Category: Out Of The Box

Setup for Dell Latitude E5430

Dell Latitude e5430My recent project was the setup for a refurbished Dell Latitude laptop that I purchased online. Latitudes are business oriented laptops that Dell sells and leases to a variety of business customers. Many large enterprise level companies lease their machines and return them to Dell periodically as they upgrade to newer hardware. This means that a few times throughout the year Dell amasses a stock pile of old machines that they then rebuild and sell at significant discount prices. Even better, if you browse discount sites such as DealNews and TechBargains they will detail how to get a discount on top the already low refurbished price. Dell has these discounted sales periodically, at the beginning of the year in January or in the middle of the Summer, such as July. If you are going to buy a refurbished laptop, there are some risks. These laptops are not brand new, they have seen some usage, and so if you want a perfect looking laptop you are not going to find one. Your best bet is a Grade A model, which will be priced a little higher. The other factor is that these machines only come with a very short warranty. Three months or one hundred days type warranty will apply. You can purchase an extended warranty from the Dell Refurbish site at the time of purchase, but note that you will be adding to the total price of the machine. You will want to consider this extended warranty price and what it is worth to you personally. In my case, this was a secondary machine that I am not going to worry too much about, so no extended warranty for me. These are older model machines as well and not the latest and greatest technology. Business laptops are not gaming machines either, so if your main emphasis is gaming, consider looking for an Alienware type models instead of Latitudes. Overall my best advice is to wait for the discount from the and then shop for something that you will like and that will cost you about forty-five percent of a new laptop. Once you get higher than fifty percent, I usually think you might as well save up for a new machine that you really want. Given all this, lets get started on setting up the laptop.

Out Of the Box

Dell took about three to four business days to ship the laptop. The machine is serviced by a third party company named Genco. The machine was packaged well and was very clean. The only accessories were the Dell power adaptor and a printed explanation of the standard warranty for a refurbished machine. Below are the specs for the laptop:

Dell Latitude E5430 Laptop (non-Vpro model)

  • 2.7GHz CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 1600×900 HD display
  • 320GB Western Digital Hard Drive

There were two types of e5430 models, there is an Intel-Vpro model and then there is the non-Vpro model. This one is the latter. The hard drive inside the laptop was a Western Digital mechanical hard drive and it was dated July 19th, 2013. The laptop like the hard drive is from the the same year as well, in other words I bought a three year old laptop.

The installed operating system is Windows 7 Professional (32-bit). There were no installation disks for Windows included, as the hard drive includes a recovery image.


There is nothing wrong with the laptop at this point and it is perfectly usable out of the box. However, I love hardware upgrades and so I couldn’t help myself from adding some things. The best possible upgrade is an SSD hard drive. SSD drives are now much more affordable, and so you can take your pick from a variety of SSD drives out on the market right now. My personal preference is Crucial/Micron and Samsung, but I have purchased other brands such as PNY if they were at a good price. For this project I did purchase the Crucial MX300 750GB – CT750MX300SSD1. I did consider the 525GB model as well, but unfortunately it was out of stock at the time. This SSD drive is a 7mm height drive and a spacer is included so that it fits as a 9.5mm drive. I did utilize the spacer when I switched out the drives.

Next was the memory. In current terms 4GB is not nearly adequate, so I opted for maxing out the memory. Most people might consider upgrading to 8GB memory (2 x 4GB DDR3 modules), since this is a very cheap upgrade to make. The e5430 does in fact support 2 x 8GB modules, for a total of 16GB memory! The easy way to purchase memory for this machine is to visit Crucial and buy direct from them. They will guarantee that the memory will work and are only slightly more expensive than buying from online stores like

Both the hard drive swap and the memory upgrades are very easy to do. You will need a philips #0 screwdriver and for the lower memory module, I found a plastic spudger handy for pushing down the memory SIMM into place.

Note before doing any hardware upgrades, consider downloading all the required software in the following Software Installation section first if you do not have another Windows machine that you can use to download stated software. Look through Device Manager in Windows and note the type of hardware you have, such as the Network Card, Wi-fi Card, etc. My particular laptop did not have a finger print sensor or Bluetooth. In the Software Installation part we will need to download multiple software, so it is best to use a second machine or read this entire post before doing any software steps.

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Filed under: Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Out Of The Box, Windows

XM Satellite Radio

XM Radio LogoIn April 2009, I did what I thought I would never do, namely walk out of an auto dealer’s lot with a brand new vehicle. With the economy being more like a depression, and the automakers desperate to make a deal, I thought this was an excellent opportunity to get what I wanted. In this case, it was a new Chevy Silverado Crew Cab Pickup. The new truck is simply great and I must admit that driving a new vehicle does give you a certain smugness, which took me a month to get over. I will try to post something in the near future about the new truck, but this post is about XM Satellite Radio and why I ended up keeping it. Most new GM vehicles come with a 90 day trial of XM Radio and the Silverado was no different.

The GM Factory Deck

First up is the GM deck. In my case, the GM deck acts as both a regular AM/FM receiver and XM satellite receiver. It also performs a third function, which is to perform some OnStar functionality, such as Turn By Turn directions and display messages for your built-in satellite phone. After a while, you will notice that the deck is pretty simple to operate. The main features are that it has a built-in equalizer for sound adjustment and six menus of favorite stations (you can designate both XM and regular radio stations within the same favorite menu list). The deck does not have an LCD display and so is not stunningly hi-tech in appearance.

XM Stations

Unlike regular radio, XM has no commercials for most of its stations and interruptions are very minimal. The disc jockeys are not annoying either and are for the most part fans of the music they play. My all time favorite channel is The Boneyard, which plays classic rock music including some metal bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden. In the past three months, I’ve listened to some songs I have never heard before. The variety is amazing, but even classic rock stations will run into some repeats from Billy Squire and Judas. Overall though The Boneyard tries not to repeat the same songs.

Moving on, there are other stations like Hair Nation channel 41 which plays hairband rock music from the 80’s, Liquid Metal channel 42 which is home to heavy metal only, and variety stations like Classic Rewind and Rock@Random. Hair Nation plays a little too much White Snake for my tastes, but hey, you gotta love some Cinderella and Motley Crew, right?

For non-rockers, there are other genres too, like Country, Classical Music, Soul, Disco, and Alternative 90’s rock which I still don’t consider to be real rock music. Music wise XM has pretty much everyone covered. The one glaring problem I see with XM is the lack of Latino music. There is Caliente, but that is just one station and so there seems to be a lack of serious Spanish music variety on XM. You would think they would have at least three Spanish stations, but nope they just have one.

Other than music, XM covers Sports, Weather, News, Political Commentary, and Comedy. If you have kids or just want to block certain channels from your receiver, you can do that by going to XM’s website and setting up filters for your account.

Is it Worth Paying For?

Right now the price is pretty reasonable. The cost starts at around $15 a month for a basic lineup. Reception in my GM vehicle is also excellent unless I am in a parking garage or in a drive-thru that happens to block reception. In Iowa, my experience is that XM reception is better than FM radio. Note that on extremely cloudy days you might run into reception issues, but even with Iowa’s mostly cloudy days, this does not seem to be a problem very often.

It is quite hard to go back to regular FM radio. With XM, I don’t feel the need to plug-in my iPod or carry CDs anymore. I can just sit back and turn on XM and rock out whenever I feel like it, and now isn’t that why you have a radio in your car in the first place!

Filed under: Out Of The Box

Western Digital My Book Hard Drive

Western Digital My Book Home EditionWith the plummeting cost of hard drives today, hard drive manufacturers have had to come up with new ways to increase revenues, because selling bare internal hard drives to consumers does not carry much profit these days. The most obvious trend in the industry has been to dress up hard drives with external cases of various color and design and make them more appealing to consumers looking to backup their growing media collections and their occasional backup. All though there are a variety of external hard drive enclosures that you can buy separately, many consumers choose to buy an external case and hard drive packaged. In some cases buyers may be unaware that they can buy ordinary internal hard drives and pair them with a case of their choosing. Then there is cost, quality external cases can cost significantly and cheaper cases may be lacking in quality and looks. Hence the obvious choice is an external hard drive from a major manufacturer, and in this case from the hard drive manufacturer itself. This review covers the Western Digital My Book Home Edition drive. Out of the multiple choices out on the market I actually chose this specific model for the following reasons:

My Book Home Edition Features

With at least three external drives already connected to my Powerbook and a Windows Server in the same room, I wanted to keep noise levels as low as possible. Western Digital’s My Book models are for the most part pretty quiet compared to most third party enclosures. They are designed to stand vertical and save space, without using some sort of snap-on attachment stand.

Most important after design is performance. I needed at least a 500GB hard drive that performed as close as possible to a regular internal hard drive. This pretty much means you need to use something better than USB 2. Performance wise you really need to go with Firewire or eSATA. Both of these technologies outperform USB 2 external drives. The My Book Home Edition is available as a triple interface enclosure, featuring Firewire 400 (preferred on Macintosh computers and servers), eSATA (preferred on newer PC machines), and USB 2 in case you have no other option. If your computer has only USB ports, you can save some money and purchase the My Book Essential Edition instead. Otherwise I believe the extra $40 is worth it for faster performance.

Other features to note include smart energy power down when not in use, a capacity gauge that displays how much space is in use, and some backup software for Windows. Other than the energy smart features I did not setup or use these features. The capacity gauge is dependent on software, so if you do not run the software the capacity gauge feature will not work.

Usage Notes

Western Digital does not include an eSATA cable, so if you plan on using this port, make sure you pick up a cable. Firewire and USB cables are included, as well as a nice AC adapter that takes less space than the usual brick AC adapters you usually get with external devices such as these.

The case is black plastic and it appears to be snapped together, meaning that if the internal drive ever dies, replacing the internal drive may be harder to do than just replacing the entire unit out right.

Since the drive will be used with a Macintosh exclusively I needed to reformat the drive to HFS+, but in case you ever want to use the drive with a PC, I recommend using Apple’s Disk Utility to create an image DMG file of the entire contents of the drive before you format it. You can then always have the DMG file in case you want to restore the original contents of the drive. For Windows, I still recommend formatting the drive. Might as well find out early if the drive has any problems than later.

I have not encountered any problems with the My Book Home Edition and it is my second WD My Book drive. I have an original 230GB Essentials Edition that is connected to my Windows Server. Neither drive has had any physical problems and both are relatively quiet, even when in use.

Western Digital My Book Home Edition Hard Drive

  • 500GB
  • USB 2 + Firewire 400 + eSATA
  • Price: $149
Filed under: Out Of The Box