Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dell XPS 15z vs MacBook Pro 15: Head-to-head; Value for the money?

UPDATE: An update for Dell XPS 15z users: Read it if you have some time
XPS 15z: Why you should not buy a premium Dell laptop 

Which one gives best bang for the buck? Price to performance ratio is one thing I always consider while looking for new computer. So I decided to configured and compare a high spec Dell XPS 15z against a similar configuration of MacBook Pro 15 inch on their respective official websites. Both of these configurations can be purchased in the US as of today (28th May 2011).  Since the MacBook Pro price shoot-up to $3000 range, I also checked which laptop I can buy from Apple for a similar price-tag as Dell XPS 15z. (MacBook 13 inch) MacBook Pro 15 was released on February 2011 whereas Dell XPS 15z was released few days ago (May 2011). So this is not like I compare 2007 product line against a 2011 release.

I like technology war between the giants. That means more option for the consumers to choose from at better price-tags. Check these configuration comparison followed by a price comparison and decide which one is worth your hard-earned money.

Head-to-head comparison of Dell XPS 15z and MacBook Pro 15 specifications (chiefly hardware)

FeatureDell XPS 15zMacBook Pro 15CommentMacBook (Cheaper Mac option)
Processor2.70 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.40 GHz
Intel Core™ i7-2620M 2nd generation processor  (Dual core)
2.30 GHz  with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.40 GHz?
Intel Core™ i7 2nd generation processor (Quad-core)
Mac clock speed is slower but Quad Core (Dell XPS is Dual core.) Turbo boost is disabled in Mac due to overheating problem?? Mac QC is good when I edit the Full HD videos recorded in my Sony camcorder.2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
HDD750GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive500GB 7200 rpm SATA Drive Dell XPS has 250 GB more. Handy to store HD videos/pictures in Laptop itself500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
DVD Drive8X Slot Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)No Blue-Ray option for both?
Memory (RAM)8GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 1333MHz Memory8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB OK. More than sufficient memory for 95% of the use4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
Screen15.6" 300-nit FHD (1080P) WLED Display

15-inch Hi-Res Glossy Widescreen Display (300-nit)Dell XPS slightly wider. Both 300-nit; means brighter screen. Most Windows Laptops are 200-nit 13 inch
Screen resolution1920x10801680x1050Dell XPS is Full HD, a.k.a 1080p. I can watch the Full HD videos I recorded in my Sony camcorder in actual resolution
Graphics cardNVIDIA® GeForce® GT 525M 2GB graphics with Optimus. (NVIDIA Optimus which will automatically switch to the Integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics when less power is needed in order to save battery power)AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5Does it really matter for non-heavy gamer?NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
Graphics card memory2GB1GBDoes it really matter for non-heavy gamer?
HDMI portBuilt-inMoshi Mini DP to HDMI adapterExternal adapter needed for MacBook
Webcam1.3 MP1.3 MPOK
KeyboardBacklit Keyboard - EnglishBacklit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide OK
Card reader slot support9-in-1 supporting SD, SDIO, SDXC, SDHC, MS, MS Pro, MMC, MSXC, xDsupports SD and SDHC cardsMore card support for Dell XPS . (Good to have, but is it really needed?)
BluetoothBluetooth 3.0 Bluetooth 2.1What can I do with that difference?
TouchpadMulti-Touch trackpadMulti-Touch trackpad (for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities)Good to have
MicTwo mics (dual array digital microphones;)Single micStereo voice recording in Dell XPS?
Ports HDMI 1.4 (1),
Mini DisplayPort (1),
RJ-45 (1), (Ethernet port)
headphone (1),
microphone (1)
USB 3.0 (2);
USB 2.0/eSATA combo with PowerShare (1)
MagSafe power port
Gigabit Ethernet port
FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
Audio line in
Audio line out
Kensington lock slot
I still need to buy separate VGA adapter to connect to most of the projectors
Battery64 WHr 8-Cell Lithium Ion Battery77.5 WHr Lithium-polymer batteryHow's the real battery life for a real-life use?
Battery replacementThe battery is not user replaceable(?)The battery is not user replaceableToo bad
Power adapter90W85W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management systemMagnetic power connectors for Macs
Dimensions, weightHeight: 0.97” (24.68mm)
Width: 15.15” (384.85mm)
Depth 10.25” (260.37mm)
Weight: 5.54 lbs (2.51 kg)
Height: 0.95 inch (2.41 cm)
Width: 14.35 inches (36.4 cm)
Depth: 9.82 inches (24.9 cm)
Weight: 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg)
No big difference. Dell XPS is slightly bigger on dimensions but lighter on weight
CaseElemental Silver AluminumAluminum uni-bodyBoth are stylish, at least in the pics. Looks are almost same? Dell cloned MBP?Aluminum uni-body
Warranty2 Year Advanced Service PlanApple’s One-Year Limited WarrantyGood to have an extra year of 'advanced' protection with Dell XPS
additional featuresUSB 3.0Thunderbolt Faster data transfer if you have a supported device
additional featuressupports Intel Wireless Display 2.0, which means users can wirelessly stream HD content to HDTVs with an with an optional $99 adapter.I guess Macs don't have that. Do they?Good to have some new technologies if it comes without any extra cost
additional featuresWaves MaxxAudio 3, Software’s ability to really give audio a boost. You can get 5.1 surround sound with external stereo speaker connectionI guess Macs have that. Don't they?

additional featuressupport for NVIDIA 3DTV Play which allows users to connect to compatible 3D TVs to display 3d photos, videos and games.Macs don't have that. Do they?Good to have some new technologies if it comes without any extra cost
Operating systemWindows® Home Premium, 64-BitOSXThis is personal preference. No war here. I need Linux as wellOSX
Must-have options Not-availableNO SSD Option. Update: 256 GB SSD option is available now for an extra $560.00SSD option available (128GB Solid State Drive for extra $100.00)Too bad Dell!! You let me down
NO Blu-ray OptionNO Blu-ray OptionToo bad Dell and Apple!! You both let me down
Price (excluding tax as configured online direct from the original manufacturer(, on 05/28/2011)$1,499.99$2,783.95
So after tax it would be like  $1601 vs $2971. I mean, I pay 'only' $1370 more for MBP 15 so that I can get two additional processing cores?

I've another logical plan. How about it if I buy Dell XPS 15z now and invest the $1370 in Apple shares? I've two years of advanced warranty on Dell XPS. So I'm safe on any potential hardware issues/problem. After two years, I can sell the AAPL shares (and hopefully get profit from it; thanks to Apple marketing and strong fan-base) and spend that money to get the most advanced, thinnest, lightest but sturdy laptop at that time (Octa-core Intel i9 or i11 Ivy Bridge processors with 3D HD touch screen and 16GB DDR7 RAM?).

Well, I saw this as an option for XPS 15 configuration (not XPS 15z).
2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM processor 2.00 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 2.90 GHz [Included in Price]
2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7-2620M processor 2.70 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.40 GHz [Add $95.00 or $3.00/month]

That means, Quad core i7-2630QM is $95 cheaper than i7-2620M dual core processor?! Okay, that Quad core has slower clock speed than dual core. (2.00 GHz vs 2.70 GHz)

Now this YouTube video explains the logic:
Intel i7 dual core more $$$ than an Intel i7 quad core???

I was curious whether the i7 quad core is really worth trying on a compact laptop with minimal cooling and ventilation. It seems like i7 Quad Core laptops (both Windows and Macs) have the problem of over heating.

Here's a processor comparison from Intel:,52231
Cache per core is same (8 MB for Quad core vs 4 MB for Dual Core)

Why no Blu-Ray disc? Apparently, there is not any Blu-Ray hardware currently available which can be put within a 1 inch thin laptop. Looks like an innovation is needed in this area. I'm eagerly awaiting for this feature.

Why no Solid State Drive (SSD)? There is no excuse for Dell for not providing such an option.** From the Dell official information, it looks like XPS 15z is one of the early models in the series and more are on the pipeline. Their target market is advanced consumer who look for power+style in a compact mobility pack who don't mind spending $1000-$1500 for a laptop.

**UPDATE: SSD option is available now (June 2nd, 2011)

Considering the history of Adamo series from Dell, I'm still skeptical about  XPS 15z and awaiting for more credible user reviews on the product. However, I'm optimistic about Dell's capability in bringing an aesthetically pleasing powerful laptop at an affordable price-tag. I feel XPS 15z is actually pitted against the cool looking Sony VAIO series.

UPDATE: June 5th, 2011

Okay, after a week of research, I'm going for the $1499.99 option, which I feel suits my needs and worth the money.

Config: i7 processor,
8 GB RAM, 750 GB 7200 rpm HDD, 2GB Nvidia GPU,  2 years Advanced warranty (damage/spill/screen break all covered for two years), higher and instant customer service with direct Dell rep phone number (no wait time for support).  

UPDATE:  Sept 3rd 2011
Dell XPS 14z is on the horizon

__Web links_____________________________________________________
Check out the pictures for a visual comparison:
Pics Or It Didn’t Happen: The Dell XPS 15z Vs The MacBook Pro

Dell XPS 15z vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro (2011)

Review of Dell XPS 15z on the web

Official product video from Dell
Dell XPS 15z - Less mass. More appeal.

CNET review (

Dell XPS 15z: Thinnest 15″ PC on the Planet, Takes on MacBook Pro

PCMag review on Dell XPS 15z,2817,2385682,00.asp

PCWorld video review
Dell XPS 15z Preview: A MacBook Pro Rival For Far Less Money

Slashgear review: Dell XPS 15z notebook unveil tomorrow to fight MacBook Air

Engadget review: Dell XPS 15z review from

NYTimes: Dell Tries Again With a Thin Laptop

Official Blog from Dell: 
Performance + Style + Battery Life = Dell XPS 15z

The official webpages of Dell XPS 15z and MacBook Pro 15
Dell XPS 15z specs from Official website

MacBook Pro Specs and options from official Apple website


Make a Heatmap from CSV/tab delimited file: R - Project Scripts:

I tried this and it is working well:


1. In R-commander, load the Matrix (from CSV, tab delimeted etc) for
heatmap in a name, say "Dataset"

2. Now change the data into matrix
> Dataset <- data.matrix(Dataset)
> Dataset_Matrix <- data.matrix(Dataset)
> Dataset_Heatmap <- heatmap(Dataset_Matrix,Rowv=NA, Colv=NA,col = cm.colors(256), scale="column", margins=c(5,10))

Now you should see a heatmap window

3. Change color
> Dataset_Heatmap <- heatmap(Dataset_Matrix,Rowv=NA, Colv=NA,col = heat.colors(256), scale="column", margins=c(5,10))


Merge two CSV files to a single file Excel worksheet based on a common/unique key

If you have two CSV files (any delimited files) that have a common field, sometimes we need to merge the data into a single worksheet.  Intelligently use VLOOKUP function as explained here to accomplish this task.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Convert your LAN to a WiFi for free with your laptop

If the WiFi in your office is quite weak or non-existent and if you don't wanna use your smartphone's data plan bandwidth for streaming music, checking your personal mails, sync-ing your online calendar etc, why don't you convert your laptop to a high-speed WiFi hot-spot for free? You can connect your iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Phone all to your laptop (connected to a LAN Ethernet connection) using free software like these:


2. Virtual Router

3. Virtual Access Point

I tried the first two; Virtual Router, the 2nd one, didn't work for me. Connectifi worked quite well. Now I have high-speed internet on my androd phone for free. Kudos to the developers.