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The advantage of buying Dell laptop is that they can go wrong quite often, and when lot of people face problems, they first resolve the issue and put the solution on the web. If you search on the web for Dell Inspiron 5100 / 5150, you get lots of posts with various issue. The main issues are overheating and shutting down with slightest shake.
I bought my Inspiron 5150 from Dell outlet at 50% of original price, not realising what am I getting into. It worked like a treat for couple of years as I watched DVDs and created movies using Pinnacle Studio. I was bit disappointed with the speaker sound though.
Then this heavy beast started slowing down with heavy fan noise and I thought that it is due to old age. I searched on the web and found step by step solution to clean heat sink to avoid this problem. But could not gather the courage to open the heat sink.
Then I hit the next big issue. It shuts down at slightest pressure on the palm rest. The internet forums came to rescue again. It has to do with some C-tab putting pressure on some specific circuit. I opened the computer, took a deep breath and touched all pins of circuit with very very hot kitchen knife. And the problem was solved.
After few months, I noticed that I can't even surf as it gets really hot. So, I opened the laptop last week and removed dust and fluff from the heat sink. That worked like a treat again. and my laptop is working as cool and fast as new !!
After 3.5 years of buying Inspiron 5150 3.2 GHz, I own the fastest consumer (not gaming etc) laptop around in year 2008 !! As most of the programs run on single core, we don't generally have a single core working at more than 2.2 GHz.
I won't attempt here to go into the full spec of my Inspiron 5100, as the other reviewer has covered it all very well. Suffice to say mine was pretty well at the top of the range at the time. Actually, it worked like a dream for about 18 months, with no problems to speak of.
Then, a month or so out of warranty, I plugged it into the mains and sparks flew (literally). The motherboard was suitably fried, and as the warranty was over the whole thing needed replacement really.
I now run an Inspiron 6000 (see review elsewhere) which has been mainly good to me bar an early motherboard replacement, but I gather problems with the power supply/motherboard were endemic in the 5100. Beware!
Last May, my husband decided we were best off dropping the PC's and getting ourselves laptops. We started off looking at Dell, and he chose an Inspiron 510M for just over one thousand pounds. Yes, it's expensive, but my husband is a website designer, programmer, all round computer guru and needs a damn good quality computer to work with.
So, here are the specs for you, and I will try and translate what they actually mean in real speak too!
*1.2 ghz Pentium M Processor (runs pretty fast.)
*512 Mb ram (lots of memory means you can use several applications at once.)
*20 Gb hard drive (this can store a lot of information.)
*DVD/ CD writer drive (You can make your own CD's and watch DVDs using this)
*2 USB Ports (to plug in a mouse, digital camera, Printer etc)
*Primary 6 port battery (Should keep you running for a few hours before you have to charge up.)
*WiFi enabled (you can surf the net without any wires, if you have the right extra equipment.)
screen size =14 inches (measured diagonally, this means It's quite large. )
It came loaded up with windows XP and a few other bits and bobs (virus checker, adobe acrobat) as well.
When our silver surfer arrived, we were very pleased. She looked sleek, she felt heavy (full of good stuff we thought) and seemed well put together. It didn't take us long to change our opinion though!
The first thing we noticed was the key's on the keyboard were very "clacky." they made a terrible racket whenever you used it, feeling pretty loose under your fingers. It took only a month for keys to start dropping off, and Dell sent us a replacement keyboard, which was equally as loose and noisy.
The plastic casing on our 510M, looked ok at first, but that also was shoddy, grasping the laptop, you'd hear the plastic creak, and feel it give a little under your fingers. This only got worse, until finally, in the hands of an engineer, the case cracked a little by the USB port at the back, causing no end of problems, and an ever-widening chasm.
It was quickly looking like we'd paid far to much for this so called "High spec" laptop, but we thanked the Heaven's above that we opted for the full service package, which meant that every time our bundle of joy went wrong, we were able to get it fixed under warranty.
Next, the power pack died. In total we had 6 replacement power packs in little over a year. Goodness knows why they were inclined to give up the ghost so very quickly, but I do remember that an assistant on the phone telling me that power pack failure was a "popular problem." and they sent out replacements regularly.
Connected to the power pack problem (literally actually) is the battery. When we first received it, the battery held charge for a good 2-3 hours, depending on how many programmes were running at the time, this quickly decreased (within a few months) to an hour, then 45 minutes, then 30 minutes and less if you ran more than one programme at once. In the end it failed completely. I do know batteries fail, anyone who has an old mobile knows that the battery does eventually give up, but after one year? Surely, it should last longer than that.
So, what else could possibly go wrong? You'd think, not much wouldn't you? You'd be wrong. Within 6 months the DVD drive broke. We got a replacement, a mere 3 months later that gave up too.
Now, I know what you're thinking!
"What the hell were they doing with that laptop to make it break so often?"
I can honestly tell you nothing. It was rarely moved from the house ( two or three times whilst we had it) and my daughter wasn't allowed to use it without our supervision, she mostly used the desktop we still had at the time. It was used daily, never dropped and looked after like the £1000 of kit it was.
On with the review! So, What else went wrong with our little bucket of bolts? The Mother board was replaced twice. For those who know little about the make up of computers, the motherboard is the main thing that keeps everything doing what it should do, basically, it IS the computer. So ours frazzled twice, once after about 8 months, and again after 14 months.
The laptop would heat up A LOT, to a point where it was uncomfortable to rest your hands on it. I know laptops do heat up, but this got HOT, not just kind of warm, and after only an hour or so of usage.
So, we had nothing but problems with our 510M and when we got to a point where we were ringing Dell for repairs monthly, Husband, Dell and I decided we should give up on it, and they would send us a new laptop, not a 510M this time! (Thank God!)
Do I recommend you buy this laptop? What do you think ?
*Cheaper than other suppliers.
*Delivered to the door.
*2 USB ports, so you can plug in two things simultaneously .(eg, a mouse and a printer.)
*Cheap plastic soon cracks.
* Power packs fail regularly, known as a "Popular problem." to Tech Support.
*DVD drives seem to last about 6 months before giving up.
*Battery life is short to begin with, and rapidly shortens to less than 30 mins.
*2 motherboard replacements within 14 months.
*Keyboard loose and noisy.
*generates A LOT of heat.
I feel it is also relevant to the review to tell you that contacting technical support is expensive (national rate help line), often frustrating, and the technicians have to go through an on-screen list of "Fixes" before they can order your repair -which when you know exactly why your laptop isn't working is just a tad annoying. Emailing Customer Support is a waste of time, and their online guides to fixing your problems is largely useless.
So, they may well be cheaper, may well deliver to the door, may make your laptop to your own specifications -but the Dell 510M is a poor excuse for a laptop. Please avoid, unless you want something you want to use rarely, you like to hear your keyboard clacking (might help you reminisce about your type writer days) and you have cold hands, it comes with a built in heater after all! *insert roll-eyes emoticon here*