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A New Addition to the Greenberg Family

By Brian | February 28, 2007 | Share on Facebook

Well, it’s been about four years since we’ve made this kind of announcement, but here it is: after a great deal of thought, discussion, financial planning, and many months of waiting, we’re expecting a delivery. And as was the case the last couple of times this happened, it’s a Dell!

Specifically, a Dell XPS 410, which frees up the existing PC to make it’s way into Avery’s room in plenty of time for him to start using it for school (and video games and IM and web surfing and…and…and…)

(NOTE: The above is rather cheesy, but only because none of our parents read this blog regularly. If that weren’t the case, it would have been rather cruel.)

Anyway, serious geekticulars to follow. If that’s not your thing, abandon ship now. You have been warned.

Here are the highlights, including running commentary by yours truly:

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6600 (2.4GHz,1066FSB) with 4MB cache
CPU clock speed always has an obvious price point for me. The 2.4GHz was a little more expensive than the 2.2GHz, but a lot cheaper than the 2.6GHz – the highest that Dell offers. Plus, the Core 2 Duo has two processors on the chip, so if the mix of applications is right (or if a given application is written to take advantage of it), this thing could theoretically approach speeds close to 4.8GHz. More than likely, though, it’s likely to be about 50% faster than my current 1.9GHz machine.

4GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
Extravagant choice #1. Microsoft recommends 2GB for an optimized Vista experience. I’ve seen machines running Vista well with 1GB, and even a couple that made due with 512MB (a heavy app load would probably slow these machines down, but the advanced Vista features, like Aero, were still running). In any case, I figured more memory is never a bad thing, especially as the machine inevitably gets loaded up with add-ins, terminate & stay resident programs, hidden processes, etc. My current machine was a screamer when I bought it, but now it takes almost two minutes to open Microsoft Excel. The extra RAM should stave off this kind of degradation for a while.

24 in (24.0 in viewable) 2407FPW Wide Aspect Digital Flat Panel Display
Extravagant Choice #2. For this, I blame John Scalzi, who bought one of these puppies and then bragged about it on his blog. Not only is this puppy 24 inches of widescreen goodness, it rotates to portrait mode, providing oodles of space for web surfing, or for when my wife (or I) are writing long documents in Word.

Of course, now that we bought this, it occurs to me that in our home office, we have a 24″ Hi-Def screen with surround sound (see below), a DVD-player, and a dual-TV tuner. In our den, where we watch most of our TV & DVD’s today, we have a 27″ TV from 1994, when Picture-in-Picture was a really big deal. I’m seriously thinking about putting a couch in the office soon…

Dell WL6000 120V 6.1 Stereo Speakers with Subwoofer
The last machine I bought had surround sound as well (certified by Skywalker Sound, no less), but the speakers all shipped with those (proprietary) Sony plugs, and all the wires were the same length. There was no easy way to put the rear speakers behind me, unless I spliced the wires and installed new plugs, so I’ve been living with 5 speakers spread around my desk (rear ones on the outer edge, surrounding the standard L&R, and then the center speaker under the monitor). This time around, the rear speakers are wireless, so I can go ahead and mount them on the back wall of my office for a true surround sound experience. Anyone know where I can buy a good couch?

256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS
Nothing but the best, Clark. I’m not a big user of Vista’s celebrated graphics capabilities, but given similar pricing, I went with a high-end graphics card.

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
Extravagant Choice #3. Vista Home Premium would probably have been enough, but I’m anticipating the mystery software package that’s coming in 2009 which only runs on Vista Ultimate. As I discussed here, I want to avoid upgrading/updating the OS once the machine is up and running, so I went for it.

320GB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive (7200RPM)
500 GB 7200 RPM LAN USB 2.0 LinkStation Pro Shared Network Storage

The presence of two machines in the house means I can start using my wireless router for more than just accessing my work laptop throughout the house, which in turn, means shared network storage. The 500GB drive is a Buffalo drive, which can plug directly into the router, allowing access to files even in the rare event where my desktop PC is off. My current plan is to install my software on each machine, but have it all point to the Buffalo drive as the main shared drive in the house. The 320GB hard drive (the smallest Dell offers these days), will serve as a backup drive. I’m still investigating backup software solutions, so if anyone has any suggestions, please drop them in the comments. Thanks!

3 Year Limited Warranty
Dell Hardware Warranty PlusOnsite Service, Initial Year
Dell Hardware Warranty PlusOnsite Service, Extended Year
Type 15- 3rd Party At Home Service w/ Nights and Week ends, 24×7 Technical Support, Initial Year
Type 15- 3rd Party At Home Service w/ Nights and Week ends, 24×7 Technical Support, 2 Year Extended
Warranty Support,Initial Year
Warranty Support,2 Year Extended
CompleteCare Accidental DamageProtection, Dimension, 3 Year
Dell On Call, 30 Days, Getting Started Assistance, Unlimited Incidents

Yeah, I know – that’s a lot of help for a desktop PC, right? I’m not a big believer in extended warranties for PC’s because typically, a machine either craps out in the first few months or lasts forever with little or no problems. In this case, adding all these packages brought me up to the next “bundle,” which actually lowered the total cost of the PC. Basically, I just did it for the money

Dell USB Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard with USB Hub
Dell 13 in 1 Media Card Reader
Dual TV Tuner with Remote Control

Silly stuff, but what the heck. I don’t have a separate Cable TV feed running into the PC, but one day I might. Also, the media card reader might come in handy with my digital camera, and the volume knob & DVD controls on the keyboard are just convenient…

There’s more, but that’s the gist. As for price, the whole thing came in just under $3,000 (that includes Dell’s discounts du jour, as well as a corporate discount my employer has negotiated with Dell). The ironic thing is, the last three computers I’ve purchased, over a period of six or seven years, have all cost roughly $2,500 (give or take a few hundred dollars). The capacity of those machines, though, has grown exponentially (the first of the three had roughly the processing power and storage of my current iPod). So yes, technology has become cheaper, but practically speaking, it’s more accurate to say it’s become better.

Now, the setup begins. Watch this space for ISBS reviews of Vista, thoughts on setting up wireless networking, home network filesharing, and much, much more!

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