New addition: Beaker

New laptop! My existing laptop, Camilla, is going on five years old soon, and is starting to show her age, so it was time for her to be replaced. The new laptop — named Beaker — is a Dell Inspiron 1420. As a 14-inch laptop, it’s slightly smaller and lighter than Camilla, but also significantly more powerful, with a modern Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Bunch of neat integrated features: webcam, Bluetooth, wireless, card reader. And it meets my number 1 requirement for laptops, in that it has a standard S-Video/component/composite connection for TV-out capabilities. Lots of smaller laptops either drop that feature or have moved to HDMI, but I place a value on being able to connect to a wide range of TVs as opposed to the smaller percentage supporting HDMI.

Another cool thing is that this is the only 14-inch laptop I found which supported the 1440×900 resolution, every other was a lower resolution. Since I do development, I greatly value having more screen real estate, and this resolution really does not seem too high for this size screen. Text is still crisp and readable.

Lastly, this laptop is my first exposure to Windows Vista. So far, I’m not-unimpressed. Lots of small changes to the GUI, but overall I think they are positive changes. It resolves many long-standard pet-peeves I’ve had with the XP interface: the term “Start button”, preceding everything with “My”, and over use of primary colors. Other than that, lots of configuration options have moved around, mostly in ways that are neither good nor bad. I haven’t had negative experiences so far with it. It’s not earth-shatteringly amazing, but it’s not horrible either. Just some slight improvements. I’m OK with that.

Overall, I am very happy with this laptop so far. It does everything I need it to, performs well, looks pretty sleek, and was a good value. Farewell Camilla, you’ve served me well the last five years.

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