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Alienware: when more than you need is never enough

An Alienware 13 Rolls into the College Classroom

A while back, I got an Alienware 13 notebook from Dell. I played around with it for a while, and then handed it off to my son, Addison, an 18-year-old who spends some of his free time gaming, which is really what the Alienware was designed for. I figured he’d get better use out of it. In return, though, I asked him to write up his thoughts on the machine. The following paragraphs are his, lightly edited by me.

— Roger

Addison:

In 21st century American education, college requires technology. Though my college provides a computer lab with desktops, a notebook is essential for daily life on campus. I take typed notes, make digital flashcards, and write papers in any number of odd locations (the quad, my friends’ rooms, the train). My professors expect the basics of computer use in the classroom: that it can turn on and run PowerPoint and Word. My peers have an assortment of machines that perform (at least) these minimal functions: Chromebooks, MacBook Airs or, iPads. The Alienware 13, with the heft of my psychology textbook, feels a little over the top. In my First Year Seminar, I got both looks and questions when I pulled out my hulking notebook. One friend commented that I have more memory and processing power than I could ever want. He’s right — but that’s a good thing.

College life is unpredictable and messy: I neglect my notebook out in the sun, I press my greasy fingers into the touch screen, I rest my face in its soft keys late at night. Luckily for me, this Alienware is the president of predictability. I have never lost video frames to a hardware issue, not even when streaming Netflix’s Lovesick while downloading Dota 2 in the background. The graphics are sweet, and I habitually enjoy dunking on my enemies in Overwatch in more pixels than I could even dream about when I first started gaming. I chronically forget to charge my machine, and without compromising screen brightness or function, the battery easily lasts seven hours without being plugged in. The Alienware notebook is ideal for college living. I couldn’t ask for more.

However, at the end of last semester, I woke up to a nightmare: my chic notebook refused to work during finals. Due to an error with an operating system update, it continued to shut off every time I fired it up. I ran straight into primal college fear; it was maddening. Fortunately, I was able to go back to a restore point, upload my sacred personal files, and enter a semi-functional state. I weathered exams, and made it home. We sent the machine back to Dell, which resuscitated it and sent it back, perfectly healthy, right before I had to head back to school. That was it. The only problem I’ve ever had with the notebook and it didn’t mess with my GPA.

The Alienware 13 has more juice than I can actually use, which means I don’t have to worry about it. With 475 GB of storage, I can keep in the same place my games and personal files as well as everything I need to be a full time student. If I enroll in photography next semester, I’m not the least bit concerned that I might have to get rid of something to make space for a big photo-editing application — a serious college student dilemma. The Alienware 13 notebook is a tank: it fires dynamically, rolls through heavy downloads, and is a bunker against weak battery life and dropped video frames. It may not drop right into your purse, but the Alienware 13 notebook is more than worth its bulk.

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