OK. First of all thanks for the props on the review style CatFan. Rock On.
Ohhhhh baby…..what a laptop.
Delivery = A
Delivery was flawless, sort of. The unit has arrived three weeks early. I was supposed to get it on December 9. How can I really bitch when it comes three weeks early. However, it was supposed to ship via overnight air on the day after Thanksgiving and it was shipped ground so it got delayed by three days until the following Monday. Anyways....still early and boxed great as usual from Dell.
Look & Feel = A+
The computer is big, no getting around that. However, I am 6'4" and weigh 210 pounds, so it is actually regular size for me. I typically use it sitting on my desk or on my nice laptop stand, so size doesn’t matter when it is used in that functionality. However, I like being able to carry it around too and it is not that much bigger or heavier than the Dell 8600. Any increase in size or weight is easily surpassed by the fact that the laptop looks sharp and professional. This week I took it to two client meetings and that is all I carried. Each time I entered into the office the everyone would say "Wow, now that’s a nice laptop." Put simply, this is the best laptop I have seen. When comparing this to the Dell 8600, there is no comparison. This thing is rock solid. The Dell 8600 squeaks, cracks, and bends when you play with it. The 9200 could be thrown around like a toy and probably still work. The metal case is perfect and I like the lighter colors - white and silver, instead of dark gray and blue.
Sound = A+
Sound is great. I am no audiophile, so sound is meaningless to me. However, the sub woofer is a good surprise and my video games sound really good (BF 1942, Call of Duty). The only issue is that if you are playing the games with the laptop on your lap, you get an odd surprise every once in awhile when the subwoofer comes on and puts a blast of air into your lap. Of course, for some people that may be a pleasant surprise.
WUXGA+ Screen = A+
The screen is perfect. I got the upgraded screen and it is well worth it. It’s not the glossy finish that I really wanted from Dell, similar to the Toshiba G15 or Sony A series, but its just as good. The games are bright and most importantly the colors are great for web design. There is a huge difference between a 15.4" laptop on 1920 pixels wide versus a 17" laptop with 1920 pixels wide. Icons are bigger and you can still open up as many windows (basically two full programs side by side and sometimes three).
Keyboard = A
Keyboard is fine. I would like to see a keypad in a later model, but of course then the laptop would not look as nice. I guess I would have to see both as I don’t really use the keypad that much. After using this thing for a week, I have started to hear some squeeking from the keyboard. Nothing major, just a few keys that are breaking in I figure. Otherwise the keyboard is perfect size and location.
Graphics & Video Games = A+
Graphics are flawless. I have only played BF 1942 – Forgotten Hope edition, of course, for about 15 minutes, but I can shoot better and everything looks crisper. I will need to test on more games, but since this is an upgraded 8600 with a bit faster graphics cards (ATI Mobile 9700 vs the 9600) and a faster processor (2.0 Dothan vs. the 1.8 Centrino), I expect great things.
Battery life = A
I got the 9 cell and can confirm that it boots up and reads 4.5 hours of life in the setting. If you turn off everything, you probably can get over 5 hours on a low screen settings. I have never burned it all the way down, of course that is a lot of use in a row – I probably will on my next trip. For games, I expect to get about 2 or more hours. I will post an update when I test it fully. One thing I would like to note is that the new software disables certain things that I never use, such as the network card (not the WiFi) when not in use, thus saving power. Very Cool.
Noise Factor = A+
This thing is quite. Nuff said. The fan comes on every once in awhile, but you cannot really hear it.
Software = A
Typical stupid software I had to delete (AOL, Earthlink, and a few other programs). However, I have a feeling everyone deletes software when they get their new computer. Took about 4 hours to transfer all my files from my Dell 8600. That is the worst part of transferring files. I did it manually to get it just right, plus I had to remove content and programs from the previous computer. I do like a couple of new features. The first is that when I disable WiFi or sound, I get nice screen prompts. Nothing major, but its nice to see what setting I am instead of having to guess.
Overall = A + +
Best lap top on the market. Period. It plays games, does graphics, and at about 7 to 8 pounds the thing is light enough to travel. The music is great, the screen is bright, and everything is put together well. It’s almost as if Dell read my 8600 review when creating this laptop.