Life with the M4800


I’ve had the Dell Precision M4800 for about a month now and thought I’d update you on how it is going, and what I like and dislike. It’s been a rock solid machine so far and it has been easy enough to transition to. I’ve had a few problems, but they are mostly resolved now.

Monitor PPI

3200×1800 resolution? Check.

Unreadable font size? Check.

This monitor has a very high dpi rating, higher than the “retina display” of any mac laptop. This 15.6″ display with a 3200×1800 display is 235ppi, while the Macbook Pro is 2880×1800 is 220ppi. The difference between this and the traditional 1920×1080 display, 141 ppi, which is what I had before, is huge. This is exactly what I was looking for. But unfortunately Windows 7 cannot have different PPI for each monitor.

My external monitor *was* a 17″ 1280×768 (yeah I know, 4:3) old acer monitor. The problem was that it was 87ppi. With Windows 7, it cannot support different ppi monitors, so as I scaled things on the primary 15.6″ laptop display to make it readable, it turned out huge on the external monitor. 2.7 times larger, due to the difference in PPI. So I kept resizing windows on the external monitor, and would have to resize them when going back to the laptop display. Not a happy camper.

So I bought a new external monitor, a 21″ 1920x1080p IPS display. Unfortunately this only helped slightly with its 105ppi. Things were only double the size of the laptop display. Still not a happy camper!

After doing a little research, i found that Windows 8.1 CAN support different PPI’s per monitor. My machine came preloaded with Windows 7 on the 750GB hard drive. When I received the 480GB mSATA SSD, I loaded it up with Windows 8.1, which my machine also came with, and is licensed for. Now there is a setting for scaling the display size, and there is a checkbox called “Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays” which I leave OFF. This allows each display to have its own scaling factor. Now windows on the external display and internal display are almost the same size. Now I’m a happy camper! This is probably the one area where the Mac Book Pro has Windows easily beat.

Windows 8

What about Windows 8, you ask?

I like the Metro look and feel, and the tiles are really cool. Unfortunately, all the metro apps are FULL SCREEN only. I’m a big multitasker and can’t stand full-screen apps. I opened an image PDF file that contained a software serial number in it, and the metro-READER opened the file. It was full screen and I could not find a way to make it not-full-screen. How would I type the 25-character serial number into the install program? Since the PDF was a scan image of the receipt, I would have to memorize 4 or 5 characters at a time to type them into the install program. If the reader app could be “not-full-screen,” I could put it side by side with the install program.

So basically I cannot use ANY of the metro apps since they don’t lend themselves to sharing workload between apps, the way I do it.

How To Shutdown Windows 8

It’s not easy. Apparently I have to go to the flyout-bar-thingy on the right by bringing my mouse to the upper right corner of the screen for a few seconds. From there, there is a “Settings” icon. Clicking on that brings up a menu where you can click on the “Power” icon. From there, you can select “Shutdown”. Or something like that. It took me a while to figure it out. I asked my daughter to figure out how to shut down the computer. She ended up going to google to figure it out. It’s not exactly obvious.

Start Menu, or lack of Start Menu

I loaded “Start Menu 8” and got back my traditional Start Menu. Plus it brings back the standard shutdown. With this start menu, I can now find my printers, my control panel, and a host of other things I used to be able to do in Windows 7. I also pinned many of the apps to my taskbar to have instant access to them. Now my computer looks just like Windows 7 even though it’s running Windows 8.1, and that’s not a bad thing. I like the way it works, even if some things are still missing.

Offset Keyboard

This keyboard has a number pad on the right side. The effect is that the keyboard is not centered on the computer. This took me all of an hour to get used to it, but now when I go back to one of my older computers, I am hitting all the wrong keys. I wonder what this will do for ergonomics, looking at the monitor at “left-of-center”? Who knows? But speaking of the keyboard.. this keyboard is fantastic to type on. It has a wonderful feel, crisp action, nice stroke length, and a definite depth to each key. I’ve improved my typing speed because of this keyboard. It reminds me of the old IBM typewriters. There is a definite resistance that gives way quickly and easily. It’s lovely.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

3 Responses to Life with the M4800

  1. Good review – I am looking at purchasing the M4800 as a replacement for my 3 year old Samsung i5 laptop.
    How do you find battery life? are there switchable performance modes to extend battery life?

    • Battery life is about 2.5 hours. There are profiles for slowing down the machine but I bought the machine for what it can do. I’m usually editing videos or photos or doing cad work. So I always leave my machine on high performance.

  2. Many thanks for the response.
    I got my M4800 September – very happy with it.
    When I work away from the office I can switch to power saving mode which gives around 5 hours on battery! (it does slow the processor quite significantly)

Leave a reply