Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New laptop

I just got my new laptop through in the mail. I heard that Dell was retailing laptops with Ubuntu preinstalled, so I thought I'd give it a try. Here's a brief review.


I went for the absolute minimum on all hardware options, and it doesn't seem to have done me any harm. The system is very fast and responsive. The keyboard is nice and clicky. The touchpad is a pain in the ass cos I keep banging into it, but that's true of every laptop I've ever used.

One concern I have is that I think one of my speakers just spontaneously blew out while I was writing this. I'm hoping it's just a glitch that'll correct itself.


Ubuntu is - as always - a very nice system. The only problem I've had so far is wireless connectivity. My family's ActionTec router has an odd feature: as well as entering the WEP hex key, you have to enter a key number from 1 to 4. This is not supported in the Ubuntu user interface. There's apparently some way to make it work via command-line wizardry, but I'd really rather not.

Fortunately, apparently all I need to do is set the key number on the router to 1. Unfortunately, this has given my dad, who is a Windows geek, an opportunity to be irritatingly smug.

One slight tweak that would have been nice would be if the good folks at Dell had configured the regional information before sending it to me. I had to choose timezone and keyboard layout. This wasn't a problem for me, but someone who didn't know what the different keyboard layouts were might have had trouble. Also, Firefox's spell-checker was set to German for some reason.


Generally a nice system, and fully useable for normal people. This is a laptop that your granny can use, if you spend a whole 5 minutes setting it up for her. And she'll probably enjoy the selection of simple games, too.

A couple of annoying niggles, but nothing life-threatening (apart from the possible speaker failure, which I'm willing to chalk up to bad luck). I hereby give this system an initial mark of 7 out of 10. Not bad for a bottom-of-the-range gizmo like this.

No comments: