I am guessing 9 or so months ago we decided to upgrade my wife’s laptop. She was running an old mini-Dell that was starting to slow significantly and was having some off and on issues that I could not pin down. We did some research and eventually decided on another Dell, but this time we acquired it on sale at the local Best Buy. This resulted in a little higher price compared to what we could have done on the web, but we felt it was worth not having to wait for it to be delivered. So back to home we went with her new Dell XPS Studio 15 (I think that was the number). I should note, we did not buy the ridiculous “Geek Squad Optimized” package which consisted of them changing a few settings and tacking on about 40 bucks to the price tag. Once home, she went to work getting it hooked up to the house network (wireless) and adding all of her required software. Almost immediately, the wireless network started flaking out on her at random times. Unfortunately, this was the first computer we had that was installed with Vista so we were ill equipped to pinpoint the cause. I do not think we ever really got this straightened out and instead used our Verizon card most of the time to get on Al Gore’s (sigh) Internet as opposed to going through our house network attached to the Dish Satellite access. We probably could have figured out what was wrong (assuming it was a configuration problem and not a Vista flaw), but instead we were spending our debugging time trying to figure out why we could not install a single Microsoft patch without the machine blue (actually black bios) screen dumping with IRQ errors. No matter what official patch we tried to install, it introduced immediate instability and eventually would crash whether it was on the first reboot or a couple of restarts later. This was unbelievably annoying and resulted in us being about 133 patches behind on the Vista OS.
This all changed about two weeks ago. Fed up with Vista we were just about ready to try out my new Ruger 1022 on it. As a last ditch effort, we decided to ghost the OS onto a backup and install one of my Windows 7 licenses. I had picked up a few when they were on pre-release sale in order to eventually replace a bunch of XP machines I have. This ghosting ended up cost me some bucks on an upgrade because my version of Casper (which I love) didn’t support the 64x OS this laptop was built with. With the drives backed up, I put in the Windows 7 Professional disk and prepared to spend the next 10 hours fighting the install in the same manner my XP upgrades had taken to get right. Low and behold, the install took off, asked me where to install and … and… proceeded to execute flawlessly. I literally went off to play Rock Band with some friends while the install was taking place coming back periodically to check the progress. A few reboots later it was prompting me for some configuration parameters (accounts, timezone etc.) and presto, the machine was up and running again. Next came the true test. The dreaded update process was upon me. Selecting the automatic upgrade option from the menu brought me to the Microsoft web page to verify the configuration. Sweat was starting to appear, the nails were taking a biting and the nerves were a tad frayed. The bright side of all of this was I really wanted to test fire the Ruger and this would be a fun target. The progress bar made it to the end and an install summary was displayed. Living on the edge, I went ahead and selected them all and hit the innocent looking submit button. I heard the fans cheering again so back to the band to earn a few million more fans.
A few hours later, I stole a peek at the laptop and there it was sitting there at the user page patiently waiting for me to bask in the glory that is Windows 7. Although the trigger finger was disappointed, I was quite relieved. Everything looked like it was running great. I even rebooted it a few times to see if I would encounter any death screens. Flawless execution. Since then Linda has installed all of her software and it has been successfully integrated into the house network without any issues. I must say, as much as Vista angered me, Windows 7 was a truly enjoyable install. Kudos to Microsoft for getting it right this time and goodbye to Vista which took the death spiral exit out the toilet.
Oh, almost forgot. There is still a MAJOR flaw with this laptop. The idiot design engineer decided the best place for the laptop fan was on the back of the laptop. This tends to work great as long as you keep the angle of the screen at 90 degrees or less to the keyboard. Any opening beyond that point causes the edge of the screen to obstruct the airflow of the fan resulting in the hot air going directly onto the screen and even more flawed restricts the cooling of the laptop causing it to get so hot you cannot even touch the bottom of “LAP”top. At this point, I recommend AGAINST going with this model unless you want to save some money on your heat bills in the winter.
I better not see any comments about Macs – I’d use my TI994a before subjecting myself to a product peddled by a condescending Apple spokesperson – not to mention it has more games 8^)