In the past 3 months I’ve completely revamped my development machine. I purchased a new external monitor, laptop, external keyboard, and printer. I figured the hours I spent researching and purchasing might benefit someone else looking to upgrade.
The New Laptop (Dell Inspiron 1525) – Dual core 2.4GHz processor, 4GB Ram, 320GB HD, Vista 64-bit. This thing screams. I’ve gone back and forth over the years between Inspirons and Latitudes, and while Inspirons have more consumer-friendly aspects (such as audio controls on the keyboard and a memory card reader), the placement of ports leaves a lot to be desired (Latitudes have all ports in the rear, while Inspirons have them all over the place). This time around I chose an Inspiron for the screen quality and price. Total cost was around $1450 including a 3-year at-home warranty.
The New Display (DELL SP2208WFP) – 22″ widescreen. 1680 x 1050 native resolution. Awesome brightness. Built-in webcam. The only downside is it doesn’t swivel 90 degrees (helpful for viewing long documents). Nonetheless, a steal at the sale price of $299 (now $339). I ran three displays for a while (2 externals + my laptop screen), but after I upgraded to Vista 64-bit my USB2DVI video adapter stopped working (no 64-bit drivers) so I’m back to two displays. I’ll probably buy a DualHead2Go in the near future, although fitting another 22″ monitor on my desk is going to be challenging.
The New OS (Vista Ultimate 64-bit) – Oy vey…transferring to a new laptop normally takes about 8 hours. This time, due to the 64-bit OS, it took me closer to 20. In addition, I lost the ability to sync with my Treo, the ability to use my Treo as a broadband cellular modem, and my ethernet card doesn’t work (although wireless is fine). I read a lot of reports on how Vista 64 is ready for primtime, and my comment is: “mostly.” Many peripherals did not work right away and this added up to several hours of troubleshooting.
I like Vista quite a bit (it’s fast with 4GB of RAM), but I have mixed feelings about the 64-bit upgrade path. However, if you want to utilize more than 3GB of RAM it’s your only choice; 32-bit Vista will not support more than 3GB. Of course, most of us remember when hard drives weren’t even 3GB. Crazy.
The New Keyboard (BTC 6300C) – I have long been a fan of laptop keyboards. I love the responsiveness of the keys and I type much faster on a laptop kayboard (which is due to the types of keys used, called “scissor keys”). I use an external keyboard since my laptop is elevated for optimal screen-viewing ergonomics (see picture below). After using a clunky $10 Dell keyboard for the past year it suddenly occurred to me that someone out there might just make an external keyboard with scissor keys. Lo and behold, there are several. I settled on the BTC 6300C, and love it. About $33 with shipping.
The New Printer (Samsung Clx-3175fn) – I looked everywhere for a color laser with built-in networking and a feeder tray. This is the only one I found under $600, and it was a steal at $299 from Office Depot (normally $399). I’ve had it for 2 weeks and I’m loving it. A huge improvement over my 5 ppm HP Photosmart.
My Rig. Simple, productive, and…gray. Wait, is that iTunes on the external monitor? Back to work!
The view from my office (note downtown Boston in the distance)