Sunday, February 24, 2008

Technology Owns.

In mid-February, I purchased a laptop. I had planned to just get a very basic computer that would suffice for maybe a year or so, until I bought an uber-PC, probably a desktop. Turns out I got far more than I had hoped for and got a pretty darn good deal on it, as well. I hadn't been this excited to buy something since back in October of 2000, when I had to wait line for midnight to arrive so I could be one of the first people in the area to own a PlayStation 2. Don't laugh; it was an important release... honest.

I spent many hours searching online, comparing specs and prices from a few manufacturers and retailers. I went with an HP Pavilion because that's what I've grown accustomed to lately. I have used a Hewlett-Packard for a little while now, and I've been somewhat impressed by the quality of the computer, for lack of a better explanation. The screen itself seemed nicer in comparison to any of the computers I've ever used. While shopping around I found that in my opinion the overall construction of the HP laptops felt... sturdier, I suppose.

I finally settled on the specific model I wanted only to find that not only was it sold out online at the main retailers, but that the local stores had none in stock either! I have worked for Best Buy in the past, so I asked a manager and former co-worker of mine to search around for me. He managed to find me the very last one in the four-state area and had it shipped to his store so I could pick it up. I was pumped, to say the least. A few days later I picked it up and bought myself a spiffy laser mouse (I hate touchpads). I didn't need an external keyboard because I have a full keyboard complete with numberpad. This was no accident.

I have a 17-inch widescreen high-definition display, which is awesome for watching video. Coupled with more RAM than I will probably ever need and a dual-core processor, I can multi-task with ease and keep the various program windows on-screen and in view at the same time. For instance, having a browser window open with other, smaller windows along the side. Not a thrilling story to tell by any means, but with me it's the little things that really matter. Spec sheets aside, having minor conveniences impresses as much as anything else.

I was somewhat disappointed to get stuck with Windows Vista, preferring that it had come with XP. However, while I think it's better to have adopted the new operating system later (when the kinks are worked out), I haven't hated it as much as I thought I would. In addition, I can and probably will be soon adding XP to the computer as well. I have it already and just need to install it. Vista is pretty to look at and in some ways I prefer some of the smaller details, but for sheer functionality and compatibility with current software, it would have been better to end up with the already-established XP. I'll live.

This laptop is adequately designed as the "entertainment PC" it claims to be. As mentioned above, the screen resolution makes for quality gaming and video display. My graphics card provides ability to finally dig into some PC games, which I have yet to explore much in my gaming career. With the hard drive space I've got (lots), I am able to store plenty of movies. I've already taken to making copies of my DVDs so I can quickly access some of my favorites without a need for the discs. My iPod enjoys the new laptop as well, with plenty of space to store and manage music. I love having music going all the time.

It came with a TV tuner card, which allows me to watch & record television right on the computer. I hadn't realized that these were even made, but it came with the machine so I was all for it. In addition, I can watch Blu-Ray movies on this laptop, and I must say that they look very nice indeed. (Go-go Blu-Ray, domination of HD-DVD all but complete!) I'm enjoying having everything at my fingertips, and games have been interesting to play with a mouse-keyboard setup as opposed to a controller like I'm accustomed to using.

Web browsing is of course the bread-and-butter of most people's computing experience, I would assume. There isn't much to tell on this front other than the ability to fit a few different windows on my screen at once so I can flip back and forth between them at will. I also like leaving my Gmail open pretty much around the clock. My laptop has a built-in webcam and microphone for communication as well. These are nice additions for keeping in touch.

I've already learned a lot and intend to keep trying out new things and getting into exactly how computers work as time goes on. Now that I have a functional tool to work with, I can experiment to my heart's content. I spent quite a bit of time researching and removing various software that had been pre-loaded on the machine. Starting from an almost-clean slate, I know what belongs and what doesn't, for the most part. I'm trying to keep a good eye on the performance and keep everything running smoothly. With a little (read: plenty of) help from my friends and some studying of my own, I've figured out quite a few new things I hadn't tried or heard of before buying this machine. It's been a lot of fun.

So far so good, 'cause I love my new laptop. It's a convergence of convenience and power, and the entertainment value is high for me. Its tech won't last me forever, but it'll bridge the gap until I care enough to go for more, and certainly will make a nice sidekick computer for use as a secondary screen or for portable purposes later, assuming I have a desktop for most of my usage.

Here are a couple pics of what the computer itself looks like. These don't show the finish on the casing, which is actually very sleek and stylish. I like it, anyhow. Sleek black with a silver inside, and backlit control panels using that cool blue LED light color. Gotta love it.

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