Daily Archives: June 5, 2007

Dell Inspiron 6400 – Part 2

This is part two of the series on my laptop. We had already seen about the build and the hardware in part 1. Before we look at the OS, lets have a peek at the laptop specifications.

Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo Processor T5300 (2MB Cache, 1.73GHz, 533MHz FSB)
Genuine Windows VistaTM Home Premium
Intel® 945GM Chipset
1 GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2X512MB)
120GB1 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
15.4″ Wide Screen XGA TFT Display (1280×800 res.)
4 USB Ports (2.0), Integrated IEEE1394 Port
6 Cell 53Whr Lithium Ion Primary Battery
Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945 Network Connection 802.11a/g
Integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 945 Up to 224MB shared system memory
Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945 Network Connection 802.11a/g
Integrated Stereo Sound w/ subwoofer
DVD Burner

Now lets look at the OS

    1. General: As the name implies, the version that was bundled (on request, else it would have been Windows Vista Home Basic). The OS at first look was pretty solid and looked good. But first looks deceive. The OS has been considerably dumbed down compare to the previous releases of the OS. Easy tasks like changing icon for a file type has been completely removed from the Folder Options dialog. Now one has to do a Registry setting to change the icon for a particular file type. This is a serious annoyance to developers like me since distinguishing the file types becomes difficult. I tried the add a new Key called DefualtIcon registry hack suggested on so many Windows forums but it did not work for me. Then there is another place in the control panel which lets the user to change the default association of file types with programs. Here again, you can only change the program. There is no way to change the description of a file type. Such small things may not mean a lot to many people, but considering the name of the OS, at least there should have been a way to do it.

    2. Aero: I am really not sure why so much hype was given to Aero. I agree, the interface is quite nice, shiny progress bars, maximize, restore and close buttons that light up when you hover your mouse over them, thumbnails when you hover your mouse on an open program in the taskbar, transparency everywhere. But if this is the criteria for selling an OS, then I am disappointed. There aren’t even a couple of other themes included save for a bunch of wallpapers.

    3. Start Menu: In one word. Bad to Worse. Navigating through a lot of layers of menus was painful. Now you have to either scroll to open the program you want or type the name of the program in the search box. <sarcasm>Wonderfully use friendly</sarcasm>

    4. IE: Well, most of us already know what it is capable of. So I got Firefox installed.

    5. Networking: Just worked out for me.

    6. User Access Control: Those pesky dialogs which popup whenever you try to run a third party app that has not been certified by MS. You can easily disable this from the Control Panel. But thats not the end to it. A red shield sits in the system tray and keeps popping out a bubble saying that you are strongly recommended to turn on UAC.

    7. Windows Components: Windows Explorer has been redesigned and the icons for folders and a few common files like images, music have be done again. They are neat and pretty. Windows Explorer is also a pleasure to use. Additional programs like Windows Calendar, Windows Email, Windows DVD Maker have been included. I have not tried the email client. Both Calendar and DVD Maker are usable. Calendar is again dumbed down version of the MS Office Outlook Calendar. In MS Office Outlook I can double click on the calendar area and instantly create an appointment or a task with as many details as I wish. But here you could just enter the title and then edit the item in the sidebar.

    8. Control Panel: That another mess. Too many icons spoil the panel. But fortunately you can switch over to the classic versions of the Control Panel. Which on is better. Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features? Hm. Well again, everyone may not agree with me. I found the former easier.

    9. Security: MS made sure that this was their most secure Windows ever. But they still let users login without a password. I agree you can do this in Linux as well. Windows Defender, Windows Firewall are built into the OS now. I did not get a chance to check them out.

    10. Windows Media Center: No complaints here. Everything worked well except for the small quirk that the songs took a whole three seconds before they started playing and the same was noticed when I clicked the Next button. However, when I ran Windows Media Player as a separate application, sometimes it struggled to play the songs. The output was jarred for a song that plays well when used with Winamp.

Ok. So much for the OS. If there is something I may have missed, let me know, so that I can check out those features as well.