Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dude, I'm getting a Dell!

I’ll admit it – I’ve been spoiled for the last 9 years or so. Oracle has always provided its employees with a laptop or desktop (or both) system. Every couple years or so, you can typically convince your manager that you need an upgrade. Once your manager agreed and approved it, you could go to a web page, click on a picture of a laptop, and typically 2 or 3 days later, it would show up on your desk. Not bad!

My most recent machine was a Toshiba Tecra M2. I loved it – it had awesome battery life (could easily make the trip from Dulles to San Francisco), didn’t weigh a ton, and just worked well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take it with me, and since my new job requires me to own a laptop, I had to purchase one ASAP.

As someone who designs software and applications, I was shocked to find that almost every major PC company’s Laptop/PC configuration site was way too complicated and cluttered! There are simply too many choices to make configuring a laptop an efficient process. Sure, there is a class or persona that likes this flexibility, but I would argue that most people – power users and beginners alike – do not fall in this category.

Starting out, I sorta knew what I wanted: a fast, capable machine with a 15” screen (not 17” – I’ve seen Tom Kyte’s machine, and that’s just too much to lug around!), a good amount of RAM and a fast hard drive. I also needed a reputable firm with a good service agreement, as a broken laptop means no billable hours for me!

Configuring a laptop was no easy task. There were way too many options to choose from. Most of the major sites tried to sell me loads of software I didn’t want, accessories that I’ve never heard of, and things that I just didn’t get. Here’s one of my favorite options:

XD is a Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional SP2 security feature that can help prevent a class of viruses (buffer overrun attacks). XD can only be enabled with current Intel® Pentium® D, Pentium® 4 and Intel® Celeron® D Processor combined with Windows® XP Professional SP2.
_X_ None
___ Execute Disable Bit for Microsoft® Windows® XPSP2 set to OFF.


Luckily for me, my brother – who also happens to work at Oracle - is an expert at PC hardware. After a few IMs and a couple of phone calls with him, he steered me towards either Dell or HP. He also introduced me to the world of is a site which lists all kinds of Internet coupons – from PCs to steaks. He was able to find me a 30% off coupon from Dell, which made the choice between Dell & HP a little easier, as I saved over $700!

I ended up going with the Inspiron 6000 with an Intel Pentium M 770. Heeding my brother’s advice one more time, I bought 2GB at for $250, saving another $100 or so. Sure, I have to install it, but that’s easy to do and well worth the $100. Since I was able to save over $800, I threw in a docking station. Why not?

The only downside is that it won’t ship for a week or so, leaving me laptop-less for the first week of my new job. Fortunately, my brother has an extra Toshiba that will get me by. It’s not the best machine, but I don’t see myself doing anything that technical in the first week anyways. At least I hope not!


Pratap said...

Typically what is the max life of a laptop? Have to think of it before making a huge investment.

Scott said...


That all depends on what you plan on doing with it.

At some point, I envision conducting an HTML DB class for 15-20 people using my laptop as a server (been done before with a much slower machine). Therefore, I went with the fastest processor & most memory possible on that machine.

When I was at Oracle, I had a Terca M2, which was fast enough and didn't weigh that much at all - which was a plus, as I was doing a lot of travel. Now, my machine is heavier (7lbs or so), but I don't do any travel (so far, at least), so that's not a big deal.

You can get a capable machine for about $1000 these days - check the Internet for coupons & deals. It will likely last at least a couple of years. But keep in mind, as soon as it arrives on your doorstep, it will be out of date. :)


- Scott -

Bovaird said...