Dell D830 Review

Leanne-sorry this is a little late, but I’ve been busy.

In october 2004, I bought an IBM (Lenovo) T42p, which at the time was the most tricked out laptop available.  it was as solid as the Obelisk, a sleek black slab, with metal hinges and a feeling about it from watching all those commercials where they drop the notebook.  And it was fast, and had a super bright 1600×1200 screen, and that brilliant keyboard light.  It was a major step up from my puny Sony Vaio.

Before going on bike and build, I traded the thinkpad to dad, for a promised new machine–good deal, I love you dad!

Upon my return to civilian life, I started looking for a replacement.  Lenovo no longer offered the 1600×1200 screen, and didn’t have any laptops with a big enough 7200r/min drive–both requirements for me. so I bought a Dell Latitude D830, with all the trimmings.

The D830 came spec’d out with:
a 1920×1200 widescreen, 256mb nvidia video adapter,
2gb ram
7200rpm 120gb HD
DVD burner
fingerprint scanner
Vista Business

The D830 is good, it’s fast, and stable (now that I have a vista compatible version of Adobe Acrobat).  But it just isn’t overawing.  The 7200 r/min drive is fast, machine easily handles running photoshop, illustrator and word at the same time- pretty much the acid test (especially now that I have a D80 which produces giant image files to push around).  The sound system, with speakers on the sides of the keyboard, is vastly superior to the thinkpad’s minuscule speakers on the front bezel.  the keyboard quality is pretty good, and the touchpad is pretty good as well, and the fingerprint scanner is a welcome addition.  The battery life is excellent, and it doesn’t get too hot on the bottom.  Unfortunately, the hinge just doesn’t seem to be very solid-the screen moves a little when typing on a less than stable surface (like this airplane tray table).  There is a logo on a key indicating there is a keyboard light, but it doesn’t do anything.  there is an ambient light sensor to adjust the screen brightness in real time, but it’s not all that useful.  The physical wifi switch and wifi finder is a great feature, superior to the software switch on the lenovo.

The 1920×1200 screen, which was a defining feature, turns out to be a mixed blessing.  great for seeing large images at real size, but you really have to lean in to see it–not good from an ergonomics perspective.

Verdict: good, but not perfect

The good:

  • relatively large (120gb) drive running at 7200 r/min (now available from Lenovo–of course the feature I want comes out a week after I ordered the Dell–and Lenovo offers factory installedTurbo Memory cache as well)
  • IEEE 1394 (firewire) port (seems to not work properly with my hard drive
  • Wifi finder that works without powering up the machine
  • Expresscard 54 slot and PCMCIA slot
  • useful numlock key (on the lenovo it is shift+scroll lock, not intelligent)
  • super battery life (6h on normal use)
  • great overall performance

The not so good

  • screen resolution is too high- the text is pretty tiny!
  • no keyboard light (and has a maddening logo for one that doesn’t do anything)
  • no SD memory card reader slot
  • no turbo memory cache (upgraded with 1GB FCM)

Hope this helps your buying decisions!


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