My Vista Experience, Part One

Vista%20screen.jpg 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 -- 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.

dell%20E1505.jpg 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)
-- 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

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).

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!

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Marc Robins is having a hell of a time with Microsoft Windows Vista. Marc has encountered several problems -  Everything from printer drivers to Second Life not working and Internet Explorer crashing. Vista performance issues also seem to be happe... Read More

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You paid $1120 for a well-loaded Dell E1505! I bought virtually the same configuration (with R/W CD and R DVD, not R/W DVD), with the addition of Paint Shop Pro software, about one two weeks ago, and paid $1700+. The major exception was that I purchased a three year service contract, not one year. I guess I should have paid closer attention to the cost of the service contract. $500 for a service contract seems a bit stiff. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Vista and keeping busy downloading software updates, patches and resolving compatibility issues for software that Vista doesn't find agreeable. When will Microsoft ever learn that most people use computers to run applications, not to oh-and-ah at the OS and its desktop layer? I need a reliable OS that doesn't get in my way, and will run my current applications. After 25+ years in the business, and taking many dollars from my pocket, it appears that Microsoft is still falling short of meeting my needs and expectations.

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