My New Rig

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 - Insprion 1525, External BTC 6300C Keyboard, and Dell 22

My Rig. Simple, productive, and…gray. Wait, is that iTunes on the external monitor? Back to work!

The View from My Office

The view from my office (note downtown Boston in the distance)

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#1 GeekCyclist on 08.01.08 at 12:59 pm

“Of course, most of us remember when hard drives were around 3GB.”

A few of us remember well before that. My first computer with a hard drive had 20 MB, and the whole package cost me roughly half my student loan amount for that year. And that was my third computer.

#2 MattyJ on 08.02.08 at 3:48 am

Awesome monitor stand!

#3 Matt on 08.04.08 at 3:13 pm

Forget the computer, I dig the view!

#4 Nick Masao on 08.05.08 at 6:16 am

Nice office!