery life would be better or they could use a smaller, lighter battery. So I wanted something with a Haswell processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, and a touch screen, which my experience with the Transformer and Windows 8.1 taught me was a pretty key addition. I would like more than 4 GB of RAM and a backlit keyboard would be nice too, but those are only available on pretty expensive computers and I wanted to stay below $500. I looked for computers for a while, but then kind of gave up since it wasn’t urgent. Then I started looking again recently and Office Depot had a Dell Inspiron 15 laptop for $370 which seemed like a pretty good deal. I have had good luck with Dell computers, even though I don’t think they are nearly as good as they used to be. I picked up the new computer this week. It is substantially larger than the Vostro 1400 it replaces, but also pretty thin and maybe a little lighter due to the smaller battery.
I still have a lot of issues with how hard it is to do anything in Windows 8.1, but one thing that is great is that it boots really, really fast. I found out that it does this by usually not actually shutting down, but hibernating the system and then waking up to the same state instead of reloading everything.
The laptop comes with facial recognition via its camera, but it is faster and more reliable to enter a PIN number for startup. Seems like it is a pretty good computer, so I hope it will last 6 years.