Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Buy a Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop Computer

The Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop is a decent, popular with students and with anyone looking for an inexpensive laptop. In my experience, Dell’s support network has been fairly helpful, but this model is simply not equipped to handle a lot of the tasks that make owning a laptop enjoyable. If you want to have wireless internet, a DVD burner, or a USB 2.0 or Firewire port for fast data transfer, you’ll need to shell out money for costly and bulky accessories. These features are available conveniently built in to many other laptops close to the price range of the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop. If you only need very basic functionality, the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop is a relatively affordable and reliable choice, but if you want anything other than a bare bones machine, you may find yourself loaded down with a lot of auxiliary equipment. The biggest problem with the Inspiron 4100 is the design of the PCI slots that you’ll be using to hold a lot of these accessories. Read on for a rundown of what this machine lacks, what you can do to improve its functionality, and some problems you’ll encounter in doing so.

1. Monitor Bulb Burn-Out

After about 3 &1/2 years of regular use, the monitor on my Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop suddenly went dark. It turned out the problem was only a minor one: the lightbulb that makes the screen visible had run out of juice. This is not an unheard of problem for laptops, and the repair usually costs between $150 and $300. Average bulb life is definitely worth considering when you compare laptops in a given price range: my experience with the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop was that the bulb ran out about three months after the end of the warrantee period.

2. Outmoded Graphics Card

The graphics card in the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop is fine for viewing DVDs or photographs, but if you’re interested in gaming you’ll be very disappointed. The Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop can’t support the graphics for many of the most interesting new games, including the famous online community Second Life. As games and programs continue to have more advanced graphics, the percentage of new programs compatible with the graphics card built in to the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop is destined to continue to shrink. There isn’t much you can do about this, except buy a different computer.

3. No DVD Burner

A Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop comes with a CD burner, but if you want to burn DVDs from your laptop you’ll need to shell out for a more expensive disk drive.

4. Removeable Disk Drive

Instead of a built-in CD or DVD drive, the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop has a removable disk drive. This can be useful, because when you take out the disk drive you have room for an extra battery so that your laptop has twice the battery life when unplugged. However, it can be also be very inconvenient because it means you have to keep track of your disk drive. If you’re inclined to be messy at all, it’s easy to lose the drive, which is about the size of your hand. If you lose or break the drive while it’s outside of the laptop, it’s not easy to find a replacement, so you will likely need to order another one online and wait for its arrival. Replacement disk drives for the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop start in the $50-$70 price range.

5. Hard Drive Space

The Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop has limited hard drive space. This means that if you’re planning to use your computer to hold a large amount of information, like your photo archives or your music collection, you’ll need to purchase an external hard drive. To use this external hard drive, you’ll probably want to buy a Firewire or USB 2.0 card, which have their own problems when it comes to the Dell Inspiron 4100. Read on for more details.

6. No USB 2.0

The Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop comes equipped with a USB 1.1 port in the back of the machine. However, now that faster USB 2.0 has become the standard, 1.1 is becoming obsolete. You can still use 1.1 to transfer data to an external hard drive or an mp3 player, but it takes a while. If you are planning to use an Ipod or other handheld music device with your Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop built-in USB, you may even have to stop in the middle of the transfer and unplug your mp3 player for a break so that it doesn’t overheat. You can buy a USB 2.0 accessory card for faster data transfer, but that can be problematic due to the PCI design flaws outlined in #9 on this list.

7. No Firewire

The Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop has no built-in Firewire port. Firewire is currently the fastest way to transfer data. This means that if you want to transfer large files, like video, music, or high resolution images, you won’t be able to do so with a Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop right out of the box. You can buy an accessory PCI card that has a Firewire port, but a Firewire card will cost you upwards of $50, can be very bulky due to the PCI slot design, and is just one more accessory you’ll have to keep track of. Many other laptop models have built-in Firewire, which is definitely more convenient than buying a card for a Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop.

8. No Built-In Wireless

No wireless capacity in the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop means, you guessed it, that you’ll have to buy yet another PCI accessory card. That means another purchase of at least $50, but worst of all, it means you’ll have to master the art of shuffling your accessory cards around to get the functionality you need at any given time. See #9 for details.

9. PC/MCIA Slot Design

The biggest flaw with the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop is the design of the PC/MCIA slots on the side of the machine. There are two ports for PCI accessory cards, into which you’ll need to slide a wireless card, and a USB or Firewire card if you want to do high-speed transfers. This needn’t be a problem: one slot for a wireless card, and one slot for a fast transfer port. However, these two ports are stacked vertically, which means that unless you buy cards that are thinner than a piece of cardboard, you’ll only be able to use one slot at a time.

10. The Dance Of Downloading, Or, The Accessory Card Shuffle

When you combine the limited hard drive space, the lack of built-in wireless, the lack of built-in high-speed data transfer, and the PCI slot design flaws, here is what you get: the accessory card shuffle. Let’s say you want to buy an album from the Itunes music store, the check your email. Here’s what you’d need to do to make it happen on the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop without crowding the built-in hard drive. You’ll have to save the album onto your hard drive, disconnect your wireless card, put in your data transfer card, hook up your external hard drive, and then wait for the file(s) to copy over before you can take out the transfer card and get back on your wireless connection to get your email. If this is the sort of thing you see yourself doing a lot of, you’re probably better off with a computer other than the Dell Inspiron 4100 Laptop.

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