I have owned a Dell
Dimension 3000 computer for about one year. It has many useful features and has performed reliably. It does have a few drawbacks involving noise and upgradability.
The Dimension 3000 comes with 256MB of memory (RAM), an internal telephone modem, and a sound card. This leaves two expansion slots. It has six USB ports (2 on front, 4 on back), a front earphone jack, two PS/2 ports (keyboard, mouse/trackball), an ethernet port, a serial port, and a parallel port. This allows for accessories such as a digital camera, DSL modem, or printer to be connected.
There are two large CDROM-style drive bays and a 3.5″ disk drive. The disk drive appears to be non-standard, so you would probably need to purchase a Dell disk drive (or a generic disk drive with an adapter to make it fit in one of the large drive bays) to replace it. A compact disc writer/burner can be purchased which fits in the empty drive bay under the CD-ROM drive. Installing a Zip drive would require an adapter, as there are no free 3.5″ drive bays. Putting in a secondary hard drive requires a two-socket cable and a mounting bracket to hold it.
It is fairly heavy and has a tower-style design. Much of the exterior is made of metal, although most of the front is plastic. Although tower-style computers have become much more common than desktop computers, towers sitting on the floor collect more internal dust, are more likely to be hit by feet or chairs, and take up more space than desktops. However, towers do put less strain on desks (because they aren’t on top of them), which is good if you have a desk which isn’t very sturdy.
The included Dell PS/2 keyboard is lightweight and thin. It has a smaller Enter key and space bar than some keyboards. Otherwise it is mostly standard. If you would prefer using an older 5-pin DIN keyboard, there are adapters which will allow them to be connected to a PS/2 port. The 2-button mouse included with the Dimension 3000 has a rubber scrolling wheel between the buttons, which can be useful for scrolling through websites.
It consumes about 250 watts of electricity, not including the monitor or accessories. This is substantially more than most laptops and some older computers, but less than some newer models. The internal fans can become quite noisy in hot weather, although this can be remedied to some extent by using an air conditioner. On the other hand, the hard drive is quieter than that of some older desktop computers I have used.
On dial-up internet, its speed is substantially better than that of an older 200 MHz computer, although not greatly better than a somewhat more recent computer with a 333 MHz processor and Windows 98. Using an earlier version of Windows (than XP) on the Dell would probably make it faster, but it is usually fast enough for most purposes. Unlike some older computers, it meets the necessary requirements to use high-speed internet services – which increase the internet speed but also the chance of receiving viruses.
It offers two video resolution settings, 800×600 or 1024×768 pixels. I prefer the 800×600 pixel setting, as it is easier to read. A computer with a lower 640×480 resolution setting may be preferable if you have a small (or old) monitor and/or poor eyesight.
It usually boots up and shuts down quickly, more so than some of the other computers I have
used. Disabling some of the programs set to start when it boots up (on default) will increase the boot-up speed. Getting rid of the Norton anti-virus software which comes with it also seems to speed the computer up in general.
I don’t see the advantage of using USB ports for a mouse or keyboard, as you can’t possibly use your keyboard or mouse faster than serial or PS/2 ports are capable of receiving information. On the other hand, USB ports allow for digital camera photos to be transferred much more quickly, and probably do the same for scanners, although I don’t own one.
The Windows XP operating system included with it (and almost every other new computer) does not seem to be a great improvement over Windows 98. While Windows 95 made substantial improvements on Windows 3.1, and Windows 98 had some noticeable advantages to 95, I have found few advantages to XP (at least not that would benefit the average computer user). XP also runs more slowly than 98 and doesn’t allow the user to boot into DOS-only (with no Windows in the background), making it harder to remove some viruses. Dell does not include a Windows CD with this computer, which would make it impossible to reinstall Windows if the hard drive were to fail after the warranty period, unless a Windows CD could be acquired.
Here are some ratings (0=Poor, 10=Excellent) on different features of the computer… Portability/Compactness: 3, Sound: 10, Video: 8, Accessory Ports: 9, Expansion Slots/Bays: 7, Quietness: 5, Reliability (One Year): 10, Keyboard: 8, Mouse: 7, Operating System: 5.
Overall, the Dimension 3000 is great for using the internet and newer software. An older computer or laptop may be preferable if your needs aren’t especially demanding (word processing, e-mail, spreadsheets, old games, occasional or patient internet use, etc). It also isn’t as upgradable as some newer computers, but already has the features most people need.