I got word from our IT department last week that Dell is going to replace the motherboard in my E4300 sometime in the next couple weeks. The rumored BIOS update that was supposed to be out on January 19th still hasn’t appeared. The only thing that is making life with my E4300 palatable is that the connections problems seem to under control now that I reinstalled the Dell Connection manager software. It still behaves oddly from time to time but at least it is mostly usable.
The one behavior which still drives me crazy is the unwillingness to turn off or go into Stand-By. I can press the function key or use the Start Menu option but the computer simply remains powered on. Sometimes it will go into Stand By only to turn itself right back on a minute to two later. Very annoying when it happens while it is in my computer bag.
After all of the frustration I have had with the WiFi and wireless broadband I have had with my E4300, things are a little better. The really odd things I am not really sure why. Dell was supposed to have a BIOS update on January 19th but as of the 29th, it has yet to ship. I have been checking their web site daily.
I had taken the SIMM card out of my laptop to use in a Sony-Ericsson Z750 UMTS phone that I have and when I put it back in my laptop, I noticed that I didn’t have a BroadBand device listed with the Dell Connection Manager. Very odd. I cannot explain why it went away. After dinking with it off and on for a couple days, I decided to reinstall the Dell Connection Manager software.
After doing so, my BroadBand card was recognized AND both my WiFi and BroadBand connections have been more stable. I worked for almost two hours Saturday night via BroadBand without any problems. Last night I used my home WiFi connection for several hours also without any problems. I had also noticed that there was a newer version of the Dell Connection Manager (A11 vs A10) than I had installed so I have installed it as well and all seems to be well for now.
I will continue to monitor this and I am sure that now I have committed it to a blog post, it probably won’t work worth a crap tonight when I need it!
I really like my new Dell E4300 laptop but it has an odd behavior which is driving me nuts. When connected with either WiFi or BroadBand (I have the AT&T card) it will lose network connectivity after some period of time. Sometime is takes an hour or more, sometimes it happens very quickly. Once it happens, I am usually hosed and need to reboot. But not always. It only affects WiFi and BroadBand. It has no affect on the wired Ethernet connection. As long as I am in the office or at home I am ok.
I have been round and round with our internal IT people as well as Dell on this issue and haven’t found any resolution yet. A new BIOS update (A05) actually made the problem worse. With the A03 BIOS when it happened I could still ping other computers and eventually full connectivity would come back. But not now.
Reportedly Dell has a production stop on the E4300 to resolve a bunch of issues and a BIOS update is supposed to be available on January 19th. I hope so – I am about to spend a bunch of time on the road for work and having an unreliable network connection is not ok.
If you are considering an E4300 I’d hold off for now and see if reports improve over the next couple weeks. That is of course assuming that Dell actually delivers a new BIOS update and doesn’t delay it again!
I have had my Dell E4300 for two weeks now. At this point I think I can offer an opinion which is based on fact and real usage and opposed to first impressions and emotion.
What I like
- I really like the size and weight, it is thin and weighs less than four pounds.
- It is fast and it hasn’t crashed on me during normal use.
- The mechanics. It feels solid – nothing flimsy about it at all.
- Real docking station. I really like not having to plug anything when when I get to work or go home.
- Built-in BroadBand card. I really like this – it is nice to not have to worry about an external card.
- The color – I picked the bright blue and while it make no difference to how the machine works, it is nice to have something a little different.
- The neoprene sleeve that comes with it. Sometimes I don’t want to carry my computer bag so having the sleeve is a nice compromise.
What I don’t like
- Dell Control Point Connection Manager – this is the one thing I really don’t like about the machine. The DCP CM is a nuisance. For whatever reason it wants to create “Profiles” for each different configuration, why I don’t know. Each time I use the BroadBand card the screen flashes and a DCP window “informs” me about a profile change when all I want to do is make a connection.
- The “clicking” sound of the 7200 RPM SATA HDD. It sounds like there is something wrong with it but I guess that is just the way it works. Odd. It is loud enough to be noticeable.
- Windows XP. I may be one of the few who happens to like Vista but at this point, XP is old and running it on a brand new machine is a bummer. Unfortunately, my employer is reluctant to deploy Vista. I could probably push it but for now, I am living with XP.
- Undock: The way the release button on the docking station works it sounds like something is breaking. Each time I undock it I cringe a bit.
- Stand-By: I am seeing some flakiness coming out of Stand-By when using the docking station. I would guess about half the time the machine doesn’t come out of Stand-By correctly. I have a dock at work and a dock at home – my normal (and preferred) usage is to go into Stand-By when I leave the office, remove it from the dock, go home, put it in the other dock, and come out of Stand-By. It should work but doesn’t always.
I received my new Dell E4300 last Friday and over the weekend I got all of my applications installed. Tuesday night I copied over my 125GB of data (I really need to delete some stuff) and I have been using it ever since. I even sent the M1210 I had been using back to our IT guy so I am committed.
For the most part I like it. Mine has 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, internal AT&T BroadBand card, the bright blue case. About the only thing I am not thrilled with is the Dell Connection Manager. It takes over the function previously supplied by AT&T’s BroadBand Connect software. The Dell application is clunky and it is constantly asking me to create a profile. I don’t want a profile, I just want a connection!
I definitely like the size and weight. There should be no problem working with it on an airplane. I really like the ambient light keyboard too. At first I thought it only had one USB port which would have been a real bummer but it turns out it has a dual function eSATA/USB port on the left hand side so it has two USB ports. I typically use a BlueTooth mouse with it so I don’t think only having two ports will be an issue. I may pick up a USB ExpressCard anyway for the odd time I need more.
Yesterday I received my new Dell E4300 laptop. I ended up getting a blue one with a builtin AT&T BroadBand card (replacing the webcam) and 4GB of RAM. I am now in the process of moving my life from one laptop to another, a process which will take me a couple of days. I have most of the applications installed again, will probably copy my data over tonight.
My HP nw8240 is really getting on my nerves. It has had some odd issues for a while but this one is driving me nuts. Every once in a while, my n8240 will act as if the delete key is permanently held down. This means that what ever happens to be open, trys to delete things. This is particularly annoying when I have my Outlook Inbox open! Nothing like having 200-300 e-mail messages deleted in about 3 seconds. This happened a while back and then went away but came back with a vengence this week on several occassions. I ordered a new keyboard which should be here on Monday. I hope it fixes the problem.