.\Matthew Long

{An unsorted collection of thoughts}

Posts Tagged ‘Dell’

That’s a very nice laptop, maybe just not so well built…

Posted by Matthew on April 8, 2009

For various different reasons, about a month ago I recently purchased a Dell Studio XPS 1340.  It’s a very sexy laptop, both in terms of hardware spec, features and looks.  I mean, it’s no Macbook, but it comes pretty close.  Backlit keyboard, Hybrid SLI, HDMI Out, more ram than you can shake a stick at.. all in a 13 inch laptop.  The keyboard is incredibly nice to type on, though I will admit it’s not a full size keyboard.

About the only thing it’s missing really is a blueray drive.. and the only reason it doesn’t have that is because it’s 16inch big brother has that (along with the aforementioned keyboard).

Sadly, straight out of the box it had a hardware fault – the DVD-RW drive wouldn’t accept any discs, as any that were placed into the slot were immediately ejected.  Considering this was happening at the post screen, even after a Bios / Firmware update (Seriously Dell, why don’t you update your machines in factory with the current stable release?  Especially for a premium top-spec product..) I knew there was a hardware fault and called support.

They told me it must be a faulty DVD drive (seemed reasonable) and said it would take 2 weeks to get an engineer with a replacement to me, as they had no parts.  Not really acceptable, but I was willing to let it slide because the DVD drive wasn’t a must have, and I had a USB DVD drive knocking around (which thankfully the bootloader recognised and allowed me to install Ubuntu – more on that later..).

So, after two weeks, the engineer arrives, replaces the drive… and it still doesn’t work.  After a bit of fiddling he notes that if you unplug the wire for the eject button on the keyboard, the drive accepts discs.  So now i need a new keyboard.  Except, while he is putting it all back together, he notes that the screen power cables weren’t seated properly when the whole thing was built, and once it is put together again, the display won’t function.  Brilliant.

Two days later, another engineer from Dell arrives.  He hasn’t been told to bring anything other than a keyboard.  Which he can’t get working.  And then, it won’t even power on anymore.  Now, Dell is told that if they don’t have it working in the next 24 hours, I want a refund.  Next engineer turns up, bringing enough parts to rebuild the whole thing, and finally gets it functioing.

So it finally works, and i couldn’t be happier with it.  I’ve installed x64 Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex) onto it, and hilariously the nVidia Ubuntu drivers are actually better than the current Vista ones for my card!  The only real issue thats left with it now is heat – this is one hot little laptop if you do what i’ve done and give it the maximum availible spec, and frankly the exhaust vent gets almost painfully hot if it needs to fire up the card’s full feature set.  So next time i’m running 2 Virtual Machines (courtesy of Virtual Box) and playing UT2004 on it at the same time, i’ll put it on a desk.

Oh, and despite the fact that it has 3 different kind of visual ports for outputting to screens, LCDs etc, it only has 1 USB port.  Which is a bit daft.

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