Friday, December 19, 2008

New laptop on the way: Dell XPS M1330!

NOTE: If you are looking for a good deal on a refurbished Dell XPS M1330 (and maybe 1530), read on!

My current and only machine is a 4.5 year old 15.4" laptop. It's held up surprisingly well, but a Pentium M just isn't cutting it anymore and I really want a smaller and lighter form factor. I had been eying 13" Dells for quite awhile (the XPS and Inspiron models), and was looking at paying around $1200 for a new XPS M1330. After discovering Dell Outlet (refurbished, returned, et al) and finding some decent machines for about half the price I was originally looking at, I decided to turn my focus there.

I wasn't finding anything amazing in the Outlet at first, since so many people are snapping up all the deals very quickly due to Christmas and such. However I discovered a little trick! The Product Red XPS systems are listed separetely from the others with no obvious link. But once you get to a listing of machines for a particular model, you can manually look at Product Reds by changing the model drop-down from say, "XPS 1330" to "XPS 1330 PRODUCT RED". Assuming you don't mind red (it was actually my preferred color), now you'll have a list of machines that a lot of people aren't seeing. Sort by price and you can find a few for $759, and a bunch of "Scratch and Dents" (lots of good experiences with these online, it seems) for $799. I chose a refurbished one for $759 with a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo processor (8100), 4 gigs of RAM, Nvidia 8400 128MB graphics card, 6-cell battery, Wireless N and Bluetooth, and integrated 2MP webcam for $759 with free shipping. I was about to bite at this price although I was slightly hesitant as the tax brought it to just over $800, and was really hoping for a coupon to make it sweeter. As I was heavily debating it and rather close to buying it, someone on SlickDeals pointed me to where you can get free one-time use coupons, including 15% off Dell Outlet XPS!

I was quickly let down when the coupon didn't work online though, as it isn't valid with any other promotions, and the free shipping promotion is always there with no way to remove it. However as the coupon expired Dec 24th and the shipping Jan 5th, that meant it actually wasn't possible to use it, and figured a call to Dell could rectify this. Sure enough, I was able to get both promotions by ordering over the phone, and got the machine for $645 pre-tax!

So in summary:
  1. Go to, select XPS laptops, then change the model to the PRODUCT RED version from the drop-down.
  2. Add one to your cart to secure it for 15 minutes. Repeat as necessary throughout every 15 minutes.
  3. Visit and grab a 15% off Dell Outlet XPS coupon.
  4. Call Dell Outlet (1-866-492-6721), explain that you have a coupon but can't use it because of the shipping promotion, and they should do the order over the phone for you (if you are nice enough :)
I am very happy with the purchase, and it comes with a 1-year in home parts and labor warranty. When I was considering new XPS systems for over $1,000, I was going to get a 3 or 4 year warranty for $200-300, but at this price (half of what I was originally considering) I can afford a new laptop in 1-2 years anyway if it breaks down, and have a nicer system for those extra years!

I'll probably post this to SlickDeals eventually but I thought I'd give the Ubuntu community a head start. Let me know what you think of this deal in the comments, positive or negative, and if you had any luck doing the same.

Monday, December 8, 2008

UDS Monday Run-down!

Canonical graciously sponsored me as a community member to attend the Ubuntu Developer's Summit, and as the first day is over, I figured I should give a brief overview of the sesssions I attended.

Mark Shuttleworth opened the day, giving an overview of the general goals of Ubuntu followed by the specific goals for Jaunty. On the desktop the main goals seem to be a new notification system which looks very slick, and improved boot time. I was impressed with how down-to-earth he was, as well as being accessible throughout the day and popping into almost every session.

Next I went to the desktop experience session, which was mostly a presentation and feedback session for the new notification system targeted for Jaunty. Afterwards was a session about Launchpad, where Launchpad developers asked for input from users. As it turns out, almost every complaint and feature request made is apparently solved in 3.0. It sounds like it is going to be a very progressive release which will include an overhauled AJAX interface which is apparently much faster and easier to use, requiring less clicks and page loads. Additionally, signed PPAs should land in about two weeks, with the ability to have multiple PPAs per user coming eventually as well. Pretty exciting stuff for PPA users on both sides!

After lunch at the Googleplex I attended a session on improving 5-a-day, and we talked about how the program can be tweaked to encourage more consistent contributions to bug triaging. Afterwards there was a two-hour session on improving boot speed. Canonical is measuring boot time from the point where the GRUB count-down is done until the user is at a fully functional desktop with no disk I/O, and it sounds like the goal for Jaunty is to cut this time in half!

What did anyone else at UDS think of the sessions? If you aren't at UDS, what are your thoughts or questions?