Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thinking about buying a Dell laptop

Looking to buy a Dell laptop? Here are some recommendations:
  • Nowadays you want to get at least 2 gigabytes of RAM (I know it sound excessive, but if you are going to be using Vista, you will need it).
  • Avoid celeron processors (the company is not doing that great lately)
So I would probably avoid the low end Inspiron 1525 (the celeron one), the "Intel Pentium Dual Core" version definitely looks better. The XPS series is definitely the best, but only if you need all of the power it offers (but it comes at a price).

Regarding the operating system: I guess you might as well get it with Windows Vista (Dell does offer Linux Ubuntu machines, but they aren't really cheaper). That said, I've totally abandoned Windows for Linux, and don't have any desire or need to go back. Its finally at a place where it is very user friendly and just requires a slight alteration of thinking in certain respects. If you buy one with Vista, you can always try Linux and then go back if you want (but seriously, its at a place where there is no need to).

Here are the positives and negatives of using Linux, starting with the positives:
  • Much more secure: no need for antivirus, adware, or malware - there just aren't viruses out there targeting Linux machines.
  • Uses a lot less system resources: whereas you should probably have 3 gigs of RAM for Vista, 1 gig is sufficient for Linux (though I still recommend getting 2)
  • The software for it is totally and absolutely free, and has to always stay free because of the licensing agreements behind it. This means you literally NEVER have to buy software for it.
  • Its is backed by really big corporations like IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Novell, all of which pour tons of money into it.
Negatives:
  • You pretty much need a reliable internet connection to fully use its functionality
  • Some online services do not support the Linux platform yet, like Netflix (though I think it is in the works).
  • Not fully compatible with Microsoft (but its Microsoft's fault for not giving out the specifications for their software).
  • Not as compatible with mobile devices (but it depend on which mobile devices you have).
  • Some software on Linux just isn't as good as it is on Windows. In particular: audio/video editing, graphic editing, and lack of games.
  • Presently only about 1% of computer users use it, so you are more on your own (though there are lots of online resources)
My bet is that in a year or two, Linux machines will really have a strong foothold in the computer market. Dell started selling Linux machines a year ago, and Linux is now getting really big on smartphones. But all of this isn't really relevant to buying a computer, because I still recommend buying one with Vista.

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