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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dell Home - evening of revelry and entertainment

Thanks to XPR, I was invited to an event by Dell, teasingly called "An evening of revelry and entertainment". I thought that it'd be a time of fun and games, especially since it was held in an apartment at a prestigious condominium, Scotts Highpark, near the Newton MRT station.

It turned out to be more like a regular ol' house party, except that it was hosted by Dell Asia Pacific and there were several Dell and Alienware laptops placed in the rooms. Since it was held at 7pm (I arrived fashionably late at 7:30pm), my tummy was rumbling, so I headed straight for the buffet.

While eating, I wandered around the four-room apartment (one big hall/dining area and three bedrooms) to survey what was available. The house had clearly been decked out to showcase how Dell's computers fit with the needs and wants of every member of the modern family.

  • In "Bree's Kitchen", there was also a touchscreen computer, Inspiron One, that had an Excel spreadsheet of the family budget and a browser window showing
  • "Michael's Room" was decked out to be the typical male gamer's room, with high-end Alienware desktop and laptop computers.
  • The next one was "Bernadette's Room", where the "daughter" lounged on her bed with a Dell laptop and she commented (no doubt through a script) on how she liked the colour and feel of her Inspiron laptop.
  • Finally, there was "Dennis' Study", where the man of the house was with his Inspiron One touchscreen desktop, browsing the stock market and other websites.
Finally, there were three Dell laptops and three Alienware laptops in the hall for attendees to play with. There was also a big flatscreen hung on the other end of the hall. When I arrived, it had a message about being ready to use with an "Intel Wireless Connect" device. About an hour-and-a-half later, it still had the same message. Clearly, this was supposed to be a demonstration that no one had figured out to, well, demonstrate.

So I did. Only one Inspiron 15R in the hall had Intel Wireless Connect. I pressed a button in the program, and -- voila! -- whatever was on the laptop's screen was now shown on the TV as well. I played a few videos, and that's when people started to realize what was going on, and the PR folks jumped in to explain the setup. I casually walked away to let others be wowed.

While the screen sharing was supposed to be real-time, I noticed that the TV would display about a half-second after what was on the laptop. I guess that's as close to real-time as is possible, given the state of today's wireless communications. But video playback was definitely smooth on both screens with no jerkiness. I think that's more of a credit to Intel's software rather than the Dell Inspiron laptop.

The Dell Inspiron laptop itself was like any other modern Windows 7-based laptop in the market. Big and bright screen, full-size keyboard, the usual connectors, built-in camera. It weighed in at about 3kg, which I've now discovered is a pain to pick up with one hand. I'm too used to the lightweight of my MacBook Air.

I did notice, though, that there was a slight static electricity discharge around the keyboard. The last time I noticed this was with an old Apple laptop that was plugged into the wall. Which meant that either the Dell's power adapter wasn't correctly designed for Singapore's voltage, or the Inspiron's casing is not well grounded. From this, I would recommend that the user ground himself at all times. Or herself, as in "Bernadette's" case.

As for the Inspiron One touchscreen desktop, I initially found it fun to use, but the novelty wore off soon enough. As Steve Jobs had said recently in his introduction to the new MacBook Air, having your arm raised in front of you all the time to touch a screen is painful and weary. It didn't help that typing or even things like mouse dragging were difficult. "Dennis" himself had constant difficulty trying to expand the on-screen handwriting interface. As a result of forearm muscle ache at needing to hold my hand straight in front, I quickly lost interest in the Inspiron One.

On the other hand, I must say that the handwriting interface was very accurate! This was in spite of my and others' scrawls. Dell or Microsoft just needs to get it to interpret the writing faster, so that the user can write faster too.

Not being a gamer myself, I didn't care much about the Alienware laptops' prowess. But at nearly 5kg, I don't think they can rightfully be called "portable" computers! More like "back breaking".

At the end of the day, Dell's computers are still Windows 7-based computers, and there's nothing in them that sets them apart from the other Windows 7-based computers. While it was fun to play with some new laptops, I wouldn't be switching from a Mac anytime soon.

Also, as mentioned, I've now really come to appreciate the lightness of my MacBook Air. Dell probably has similar lightweight laptops, but none were showcased that night. And I definitely will not be getting any insanely heavy Alienware laptops!

As for touchscreen desktops, I'll continue to treat them as a novelty. Steve Jobs was right -- humans are designed to touch surfaces in a downward motion, not straight ahead.

I stayed at the apartment till about 10pm. After the lucky draw at about 8:30pm, there was nothing much else going on. By 9:30pm, the models were off duty too. Everyone was just chatting and socializing. I don't know if there was much "revelry" or "entertainment", but as for me, it was time to leave.

I still wonder how Dell got the apartment though. It was definitely swanky! A pleasant place to be at for a person who would probably never be able to live in something like it.

Finally, few suggestion for XPR:
  • Please hire Asian models! We're in Singapore, not some Western colony! I dare say that the waitresses, in their maid uniform, were far cuter than the plastic-looking "Bernadette".
  • If your lucky draw is based solely on those who had dropped in namecards, please also allow for people without namecards to drop in a name label into the bowl. As I had not submitted a namecard, I lost interest in the lucky draw proceedings and went off to play with a computer instead.
  • Please reply when your invited guest responds to you. Don't leave them hanging, wondering if the email got through to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Dell over Mac anytime!

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