Let's find out by opening the first box. The CPU is on top, and the keyboard below.
Opening the keyboard box reveals the usual instructions nobody reads and the CDs no one uses (hopefully).
Next let's unpack the computer itself. Note that the word Dell is right side up, but the computer is upside down. No biggie.
Here we've removed the packaging material. To the left you can barely see a Canon Prixma photo printer that will be shared by the two machines.
One thing I noticed was lots of film protecting the box's finish. It took a while to peel it all off.
Notice that Dell cut a slit in the film above the air vents. I guess they had a problem with people turning on the machines without taking the wrapping off first.
The front of the Vostro mini-tower has two fold-down covers. Opening the top one exposes the included CD/DVD drive. Underneath that is room for an expansion drive.Note also the four USB sockets and a place to plug in your headphones and microphone. The re's a place for a Firewire port but I didn't order that option.
The back of the box reveals the Vostro's no-frills design.
Here's a close-up of the power supply.
Four more USB sockets, VGA video output, an Ethernet socket, and audio jacks round out the back.
A couple of cooling vents decorate the side of the case. You can't see it in this picture but when the machine is on a faint blue glow emanates from within.
The standard Dell keyboard and optical mouse are shown here. The trim keyboard is reminiscent of Apple designs.
It's time to move the cat out of the way and take out the monitor. The bundle I purchased came with Dell's low-end 20 inch wide-screen monitor, the E207WFP.
I don't really understand why a monitor needs a CD, but there it is. And what's this, two video cables? Hmm...
Hey, what's a DVI cable doing in there? I thought this was an analog monitor? Let's take a closer look.
Yep, that's DVI all right. I expected the monitor to be VGA-only (like, for example, the E176FP), so this was a nice surprise.While the computer does not have DVI output now, if I decide to purchase a new graphics card this will come in handy.
I know there's a monitor in here somewhere...
Ah, here it is. Note the kind of odd 1680 x 1050 resolution. Luckily none of the software I've tried so far has had a problem with it.
On the underside of the monitor you can see the VGA and DVI inputs. According to the web site, the DVI connector supports HDCP., even though Dell's web page lists only VGA.
The monitor stand before attaching the panel to it.
And here's everything together. Next step... turning on the power.
All systems ready...
Dell offers both XP and Vista as equal options. I decided to go with Vista in the hopes that the machine and it's OS will be supported for several years to come.Before you ask, Linux wasn't an option. I mean, literally it wasn't an option on the web site. Besides, the kids want to run Windows games and their schools use Windows so what the hey. At least I didn't buy MS Office, opting for Open Office instead.
After reading every word of the license terms thoroughly (don't you?) I clicked accept and went to the next screen.
On this screen you get to pick out your user name and a cute picture.
Don't forget the wallpaper.
Let's let Microsoft put whatever new software it wants on the machine. They know what's good for us anyway.
One machine already knew what time it was but the other didn't; I'm not sure why.
At this point Windows was done asking questions so I just let it do its thing for a while.
When I came back, everything was set up. Note the amazing lack of "crapware". No ISPs, no Real Networks, etc., with one notable exception on the right hand side.
For some reason the computers came up in 1024x768 mode, so everything looked stretched. A quick trip to the control panel fixed that.This picture doesn't really do justice to it, but the quality of the monitors is awesome especially when you consider the price. Not a dead pixel in sight.
Google, Google, Google, Google. Three Google search fields in the browser, and one on the desktop make it hard to miss the search giant. I wonder how much they paid Dell for this. Unlike most bloatware though, the Google additions are actually going to be useful.
Now comes the part I've been dreading - downloading all the patches and updates for Windows. This was actually the most time consuming part of the install. It took over an hour to get everything, counting reboots.
16 updates were waiting. It would have been nice for Dell to do this part for me before shipping the machine, but there were actually many fewer than I expected.
The Netgear XE104 went under the table. It supports 4 Ethernet ports but I only needed two. You can have up to 16 ports active at various places around the house (assuming you buy more endpoints of course).
Ta da! The final product - identical twin Vostro mini-towers with wide screen monitors. A phenomenal setup for a dirt-cheap price.