Originally uploaded by aghrivaine
Yesterday I finally received my new laptop. My old Gateway desktop has been a sturdy and reliable workhorse since about 2002. But it's been making ominous noises for a while now, and it was time for a replacement. I initially considered a new desktop - but then I realized since I spend a fair amount of time up in pyr8queen's house, it made more sense to get a desktop-replacement style laptop that I could leave plugged in on the desk at home most of the time, but take with me for on the road or up at pyr8queen's place.
I looked around a lot, but finally settled on the Alienware Area-51 M9750. In retrospect, I should have waited a week and gotten the M17, which is functionally the same with some updated features, like true HDMI output, a better webcam, fingerprint ID, and some other geegaws that, while unimportant, are cool. And cool is part of what I'm looking for in a laptop, dammit.
It arrived in a featureless black box. I opened the featureless black box to reveal... ANOTHER featureless black box! But inside THAT featureless black box was the laptop itself. Initial set up was very smooth - Alienware charges a premium price, but you get reliability and performance for it. It came with recovery disks and copious documentation. I had it up and ticking along (sadly with Vista, which I hate, bitterly) very shortly.
It's a 17" WUXGA screen, which means that it's very high resolution and handles HD media natively. I kitted it out with dual Nvidia graphics cards, 2gb of ram, a 1.6ghz Dual Core processor, a 160gb hard drive, and a Blu-Ray optical drive.
I also got a Belkin high-speed docking station that would make it easy to slip in and out when I wanted to go - through the Express Card port it handles video, audio, network, and USB. However, the USB ports didn't work at all, rendering the keyboard and mouse useless (see my last entry). It handled the video fine, but the audio inputs were digital only - so it wouldn't output to either my computer speakers or home theater system, and the Belkin preempts the laptop's internal audio, so it just didn't work it all. Basically, it was worse than useless. I'm sending the Belkin back.
That means, however, that i have to plug and unplug video, network, speakers, mouse, power and keyboard every time I want to move the laptop. Bugger. Worse, the native video didn't recognize my LCD tv as a valid output for multi-monitor. But I fixed that by updating the video driver from Alienware's website, which has all the most recent drivers, as well as beta versions. That fixed it.
The image is very crisp, and it ran World of Warcraft with many settings maxed and still looked great. Blu-Ray movies (Dark Knight in this case) were likewise crisp on both the laptop and output to the TV. It's hot, and it looks like an alien. Sort of like pyr8queen. It puts out a lot of heat from the back (also like pyr8queen) but is whisper-quiet. (unlike pyr8queen ) The exterior is matte black and somewhat rubberized (just like pyr8queen) so that it won't take fingerprints. The keyboard is full-sized and comfortable to type on.
So yeah, new laptop!