The new laptop arrived a couple weeks ago.
Physically, it's pretty nice. The screen can become way too bright, and the LED back-lighting coupled with the glossy screen makes for some incredibly high contrast, smooth images. The barrel hinge for the LCD is an excellent feature, adding tons of stability and firmness to the display. The travel on the keys is a little farther than I'd like, being used to Apple laptop and desktop keyboards now, but not overly offensive. The webcam is servicable, the speakers moderately decent, and the mic is good. The slot-loaded DVD drive is obnoxiously loud when loading and removing discs.
On the software side, it came with some crap-ware on it, but the level has dramatically decreased since my last Dell purchase (3.5 years ago with the original Dell XPS, again inspired by a $799-off coupon). Even so, it came with Windows Vista Home Premium, which in no way had a shot at being my final OS. It also came with a very nice leather binder to hold the manuals and installation CDs, plus a carrying case which really only serves to keep dust off the thing. I already had my Size 6T Horizontal Brain Cell in hand, so it'll never get used.
I deleted all 3 (!) partitions from the main disk and paved it clean with Windows Server 2008 Standard, the ISO having been freshly released to MSDN just a couple days earlier. With a little finessing, I was able to get all the Vista drivers to work just fine with Win2K8, although the Bluetooth has been finicky. I then installed the Usual Suspects: Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite (with TestDriven.net, Refactor! Pro, DPack, and GhostDoc, plus my dark Visual Studio theme), SQL Server 2005, Office 2007 Enterprise. PowerShell is of course already built-in, so I just had to enable it (along with IIS for web app development).
Interested in the performance of the 64GB solid-state hard drive, I decided to time some of the normally long installations:
- Visual Studio 2008 - 9.5 minutes
- SQL Server 2005 - 7 minutes
- SQL Server 2005 SP2 - 4 minutes
Those were some pretty impressive numbers. I remember more than one person telling me the installation time for .NET 3.5 alone could take up to an hour on a Vista machine, so seeing it scream through that in 30 seconds was quite satisfying. :)
I also timed some compiles and test runs against my work desktop box w/ dual 7200 RPM drives, and the single SSD pretty much destroyed it. Compile times were cut in half, despite the fact that the laptop has a slightly slower CPU (Core 2 Duo @ 2.2GHz vs. the desktop's Core 2 Quad @ 2.4GHz). After compressing my data drive, the compile times cut down an additional 15-25%.
I'm making a note here: huge success!