New computer, first notebook

I have held off buying a new computer for years. Since I started work in 1989, I have bought a Mac Classic, a Motorola Starmax, a no-name 486 box from a friend, a Gateway PC (with a Celeron processor), and a ex-lease IBM ThinkCenter with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4. The only machine that was ever top of the line was the brand spanking new Motorola Starmax. The rest have all been way behind the curve.

So, as you can see, for someone in the computer industry (whatever that is) I seem to have personal equipment that lags that at my work place. The Celeron box had awful graphics until I kitted it out with a PCI (not express) GFX card. The ThinkCenter got a GFX upgrade with a dual port (bottom end) AGP card.

Not that GFX matter to me. I am not a gamer. Every now and then I think a game will interest me but always end up disappointed with the demo. For me, what I want is more pixels on the screen. I started work with a 80×25 text screen. My first workstation was a 1152×900 pixels. Since then it has been 1280×1024 at a minimum. My PCI-equipped Gateway was capable of 1600×1200 and the original 19-inch Gateway monitor was actually capable of supporting that. This is amazing for a circa 2000-era monitor.

So, after holding off for years, I finally decided to buy myself a decent computer. I was fed up with slowness. I was hoping for a cheap quad core but would be happy with dual core anything. At least that is what I told myself.

This move had been facilitated by an understanding partner who had upgraded a while back with a Dell Vostro sporting a T8300. It was further enabled by moving from a financially insecure job at one company to another company that was making a profit and had been for many years. I no longer had to hold back, just in case.

My first port of  call was Dell. My partner had scored a great deal 18 months before and was very happy with the Vostro. Dell always has better equipment at a better price than those on the high street. So, off to Dell I went.

And there was a really great bargain. A notebook, great graphics, high resolution display (1600×900) and a i7-720M CPU. Add in a $200-off price special and is came out at $1899. These were Aussie dollars but that looked great. Unfortunately, that $200-off special wasn’t available in NZ. It was part of a end-of-financial-year incentive for Australia. I got in touch with some guy at Dell Australia regarding that, hoping [against hope] that he might be able to get me a one-off special in NZ. No such chance.

So, I went back to the high street and their bloody awful, low end products.

I had a look in the Sony shop and saw a truly stunning 14-inch 1080p device for $2399. However, that was a bit too pricey for me. I had a ceiling of $2000 (NZ dollars this time) and I didn’t really want to get anywhere near that if I could. I did see a $1899 Sony that had a i5-520M cpu and a 1600×900 screen on a 17-inch display. It looked nice but I wanted a bit more bang for the buck. That price tag was a bit too rich for me and my measly NZ dollars.

So, I left things for another week. I waited for a new deal to appear at Dell. One was bound to happen in the next month or so. The chance of a great deal at the end of September was going to be really good since October 1st is when GST (good & sales tax) increases from 12.5% to 15%. Anyway, I decided to wait.

And then a week later I saw a special 4 day offer at PC Global and Noel Leeming for 20% off all Sony products.

So, off to PC global I took myself. That i5-520 model was looking like an excellent deal at $1519. Unfortunately they didn’t have a new one in stock. I did not want the display model that everyone had been playing with unless I could get a bit more discount but that 20% off was as far as they could go so off I went to Noel Leeming on Moorhouse Avenue.

I had a quick look around the Sony notebook display area and could not see the model I wanted so I asked an assistant if they had a VPCF1115FGB in stock? He typed some magic into their stock control system and told me they had a few out the back. I said I’d take one and 5 minutes later I was the owner of a brand new, untouched Sony VPCF1115FGB. The saleman told me he had sold lots of them in the past week and they have never had one on display all week.

So, how has it been since I bought it?

Far, far better than I believed possible.

I was a steadfast desktop user and had been for years. Yet I find this (not so) little notebook a joy to use. The keyboard is so much better that I thought it could be. Having a bigger display panel means I also get a numeric keypad. I am still trying to get to grips with the way the scrollbar part of the touch pad works but it all seems good.

The battery life is as good as I could expect for a 6-cell pack. Not that it bothers me too much. However, a longer power cord between the wall and the transformer would have been nice. Having said that I was amazed to find all 4 plugs and cables for the transformer in the box when I opened it. I suppose Sony finds it cheaper to ship the lot than have it all sorted out at the factory. Other manufacturers don’t seem to do this.

Windows 7 Home Premium is good enough for all my needs. Whilst I may be a Linux user at work I am no longer as one-eyed about what I use at home. In any event, it will be easier to stick with Windows in my one year warranty should anything untoward happen.

The Sony VPCF115FGB may be a bit pricey at $1899 but at $1519 it’s a definite bargain.

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