After several weeks of extensive research trying to find the right laptop for me, I finally decided to buy the Dell XPS M1530. I was looking for a computer with good performance (that could handle heavy multitasking) and with a dedicated graphics card for my image and video processing needs. Since this would be my main computer (both for personal and professional use), I had to find balance between mobility and screen size. A 14.1 inch screen would have been ideal, but I couldn’t find one that met all my other requirements, as well as my budget. So I ended up sticking with a 15.4 inch screen.
I researched most of the mainstream brands. Both my previous laptops had been HPs and I had never had any problems with them, but I wanted to try a different brand this time. Besides, I didn’t find an HP matching my requirements either. Style wise, I was very inclined to buying a Sony Vaio, but the cost-benefit of the configuration I needed wasn’t exactly good.
The Dell XPS M1530 matched pretty much all of my requirements, so I went ahead and made my first Dell purchase.
Buying through Dell.com:
Simple, intuitive, straightforward. Great customer support – except for a sales person trying to force the purchase through the phone when I called to ask a simple question (and this had been explained to her). The online support chat, however, was flawless: friendly, helpful and not pushy.
- Note: 9/10, the pushy sales person got on my nerves!
Also flawless. I placed a customized order on February 4th (in the evening), the laptop was at my door on February 10th (in the morning). So it took roughly 5 days between ordering, customized production, shipping and delivery. And that was through ground shipping – that I got for free, by the way.
- Note: 10/10
Expectations vs. reality, first impressions:
Some things matched my expectations, others did not. Here are my overall impressions at this point – keep in mind I’ve only been using the laptop for 3 days:
Performance: exactly as I expected it to be. My XPS came with:
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9300 (2.5GHz/800Mhz FSB, 6MB Cache)
- 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
- 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT
- 500GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
- Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 64-bit
I have yet to test video and image processing capabilities, but so far the XPS has been handling multitasking beautifully. I haven’t pushed it to really heavy multitasking yet, but so far so good. Very fast.
Weight: even though the laptop weight is stated in the specs when you buy it, I expected the XPS to be lighter than it actually is. My fault, not Dell’s: I didn’t take the time to convert pounds into kilograms.
Keyboard: at first I didn’t quite like the look and feel of the keyboard. It has metal keys, spaced wider than what I was used to. I usually prefer really smooth, more short spaced, flat thin plastic keys (like the Sony Vaios have). After a few days now, though, I got used to it and I’m actually quite enjoying it.
Integrated Webcam and Mic: it came with a 2MP integrated webcam (+ Dell webcam software) and mic. They both work very well, although the image gets very grainy at night, under artificial light.
Fingerprint reader: you must first go through the setup process, but it’s a one time thing – unless you want to make changes or add users. It takes a little bit of practice to get it right, but I’m finding the fingerprint reader very useful – not to mention it adds an extra security layer depending on how you choose to use it.
Touch sensitive media controls: work wonderfully and look beautiful.
Touchpad: works smooth and perfectly.
Style/Look and feel: the XPS is very stylish and beautiful, although I wouldn’t mind a more feminine touch. The available color options were Tuxedo Black, Midnight Blue and Flamingo Pink. I ordered the Midnight Blue – I wouldn’t mind a more feminine touch, but the pink was too inappropriate for my professional needs.
They also offer a (Product) Red XPS, but apparently it’s a different line – and despite their claim that it costs the same, a simulation using the same specs I had for the Midnight Blue resulted in a more expensive (Product) Red laptop when I tried it. This was a little disappointing, because the red would have been perfect for me. But I didn’t see a point in spending more money on a color. Especially when there are other ways to skin it and make it unique.
Extras: I had seen some video reviews from people who had bought this laptop and, maybe coincidentally, all of them received a free simple laptop case with it. I guess I assumed they came with all XPS orders, but I didn’t get one, so this was a little disappointing too. Again, probably my fault and not Dell’s.
Software: I was very happy to see that this laptop didn’t come bloated with annoying and unnecessary ads and programs (something that annoyed me in the HPs I bought in the past). I’m also enjoying the few Dell proprietary software.
Other issues: the bottom of the laptop came with a “mis-screwed” part. All the screws were there, but the “lid” was sticking out as if it didn’t fit. This was easily solved by unscrewing and re-screwing the lid, but I was surprised that this got through their quality control without being noticed and/or fixed.
Screen resolution: I ordered a high resolution glossy widescreen LCD. Under 1440×900 resolution, the image is perfect. Trying to change the display settings to 1280×800 causes the screen to get blurry and I haven’t yet figured out why or how to solve this. If anyone can help me on this one, please leave a comment.
Obviously, I haven’t had enough time at this point to fully explore all the features and capabilities of the XPS M1530 yet. Overall I’m pretty happy with this laptop so far, except for the minor issues mentioned in this review.
- Note: 9/10.
Now a new journey begins: finding the right “mini”. I’m very inclined to buying an EeePC. Thoughts?