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Dell Inspiron 15 Touchscreen Windows 8.1 Laptop

OK, so I said I wasn’t going to buy a Windows 8 computer.  I was going to wait for Windows 10 this spring or summer.  Yeah, right.  Staples made me an offer I couldn’t resist.  They had this nice little laptop with a touch screen for a price I couldn’t resist.

I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it except that a client (thank you Glenda) bought one and had me come over to configure it.

I left her house and went to Staples and bought one.

Here is why:

  1. Windows 8.1 is really not as annoying as the original Windows 8 (especially if you have a touch screen).
  2. My client’s computer set up so easily, we were done in under an hour.  It even installed their fairly new printer all by itself without my having to use the CD driver.
  3. It navigates quickly.
  4. It is upgradable to 8 gigs of memory (a geek thing, we are always thinking about upgrades).
  5. I can justify it because I have enough clients with Windows 8 that I need a faster 8 machine to troubleshoot clients’ problems from home (and not look like a fool when I actually get to their houses).

So far, this is a very nice little machine.  I’m using it as my primary computer, though I still use the desktop for serious computing like re-creating this website.

I’ll post more info on it after I’ve done more with it.

 

Specifications:

  • It has HDMI out, so I can use it directly with television and Netflix next spring when Longmire, season 4 is on.
  • The screen is 15.6.  My only disappointment is that the resolution is fairly low.  At 1366x768, it is the same as that of my Samsung laptop that has an 11″ screen.  I have to admit that having things a little bigger is easier on the eyes, though.
  • It ships with 4gb of memory and is upgradable to 8gb if it becomes necessary.  I have discovered over the years that you can’t have too much memory in a computer because programs get more bloated every year requiring more and more memory to run.  That very expensive computer you bought in 2001 with Windows XP and 256mb of memory can barely run today because modern programs simply take more memory to function.
  • It has an i3 (4th gen) processor that feels about as fast as my 1st generation i7 on my desktop.
  • It is about 5 lbs, so it is lots heavier than my 11″ Ultrabook (1.5 lbs), so the smaller one will still travel with me.
  • The outside is a rougher finish that shouldn’t fingerprint as badly.

Review at 1 week:

Yesterday I set the computer to run as a user.  It wasn’t particularly difficult, but it did present a couple of challenges.  One of those is that Windows 8 requires you to use a Windows Live account in order to fully set up the computer.  You can create a local account, but some of the functions of Windows 8 don’t work as well (or at all).  You can’t use the “Store” app for instance, and since Windows 8 doesn’t ship with any games, if you want Solitaire, you have to go to the store to download it.  I have documented the process of setting up a second, Standard User account Here.  It is toward the middle of the page.

Since I had been using the machine for a week, I needed to copy or move my documents from my old account, and that was much easier than it had been earlier in Windows 7.

I have to admit that I really HATE the “modern” interface of the “Start” screen.  All those square corners and boxy icons are UGLY.  When using a mouse, the interface is very hard to navigate.

On the other hand, with a touch screen, it is really easy to slide the screen across to get to the tiles you want to use.  It is easy to personalize, and programs open well from there.  One of these days I’ll quit referring to it as “the dark side” of Windows 8.

The top image you are seeing here is what my screen looked like after the initialization before I changed the arrangement.  One of the nice things about this screen is that by touching a tile and holding it down, you can then drag it anywhere you want it.  You can delete tiles or add tiles for your favorite (Windows 8 compliant) applications.  In the lower screenshot, it looks much different.  I have put the icons I want to use on the left side of the table so that they are readily available.

I’ve found one thing I HATE about the way it handles apps, though.  One of my favorite utilities is the “Snipping Tool” first introduced in Windows Vista or 7 (not sure which).  It allows you to “draw a box” around anything on the screen and take a picture of it.  That app opens in the desktop, so you can’t take a snip of the Startup screen.  Fortunately, “print screen” still works for that, though.

Microsoft has prepared some tutorials to help you get going in Windows 8.  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/start-screen-tutorial  is the link to the 3rd in 11 tutorials.  If you are in the mood to explore, it is a good place to start.

Windows 8 screenshot
start screen customized