In dire need of a new laptop, I decided to make the plunge into Vistaland. I shopped around for "the best value for the buck" deal and after much debate -- and after discovering a 20% off coupon on Dealcatcher.com -- I ordered a new Dell Inspiron E1505.
Actually, when I went looking for a new system, I was going to stick with Windows XP, since it's working for me and I saw no compelling reason to change. But when I placed the order for the E1505 about a week ago, Dell gave me a choice of Vista Premium or Vista Business -- no sign of XP on the configuration screen. I suppose if you call in your order and insist on XP, Dell might cave in. But on their Web site, XP has simply disappeared.
Being adventurous, I decided what the heck and went with the flow. I paid a tad over $1120 for a system with the following main components (a package that packs quite a big bang for the bucks in my opinion):
-- Core 2 Duo T5200 (2MB cache/1.6GHz/533MHz FSB)The laptop arrived yesterday, and I forged ahead with a little bit of trepidation mixed in with the excitement of setting up a virgin PC. Things went smoothly -- no glitches or hiccups during the initial setup, and the subtle Vista enhancements were compelling (more on these to come in Part 2 of my Vista Experience).
-- 15.4 WXGA screen with Trulife (glossy finish) at 1280 x 800
-- 2 GB DDR2 533MHz RAM
-- 256MB ATI Radeob X1400
-- 120GB 5400RPM hard drive
-- 8X DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
-- Integrated 802.11 b/g card
-- 85 WHr 9-cell battery
-- Integrated Bluetooth module
-- 1 Year At Home Warranty
As soon as I connected to my WiFi network, a process that seems much improved over XP Media Center edition -- and gleefully noting no issues connecting to my security-laden router sporting a hidden SSID -- a big problem with the Zero Configuration utility in Media Center -- Vista wanted to perform a few updates.
That's when a little bit of fun started. Apparently, one of the patches caused one of the Sonic Solutions DLA drivers (an audio driver) in the system to suddenly become incompatible, and after a bit of research I discovered hundreds of posts about this issue. Apparently, the Vista updates render the driver unusable, and as of this post there is no update available from the device manufacturer. The only "fix" is to remove the Vista patch or live with this relatively minor issue until Sonic comes out with new code.
What I find interesting is that there are already driver incompatibility issues, and this on a brand new, virgin system! In fact, I'm starting to hear about numerous other driver issues as it seems that Microsoft rushed Vista to market before hardware vendors had a chance to catch up. I wonder how many other new Vista users are experiencing similar issues.
Otherwise, I must say I'm impressed overall by the performance of the new machine. I haven't noticed any perceptible Vista "lag" due to the OS overhead, and I'm having fun discovering all of the new features. I'll report on my favorites in the next installment of My Vista Experience. Stay tuned!