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Old Jun 5, 2010, 12:11 PM   #71
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Dell's OptiPlex products use their own engineered components, so the performance and reliability are top-notch, though they do tend to be more expensive. The XPS, etc., are thrown together with off the shelf components you can buy yourself at CDW, et al., though Dell does get volume discounts and so can sell those computers for less than you could build one yourself. It's roughy equivalent to what Gateway does, and all the neighborhood wannabes too.

And if you're serious about performance, look at the Dell Precision series.
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Old Jun 5, 2010, 1:27 PM   #72
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Ugh. So much to consider. Fortunately, I really am in no rush as I have a perfectly adequately running system (knocking on wood), if a bit slow at the moment (which I could probably improve a bit if I take the time to do a reinstall of Windows). I'll continue to look and do a little research.

To some extent, I think the thread has gotten a little side-tracked. I was initially trying to decide between a PC or a Mac (leaning toward a PC, but still a little undecided), but in either event I noted that I am not really a power user and didn't anticipate initially doing too much more than basic photo editing (probably with PS elements), although I want to leave my options open, so that I can do some more (maybe try HDR, etc.), try some basic video stuff and run some music applications. In other words, I don't think I need the absolute fastest system on the block, but I have always bought something a little toward the higher end performance wise and somewhat more computer than I need at the time of purchase so there is growth potential.

So far (again, knocking on wood), I have been OK with Dell Dimension and XPS computers. Unless something has changed, I suspect it should be ok for my use going forward. Am I correct that the components in a Mac would be similar to that in a consumer level Dell?

Tcav, I'm also interested in why you put "scratch and dent" computers ahead of a certified refurb in your list. Is it just that the refurbs are computers where others have had problems? I have always purchased new in the past and I actually am able to get a discount on new systems through Dell's EPP program, but so far their 7% discount doesn't seem so great -- they usually offer something equivalent to the general public.

Thanks again for all of the input. I'm learning a lot.
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Old Jun 5, 2010, 1:37 PM   #73
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Scratch and Dent models are just refurbs with cosmetic blemishes that don't impact system operation (IOW, someone scratched the case and they labeled it as "scratch and dent" versus refurbished, as the refurbished systems appear to be like new with no cosmetic blemishes). ;-)

Refurbs are usually just returns that have been checked over thoroughly with the main hard drive being reloaded from a disk image to return it to like new condition, repackaged with a new keyboard, mouse, manuals, etc. (with the most likely issues being something came loose in shipping, or user error because they didn't understand how to install new software, didn't like the latest Windows version, etc. and decided to return it).

Personally, I'd have zero issues buying a Dell refurbished machine (or, scratch and dent model). I've bought 4 machines from them that way and they all arrived in perfect condition. They offer the same warranties you'd have with a brand new one (including optional 2 and 3 year on site service plans). So, from my perspective, what's not to like if you can save a few bucks. ;-)
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Old Jun 5, 2010, 2:22 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Jazzer251 View Post
So far (again, knocking on wood), I have been OK with Dell Dimension and XPS computers. Unless something has changed, I suspect it should be ok for my use going forward. Am I correct that the components in a Mac would be similar to that in a consumer level Dell?
Macs use Apple components, much like OptiPlexes use Dell components, and so are not similar to the XPS and Dimension product lines, which are built from off-the-shelf components.

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Originally Posted by Jazzer251 View Post
Tcav, I'm also interested in why you put "scratch and dent" computers ahead of a certified refurb in your list. Is it just that the refurbs are computers where others have had problems? I have always purchased new in the past and I actually am able to get a discount on new systems through Dell's EPP program, but so far their 7% discount doesn't seem so great -- they usually offer something equivalent to the general public.
The "Previously Ordered New" are products that were never used by a customer. The product may have been manufactured IAW the customer's specifications, but the customer cancelled the order, or refused the shipment, or returned the product unopened.

The "Scratch & Dent" are the products that received some cosmetic blemish, but are fully operational, and so the price is discounted further than a "Cerified Refurbished". These may also be products that have received some cosmetic blemish during assembly, and so can't be sold as new.

The "Cerified Refurbished" are rental and lease returns and repos that can and often are older products.

I'd pick a "Scratch & Dent" over a "Cerified Refurbished" because it's more likely to be closer to current models or it's likely to be more heavily discounted.
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Old Jun 5, 2010, 2:41 PM   #75
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Dell has a totally separate sites for rentals and lease returns. Those are sold through Dell Financial Services versus Dell Outlet:

http://www.dfsdirectsales.com/

As for scratch and dent versus refurbished, you'll find current models with both ratings at Dell Outlet. The only difference is how they grade them when they're returned (if they're scratched or have cosmetic blemishes, they'll sell them as Scratch and Dent versus refurbished). Personally, I'd go Scratch and Dent if I could save more. But, the models they mark that way are usually a very small percentage of the listings for the same computer model and specs (since most customers don't cause cosmetic damage before they're returned).

I've bought 4 machines (3 desktops and a laptop) from Dell Outlet [so far] in "Certified Refurbished" condition, and they were all indistinguishable from brand new machines in every way.
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Old Jun 7, 2010, 3:54 PM   #76
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What I'd do if I were you and needed a new machine...

Something like this scratch and dent listing at $749 before any coupon codes for more off (a Dell XPS 435 with a Core i7 920 and 3GB of DDR3. It's got a 640GB drive (and you could buy a 1TB drive and add to it for under $100 from popular vendors). See the attached image below.

It's got three 1GB DIMMs in it (3GB of DDR3), with three slots left open. So, you could buy a 3x2GB memory kit (three 2GB DIMMs) for around $200 from vendors like http://www.newegg.com for 9GB total (three existing 1GB DIMMs, three 2GB DIMMs you add yourself later. Examples:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...E&PageSize=100

After the 15% discount, you'd be looking at around $636.65 ($749 - 112.35). I'd use the cheapest ground shipping, which should probably keep the price around $665 or less plus tax in most states.

Then, spend about $200 more on three 2GB DIMMs for 9GB total, and you'll have a really nice box with a
Core i7 920, 9GB of RAM, separate video card, Sound Blaster Audio card and more, for under $900 after using a coupon code for more off.

Enter this code at checkout for 15% off on any Dell Home Outlet desktop or laptop until June 9th from what I can tell from the e-mail promotion abut it:

79RTNK0SZL7FMV

Just go here, then after you click on the button to check availability and pricing, click on the price column to see lowest price first:

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dfh/deskto...35&s=dfh&cs=22

Click on this image for a larger version:


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Old Nov 21, 2010, 12:48 AM   #77
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Jazzer - I suggest - don't rush into buying a new computer. Instead -

1. Buy one of the little external hard drives and copy onto it, from your current computer, all your documents, pictures & other records that you want to preserve.

2. Then format the hard drive of you current computer, re-install it's operating program, and if the maximum amount of RAM that your computer is designed for isn't installed, then install it. Topping up RAM to the maximum is by far the most cost-effective way to improve a computer's performance.

It will quite likely turn out that your current computer will run much faster & suit your needs just fine.

Incidentally, I agree with everybody who says that both Vista and Windows 7 are inferior to Windows XP. I go further. I think that Windows reached it's best with Windows 2000 and that it went a bit downhill with Windows XP, & that after that it's gone downhill faster & faster.

I feel similarly about Photoshop - I have Photoshop Elements 2 that was $25 on eBay. I've tried later versions of it as well as some blown Photoshop versions, but Elements 2 does everything so well that there seems to be no point in later or more complicated versions. And for something simpler to use alongside PS Elements, Faststone is ideal - and miraculously, it's free.

After saying all that, I have to confess that about a month ago I bought a used Power Mac. It weighs a ton and seemed to be strangely complicated to operate at first, but now it's making sense. It's running Tiger and would undoubtedly run Leopard but Leopard won't run my beloved Photoshop Elements 2, so I'm staying with Tiger. Sadly, Faststone won't run on a Mac, but there are a few lesser known programs that will and that are reasonable substitutes for it. There are several different ones all going under the name of Image Browser, but the only one that uses the name Image Browser & that I like is called Image BrowserWC. There are three others that I like too - Lyn, Footagehead, and Curator. I'd be interested to know what other Mac owners think of them.
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Old Nov 22, 2010, 7:27 AM   #78
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...There are several different ones all going under the name of Image Browser, but the only one that uses the name Image Browser & that I like is called Image BrowserWC. There are three others that I like too - Lyn, Footagehead, and Curator. I'd be interested to know what other Mac owners think of them.
Not sure what features are important to you, but have a look at GraphicConverter. (Actually, look at version 6.7. The developer is in the midst of a re-write of the program and the new version 7 still lacks some features of 6.7. On his mailing list, he has committed to re-implementing everything but says that it will take some months.)

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Old Nov 22, 2010, 9:45 PM   #79
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PvrFan -

Thanks for the suggestion. I've just downloaded GraphicConverter6.7 and taken a quick look at it. It looks like a very capable program but I already have Photoshop Elements2 and of the two I think Elements2 has more features.

What I'm really looking for is a supplement to Photoshop Elements2 - one that provides really quick and easy browsing combined with some simpler adjusting functions - e.g. re-sizing, cropping, rotating, brightness, etc. Faststone is quite the best for that and I hope a version that works on Mac will eventually come along. Meantime I'm finding that of the alternatives I mentioned, I like Lyn and Footagehead most. Both are quite good for browsing. For anything more serious I like Elements2.

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Old Nov 25, 2010, 7:41 AM   #80
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Hi I have just got my first Imac 21.5 coreI3, this is after 30 years with a PC. My first impressions are very good. I had an ageing XP machine and my criteria was simple it had to be an all in one. All my software was aged to so i knew I had to buy new. With this view in mind I looked around and the price difference between a windows machine and the Imac was less than 100. I asked a question here got a lot of great response and got my first Imac.
I got from the Apple store it was delivered within 4days and from getting it out of the box I was setup in 15mins 2hours later my photos and itunes were on it too.
It comes with Ilife 11 which gives you iphoto simple photo organiser and editor plus garage band imovie and ichat. I also got office 2011. For more advanced editing I use canons DPP and the gimp next purchase will be either light room or aperture. 2weeks in and all i can say is its easy. I dont miss windows and I like the speed of the mac it boots with in seconds.
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