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April 13th, 2011 (01:15 am)

In a few months my main computer, a Dell Dimension 4100 will be 10 years old. I don't mind that too much, but the problem is that the companion screen, a Dell-Trinitron with UXGA resolution (1600 by 1200 pixels) has faded to a point where my eyes hurt when I'm reading text. It was great as long as it was "fresh". When I bought it back in 2001 I knew EXACTLY that I wanted an UXGA screen resolution and I shopped for that. The computer that went with it was not that important for me. The important thing was that it could give the correct signal for what was, at the time, a huge screen. It was easy to find.

So , I'm shopping for a new computer, and despite the fact that I know EXACTLY the kind of screen I want, an LCD with WQGA resolution (2560 by 1600 pixels) and absolutely no bells and whistles, it turns out that getting the correct companion computer is a lot more complicated than it used to be.

The biggest problem is that computer stores (brick and mortar as well as the virtual ones like Dell) have again and again cut back on staff. Their sales staff know next to nothing about the computers and the video cards they're selling. The secondary problems have to do with the diversification in computing devices in the last ten years. Desktops are only a thin wedge in a big pie. Stores make their money on the other stuff. Just getting a store that carries what I want is really not easy.

Some days I'd like to call the whole thing off. It's just a pain. Getting a nice big hi-res screen should not have to be so difficult when you're willing to pay the price. And once I've bought it and its companion PC I'll have to go through the whole installation process. I've gotten used to working in Windows 2000 for the last 10 years and now I'll have to get into System 7. ARRRRGH.

Comments

Posted by: Antikythera (chemikal)
Posted at: April 13th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC)
A few questions/statements:

1) Any interest in using a laptop instead? Personally I prefer those much, much more now (and I used to be a die-hard desktop fan). It's been wicked convenient for me with my travels here and there.

2) Have you looked at the various manufacturer's webpages for specs? I'm partial to Dell's business-line (Latitude) as that's what we use a lot at work.

3) Windows 7 will be a HUGE change for you, but really - from an IT guy's perspective, it's really nice once you get used to it. I did have to change a few things - like the grouping of icons on the taskbar and had to re-add Quicklaunch. The security benefits of the upgrade alone is worth it, IMO.

4) If you're going to upgrade over such a large gap - have you considered a Mac? Not my cup of tea personally, but their screens are beautiful and hardware seems to be pretty reliable. I use one at work and use VMWare Fusion to run Windows 7 on there too (there's a video I ought to show you if you're considering this route).

5) What do you use your machines for primarily?

Posted by: Alain (ndgmtlcd)
Posted at: April 14th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
Re: A few questions/statements:

I bought a laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1150 running Windows XP) about six years ago and I don't use it much because I'm too spoiled by my big screen at home and even bigger and newer LCD screens at the office. I'm an extremely visual guy. Going "down" to something smaller than 1600 by 1200 pixels is a pain for me. Besides, I don't need the mobility at all. The main reason I bought that laptop was for a software development project with a friend and that flopped in a spectacular fashion.

I've looked at the manufacturer Web pages but the specs don't give me the answers I'm looking for. I just don't know enough to understand how to "fit " things. The long reviews are a bit better because they offer an analysis of the specs. The thing is none of the specs for the monitors say to me "hey, with this WQGA resolution and our hardware for our monitor you'll need two cables instead of one to connect to your desktop and a minimum of X memory on Y type of graphics card on the PC and Z amount of memory on the PC itself" and things like that.

I'm looking at Dell a lot because before this 10 year old Dell Dimension of mine I had yet another Dell desktop which lasted me a bit more than ten years. You could say I was lucky since I heard a lot of bad things about Dell in the last ten years and just a few months ago there was this spectacular mess or goofup about their processors. Despite these goofups I phoned them up last week as I was shopping around and one of their representatives proposed an XPS 8300 for 2192.95, with their WQGA monitor (their Ultrasharp U3011) included in that price. Since you mention their business line I'll go take a look at their Latitude series too.

I've been trying out Macs in a regular fashion since they had their first "try one you'll love it" promotions in Canada back in 1984. For me buying a Mac would be like buying a top of the line Citroen, if they still sold them in Canada. People say that SAABs are quirky but the big Citroens are a thousand times worse. They abandoned our market years ago. It's a quirky machine where none of the dashboard/wheel controls are where they should be, and when you open the hood it's even weirder. Everything is non-standard. If you're a hardware hacker and/or a software hacker, sure you can get around those Mac "differences" and even appreciate them but I'm none of those. Also, here in Canada all the Macs are overpriced.

I use my desktop primarily for "stupid" simple things like surfing the Web and writing. I've found that just for something "dumb" like writing text an extra high resolution screen can make a lot of difference. When I go through a Word text with the screen filled with phrases and paragraphs at 220% their normal size I can spot errors that I would have missed on a "normal" screen. The fun thing with Word and others like it is that when you blow up the letters and words like that you're not zooming into pixels, you're creating higher resolution text. That's why I don't own a printer! I don't need printed pages to do revision drafts.

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