View Full Version : Dell Inspiron 4000 and DVD-ROM Drive (pls read!)
07-13-2001, 08:28 AM
I'm hoping some computer savvy people can clarify this for me.
I'm going to buy a Dell Inspiron 4000 (a notebook). Right now, they have a promotion for either a free CD-RW or DVD-ROM upgrade. What I want to do is get the CD-RW upgrade (since it's typically more expensive) and buy the DVD-ROM separately. (The drives go into a swapable bay.) I was talking to a Dell CSR and he said that this wasn't possible, that there were compatibility issues with the DVD-ROM and the graphics card which wouldn't allow them to sell a DVD drive without properly configuring it. I asked him point blank, "So you're telling me that if I don't buy a DVD drive as part of the base package right now, I won't be able to add one in the future?" And he replied, "No, you can't. We do not sell a DVD drive separately." WTF?
Please, someone tell me that he's full of shit. This makes absolutely no sense to me at all. I'm convinced that this has to be some kind of marketing ploy because he then tried to sell me on a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, which costs substantially more than if I wanted to get the free upgrade to CD-RW and then buy a separate DVD-ROM.
07-13-2001, 10:17 AM
He's probably bullshitting you, but that may be their policy as well. Can you order it online? Or at least spec the whole thing out with the spare parts online and call/fax it in. There's a refurb. 8X DVD @ $189.00 (http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.asp?Sku=960WY&spagenum=1&category_id=2999&keyword=dvd+4000&mnf=&prst=0&prend=0&mnfsku=&orderby=&SearchType=AND&customer_id=19&Pageb4Search=search&page=search%2Easp) for the Inspiron 4000, but not 16X which would be equal to the "free trade-up". It also says it needs a decoder card, so I assume no s/w is included either. I would think they've got a supply on hand in case one breaks down. Call another rep, or just tell them "screw you, I'll get a Compaq" then maybe they'll listen.
In either case, I've lost a lot of respect for Dell, they are very difficult to deal with anymore.
07-13-2001, 12:14 PM
As stupid as it sounds, he is likely NOT BS'ing you.
The tricky thing with this situation is the elusive decoder card. Notice in the description for the DVD: "Drive needs decoder card to operate, card not included."
This is the clincher. If you order the machine with the CD/RW, you get no decoder card. No decoder card, DVD no work. Unfortunately a laptop is not like a desktop in this matter - you can't just pop open the case & stick in a PCI card. This is likely a part that has to be installed during the laptop assembly.
SO, my suggestion is to get it with the DVD, and either spring for the add-in CD/RW or look at external CD/RWs (does that machine have a firewire port?)
07-13-2001, 12:32 PM
offer looks tempting but if i were you i'd stay away from the Dell Inspiron 4000 as Apex recomended.
He's absolutely BSing you. The Inspiron 4000 works with a DVD-Rom alone just fine. It comes with an 8mb ATI Rage Mobility 128 video chip, which has hardware motion compensation. There's absolutely no need for a video decoder card at all. The decoder card (which is a PCMCIA card that you just stick into one of the two PCMCIA slot) works as a hardware decoder, which, in my experience, lowers the CPU utilization, but decreases the video quality (most hardware decoders have much poorer quality than software, especially when compared to the ATI player).
Basically, what you're going to want to do is use the ATI DVD Software version 4.1. It comes with the Cinemaster engine and ATI's hardware decoding tags in it.
Oh yeah, and do as hapoo says, stay away from the Inspiron 4000 if you want a notebook with good build quality.
07-13-2001, 07:03 PM
Thanks guys for the reply. I wish I knew more about this so I could explain it well enough when I talk to them again. Apex, what would you recommend instead of an Inspiron 4000? I can't afford to spend more than $2000. The Inspiron with all the bells and whistles I need costs just under that, but I want to lower it b/c the CD-RW/DVD combo drive isn't necessary, but having both is. (Does that make sense? I won't need both physically at the same time or place, so I want to try to save another $100 or so.)
Here's the basic system set up:
P-3 900, 14.1 SXGA+ TFT
64MB SDRAM DIMM x2
10 GB Ultra ATA HD
Internal 56K + 10/100 Mini-PCI Combo
59 WHr Li-Ion Batt
Modular CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo
Minimal software (Win Me, MS Works 2001)
Minimal Warranty (1 yr basic)
It's for advanced educational uses (graduate school). It has to be mobile because it's going to be carted back and forth between home and school, but it can't be an ultraportable because it's a desktop replacement for half of the day. Every component is a necessity. It has to be able to play instructional DVDs, it has to be able to plug into the school network, and it has to be able to write data to CD.
Dell has the best deal by far right now for everything I need with that free CD-RW or DVD upgrade and free shipping until Monday. Oh, and their 90-day no payment/no interest financing option works out very nicely because I won't get my financial aid for another month and a half. The main problem in all the reviews I've read is the same as you say, build quality. If there's a better machine that can compare with this price with those features, please let me know which one and where to get it. Thanks for all your help.
[Edited by Dodge This on 07-13-2001 at 04:05 PM]
07-16-2001, 01:35 AM
Anyone? Can't just tell me not to get the computer then not offer any alternatives. That's just mean! ;)
07-16-2001, 01:45 AM
I'd get a thinkpad personally
For the FEATURES, at that price range, the i4000 is your best bet. Unfortunately, QUALITY wise, it's not great.
Laptops are always a compromise. I have a ThinkPad T21 which I love. But even this doesn't have the best of everything:
1. It's 850mhz instead of 1ghz
2. It's 1.3" thick, whileas the Compaq M700 is 1.1" thick
3. It has the nipple pointer, but I like touchpads
There's a few other really minor things I'd like to change about it, but overall, it absolutely rocks.
I have a brand spanking new A21p I'm selling in a few days, but it's a tad above your price range. It's an incredible one. P3 850, 1600x1200 resolution 15" screen, 32gb 5400rpm drive, 10/100, 56k, DVD, almost 4 hour battery, etc.
07-16-2001, 06:46 PM
Just in case anyone cares, I placed an order for an Inspiron 4000 today. I picked up a sweet deal on a refurb with the following specs:
P3 1 GHz
14.1 SXGA+ TFT Display
2 x 128 MB SDRAM
20 GB HD
Internal 56K + 10/100 Combo
Xircom CardBus Ethernet II 10/100 PC Card
53 WHr Li-Ion
Win Me (yeah...I know)
Tahoe Blue QuickSnap Color Kit
Leather Carrying Case
$2150 - $300 instant savings = $1850
I don't care what people say about the build quality (sorry Apex!), for that price, I'll live with it. I'm paying for a separate modular CD-RW which is $270, so it actually comes out to $2120. That's only $30 more than the unit I was looking at (little different from above, plus 3-year extended warranty). Pretty good for a step up in processor, double the RAM, extra 10/100 PC Card, leather case, and color kit. And the only downside is that the DVD and CD-RW are two separate drives.
So I'm pretty damn happy right now. :) I was hoping all morning that a better deal would come along. Funny thing is, I actually placed the order for the new Inspiron and then found the refurbished i4000 after deciding to hit the refresh just one last time on the refurb listings. To cancel the order, it took about 20 minutes of being on hold, but no big deal.
Anyways, thanks all who took the time to read this thread and respond. I really appreciated it!
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