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The photographer and the Dell XPS

My goodness…. I'm sure we've all had love/hate moments with our computers. One would think that by owning a more expensive piece of hardware would mean that it is better, right? I mean that just makes sense! WRONG!!!

 

You'll think that I'm crazy sticking with the same brand even though they consistently prove they can't be trusted, which is a shame, because fundamentally, we as human beings want to trust something or someone and that gives us some peace and comfort.

 

Remember DELL having a huge scandal regarding their laptop batteries more than a decade ago? I think it was 2007, but I could be wrong. Anyhow, that was a red flag for me to avoid DELL at any cost.

 

There came a point (2008 I believe) where I was going to buy a new laptop and DELL definitely wasn't on the top of my list because of its battery related shenanigans in the past, however, a laptop with the features I needed only DELL had. How annoying is that? I thought to myself, that there probably won't be a battery issue, since the whole scandal was so recent. I went and got the XPS 13'3 M1330. At the time it was the thinnest in its class and it sure did seem so. Gives me a chuckle now though :)








 

I associated the XPS being a premium product line that one should have no issues with. Ha! Silly me. The laptop needed two motherboard replacements, which meant it had three in total - one that it shipped with and then the two replacements. I was really bummed about it, because as mentioned before - premium product(?). After that, I finally had no issues with the laptop. Even the battery was doing alright, imagine that!! Btw, it still works, I popped an SSD in it and it's all good. I recommend this little hack if you are in a tight money spot and can't afford a new laptop, or if you simply need a typewriter, an SSD will bring a fresh breath of air to your computer. I've done it to several PC's and MAC's. Also, for these older models you can also add more RAM. Interestingly enough, I think that this XPS RAM limit was 4GB, at least that's what DELL claimed, but that turned out to be false, because whoever was the manufacturer of the motherboard made the limit to be 8GB. I started looking into this after a friend of mine had upgraded their MAC to 8GB and which was also supposedly supporting only 4GB.

 

Now, let's fast forward to…I think 2014. Finally I'm in a position where I can afford a new laptop and it's an exciting time because technology has advanced quite significantly, but has the corporate mentality as well? This time I really wanted to stay away from DELL because I had my own hands-on experience with them and for the money I paid them, that was not acceptable. This time it was a struggle to find a new laptop, because all the companies where mental about making laptops razor thin, which meant excluding crucial ports for everyday use and I am not a dongle guy. That is just one more piece of equipment that you'll forget at some point or even worse, lose. The painful quest for a new laptop that would be photographer friendly, meaning having an SD slot, came to an end when I finally found…wait for it….yes it's another bloody DELL. Believe me, I was not happy with this choice and it felt like I had betrayed myself, my values…. At least it was a damn good-looking thing with a 4K touchscreen display. And for those of you wondering, yes it's great to have a laptop screen being touch friendly, I never thought I'd enjoy it that much. Anyhow, another XPS 13 inch laptop. This thing was and still is a dream. Except, don't trust the sleep function on it, otherwise you'll be taking out a boiling hot laptop from your bag at an airport. Scared the living daylights out of me. Since then I only use the hibernate function. I do feel like the blame here could be split between DELL and Microsoft, leaning more towards the latter. I was amazed how that incident didn't leave any damage to the laptop. Almost a decade later I've found the reason behind this issue. I was right to assume that Microsoft had something to do with it, because when you put the computer to sleep it actually is on and not just on, it's doing Windows updates, that is why when the next day you come to use your computer that you've left on battery, it's either dead or has a significantly reduced battery percentage left. I can't remember the specific terms for this behavior, but Mac's also have this, except you can turn it off. I hope Microsoft does something about it. Actually now there are plenty of articles that address the issue, but this has been very recent despite this being a problem for so long. Here is one of the articles in case you're interested in. Prevent windows 10/11 rebooting in sleep mode to install update (thegeekpage.com)

 









Remember how I wasn't happy about how companies circumcised the ports? It is this reason why DELL had won me over, because, not only they had the SD card reader which for me was a must, as well as two USB A ports, but there even was a mini display port. Unbelievable! This thing is super thin and still looks gorgeous even after almost a decade.

 

As camera files became beefier, I felt the need to get another machine for the road, because most of my editing Is done on my monster desktop, but when I'm on the road, I still want to edit reasonably fast. Also, video has become more of a thing in my life as well.

 

Now, the market had completely gone insane and you couldn't get a 13 inch laptop with almost any ports, so bye-bye to the SD card reader. In 2019 I stumbled upon a 2018 XPS 15 with a huge discount. Because of its size, it had all the ports including a full size HMDI port and a dedicated GPU. Since my previous XPS experienced had been better than the first one and the price/performance ratio seemed more than reasonable, I went for it.

 










This thing had awful colors out of the box and was totally unusable for photo editing. I went out and bought a calibration device which I then was unable to successfully install, however this was an occurrence with other software as well. It was driving me nuts. It all ended with messing the OS up so bad that it would hang on the OS recovery screen. I still have no clue what it was that made this machine unusable, but it was something with the installation of Windows that it came with. Luckily I had a solution for that, but that still wouldn't fix the colors. The calibration helped, however, I tried to avoid editing on that machine if I could. The other thing about it is that it is somewhat sluggish, even with basic tasks. The old XPS 13 seems snappier, which is weird, since there is 5 years in between the two. Also, only recently due to some circumstances I realized that the WiFi/bluetooth card by KILLER (Intel's brand) is complete rubbish and had been destroying my life for years. I researched the internet, and sure enough, a well-known issue. I bought the card that I found was recommended and everything was solved. My Wi-Fi became twice as fast and reliable, imagine that… The best part of it was that the card was super cheap.

 

Bottom line, we the consumer are being screwed by these massive companies and there is nothing we can do about it, except for not buying their product. While searching for solutions for my XPS issues, I've discovered that the XPS lineup has in fact only issues!!! It's simply better to stay away from DELL and this time I will do as I preach. The odd thing is that, you won't see this information in the media. I don't think it's because the journalists get lucky, I think they get sent something completely different (cherry-picked) which the average customer never sees. You read or watch the popular YouTube tech creators and you fall in love with the XPS laptops, and why wouldn't you? After all, if the computers would perform as expected, of course you'd want one, but there are countless forums discussing dead XPS laptops even on arrival(!), or issues like mine with the motherboard or bloating batteries and so on. DELL has so much money that they can simply buy the advertising industry and make it their playground.

 

BUT! It's not all doom and gloom. Finally there is hope with some new laptop brands on the market like Framework and Schenker. Unfortunately, so far my experience is only marketing based….so who knows, maybe it's the same stuff, but in a different package, but like I said in the beginning - hope and trust. If I will be in the market for a new laptop, I am definitely checking these brands out.

 

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