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“Well, that was a nightmare,” said The Lady of OtherSuch Manor

I fretted about the replacement of the old desktop, Old Deller. Almost a month ago, I fretted about it to you.

I am an experienced fretter, have perfected it into an art form. You cannot out-fret me. Well, I don’t know–maybe you could. Really, there are no winners in a fret-off, so probably let’s don’t get into a competition about it. Plus, I don’t want you to lose. Then you’d just have something else to fret about. And then in my winningdom I’d start slacking and you’d have a come-from-behind fret-upset. Upfretset?

I made it two sentences into this post before my train of thought jumped three tracks over and headed off in the direction of Nowhere. Man, it’s good to be back in The OtherSuch!

Anyway. Usually, I cloak my fretting in “research” or “analysis” or “thorough evaluation of all options/possibilities.” And usually my researching/analyzing/thorough-evaluating is disproportionate to the actual threat about which I fret. But not always.

I don’t know that I’d say I was “right” to have fretted about replacement of the desktop, but I was certainly right about the possibility for it to become a nightmare of colossal proportions. It went like this:

Several days of research after which I settled on ordering a Dell Inspiron One 2320. The previous desktop was a Dell and I could not have been more pleased with it. I was happy to return to Dell. I was excited about the all-in-one Inspiron One system because the no-separate-tower design would free up space under the kitchen’s built-in desk, whereupon would be situated My Portal To The OtherSuch Chronicling. The touch-screen wasn’t a big selling point to me, but if I’m understanding what I’ve read, touch systems will be more useful after the upcoming release of Windows 8. (That’s a big “IF” preceding the “I’m understanding.”)

Out of the box, The Replacement (as I came to call her) was sleek. And her screen was HUGE compared to the one to which I was accustomed. With a rental renovation in progress, it took me a couple of days to find the time to actually set her up but that process, once begun, was pretty easy-peasy. She even walked me through the steps involved in transferring all of Old Deller’s data to my portable hard drive for copying over onto The Replacement. The lobotomy-like procedure took all of one night and an untold number of hours the next day while I was back working on the rental, but all of my data made the leap. I think. I thought.

Then, the problem: images (photos, websites) displayed on The Replacement’s screen had an unnatural yellowish hue. Kind of like the photos had already been edited in Photoshop and a sunshine filter applied. Which, in a way, made some of the photos look better. Except, how I was seeing them on my screen is not how you would be seeing them on yours. Unless maybe your computer screen had the same problem.

So, I tried to calibrate the screen colors. No luck.

So, I spent over an hour on the phone with technical support. No luck.

Technical support suggested that the problem was with the images and not the screen. But I had checked the images on my iPhone and iPad. By a vote of two-to-one, the problem was with The Replacement’s screen. To drive home the point to technical support, I set a raw/unedited photo up as the desktop background on The Replacement, connected Old Deller’s screen to an output on the back of The Replacement, and duplicated The Replacement’s background onto Old Deller (same image, same source file, shown on two screens). And thus was this–on the left is Old Deller, on the right is The Replacement:

Now . . . I’ll readily agree that the raw image looks better on The Replacement than it did on Old Deller, where it has a white/washed out appearance. But? The one on the left is a true representation of the unedited image. If I send that photo for printing, I could expect it to look in paper form like the screen on the left, not the one on the right. If I edit that photo in Photoshop using The Replacment’s screen, I have no way of knowing what the final product will actually look like.

It’s not just photos of my family that I care about–photos for the rental property advertisements that I prepare for the StephenvilleForRent.com website are important, too. I want to make sure that the photos I post are accurate representations of the properties. Again, the left is Old Deller, the right is The Replacement:

The image on the left accurately reflects the interior colors of that house. The yellow on the right is quite a bit off and is a problem. The reds are off, too, though less noticeably.

By my count, that put the vote at four-to-one that the problem was with The Replacement’s screen.

So, Dell sent a technician to my house a few days later to change the screen.

When he arrived, I had a functional system with a yellow screen.

By the time he was done, I had a system that would boot to blank, black nothingness. The new screen installed on The Replacement was in some manner not compatible with the system (some cable didn’t match up internally) so the entire screen stayed black. I could access nothing. Even with Old Deller’s screen still connected, could see nothing.

Panic began creeping in.

Before the technician left, he had me on the phone with Dell technical support who had graciously decided that because the system was less than a week old and should not be having these problems, they would just send a new system and have me return The Replacement to them. The Replacement’s Replacement should arrive within 7-10 days, I was told.

Panic. All data locked inside a machine with a black screen.

Then, less panic, remembering that I could probably call Old Deller out of retirement, strip a few more programs off of her and buy another week or so out of her.

But not no panic, just less panic.

The Husband called Dell back and convinced them to ship The Replacement’s Replacement a little faster. Seven-to-ten days of living with a fretful wife was panicking him, perhaps.

When it arrived, I was hopeful. Or maybe, more accurately, I wanted to be hopeful. Except that in the meantime I had Googled on the iPad a variety of searches related to “Dell Inspiron One 2320 yellow screen” and had learned my initial problem was not unique. I mean, Google had heard of it. More than once. There were forums.

I went through the initial setup for The Replacement’s Replacement, but stopped short of the full-on data transfer. As it was I already had all of my data trapped in The Replacement and wasn’t sure how, if at all, I would be able to remove the data before shipping it back when I couldn’t see anything at all on the screen.

So, no data transfer yet. Instead, a screen test. I had somehow had the foresight before The Replacement’s demise to email the two test images to myself. I connected Old Deller’s screen to The Replacement’s Replacement, opened the test images, set them as the desktop background, and

SAME EXACT YELLOW PROBLEM.

Another call to Dell and they helped me wipe my data off (I hope, anyway) of The Replacement and we returned both computers. At some point, they offered The Husband some small amount ($50?) to just keep The Replacement’s Replacement; he declined. They raised their offer ($90?); he declined. Seriously: accurate representation of colors on the screen is a big deal to me. Perhaps it wouldn’t be if I was primarily or exclusively using documents and spreadsheets, but I’m not and so it is.

The following weekend we made a trip to Big Electronics Store to check out a few other all-in-one models. They happened to have a floor model of the Dell Inspiron One 2320. I fired that Dell up and navigated to the StephenvilleForRent.com website where the image in that second comparison above was posted in a then-active listing (the property has since leased, so the photo has been archived). And guess what?

SAME EXACT YELLOW PROBLEM.

Based on my experiences, I feel completely comfortable in asserting that there is some kind of design flaw/defect in the screen of the Inspiron One 2320 model. And if color accuracy is important to you, I strongly encourage you to stay away from that model until Dell remedies the problem with its screen. Three for three, people–all with the same yellow issue. That’s not a fluke. And as much as I would prefer not to have negative feedback about a product, in this case it is warranted: the machine was not cheap, the down time was not negligible. I really liked Dell before; but I was really not pleased with this model.

On the upside, the Dell return policy has so far been fairly straightforward. But, you know, having to use it–and use it TWICE–is a big downside to even that upside.

And so it is that after another round of fretting and researching and despairing and wondering if writing on the cave wall is going to come back in style like skinny jeans and leggings, I finally sought solace in the arms of the HP TouchSmart 520.

I’m afraid to love her yet. Haven’t named her yet, just in case she turns out to be The Replacement’s Replacement’s Replacement. But I think she’s going to stick around. Her colors are true. Which, you know, kind of made me dance a little. Once I resumed breathing. Because I was totally holding my breath while she ran her initial setup and I waited to open that email with the test images.

Plus, I kind of feel like she and I already have a connection on account of her initials are HPTS, you know, like HPTs. (Come on, you know, like: home pregnancy tests.) And probably I’ve used somewhere in the vicinity of 519 HPTs (give or take, obvs) in the last half decade. So, that she would be numbered 520 of the HPTS I’ve brought home? OtherSuch fitting.

She could only be more meant for me if instead of the round little HP logo, she’d shown up with a uterus engraved on the edge of her screen casing. Or two ovaries. Or two ovaries plus an ugly, hairy ol’ cyst. That’s a story for another day.

But until then, maybe I should confess that I threw the hairy thing in there for effect. I don’t think ovarian cysts actually have hair.

If viewed on The Replacement’s Replacement’s screen, though? I’m quite sure they’d be yellow.

 ————————-

***Edited to add: I think Mr. Wizard is correct in his comment that one of the differences between the coloration shown on the two Dell screens is attributable to the type of screen. Old Deller was LCD; The Replacements were LED. Without a lick of technical knowledge about back lighting or color temperature (no really–my formal training is in cervical dialoguing and salsa-making), it makes perfect sense to me that images would not be exact duplicates when the type of screen is different. What I do know is this: the HP screen (which is also LED) is a happy compromise between the overly-cool tones of Old Deller (that I often tried to correct through Photoshop as I think the coolness was likely equally a camera issue) and the way-too-overly-warm-for-my-eyeballs tones of The Replacements.

Apparently there’s a even a guy named Kelvin somewhere who monitors the temperatures of colors. Mr. Wizard teaches me new things all the time. (Or tries, at least!)

I wish I’d thought to snap a photo with my phone when I had all three monitors set up, before The Replacements were shipped back to Dell. For one, all those monitors squeezed onto the little kitchen desk space had a real how-many-clowns-can-she-fit-in-that-car effect. For two, the side-by-side comparison would have said it better than me. (I did not just admit that. No picture is worth the 2,081 words with which I can belabor this post. For real: 2,081. Before that last sentence anyway. Now: 2,091.)

The best I can do now is a screen shot with the Dell comparison photo overlaid on the HP’s background image. (Not quite the same because the HP image isn’t filtered through the iPhone, but there are only so many layers of crazy I can stage today.) I haven’t asked Kelvin, but I think the HP has a nice, normal 98.6 temperature. Color me satisfied. 

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3 comments to “Well, that was a nightmare,” said The Lady of OtherSuch Manor

  • Wizard

    Thanks for the photo side by side comparison … Now to me, the screen on the left has a bluish tint as compared to the one on the right which seemed, to me, warmer, more natural and more appealing…

    In this instance I think the issue was one more of the source back-lighting type and temperature of that light. Your old Dell screen on the left is backlit by flourescent lighting, wheras the Dell 2320, I believe, has LED back-lighting. That, in and of itself, will make a difference. Then there is the factor of color temperature, measured in Kelvins. You got Warm to Cool lighting available with the warms giving off the more yellowish tone and the cool giving off a bluish tone (2,700K to 6,500K) You can even purchase your household lighting this way … Warm-white, Cool white and the ever more popular daylight or full spectrum bulbs.

    I stand with you 100% accurate color representation is important. To that end then it is equally important to know a monitor’s color temperature for accurate photo representation. It is not a spec that is normally mentioned, but it is maybe one that should be. A little known factoid is that Digital cameras, web graphics, DVDs, etc. are normally designed towards the blue (6,500K) end of the spectrum. (Did the geek in me just come through again? Dang, he’s difficult to suppress)

    In any event, I’m glad that you’re glad (and your hubby is probably glad too, you know that hell hath no fury thing and all not to mention being scorned by your PC….Yeah, Wow!!) and I hope you enjoy your new machine! (I checked out the specs … Hubba-hubba, Trophy PC!) Now, take the old trusty Dell, clean it up, wipe the hard drive, re-install the software and set it up as the dedicated “Kid” or “4-Y-O” computer. You’ll be happy you did! I know I was when I did that because when my kids f-ed up their machine for the first (second and third) time, I breathed a sigh of relief that it was not my PC, which was the whole point of a kids machine anyway.

    • Good points on the LCD/LED difference. I wikied (wiki’d?) Kelvin and learned something new today! Wiki had some good reading on it (if it’s accurate), including about photography and digital cameras, so I’m glad you mentioned ol’ Kelvin. Wish I’d gotten a comparison shot of all the monitors lined up. Edited post to add the best I could do for a screen comparison of all three. Based on what wiki said about Kelvin, I’m now guessing that the 2320 just has a much lower temperature that accounts for the skew toward more yellowishness. I couldn’t find it in the 2320 spec list on the website, but I would be interested in knowing how the 2320 and the HP compare in monitor color temperatures. Not so interested that I’ll keep Googling…but idly-curious anyway. :)

  • Cathi

    I feel your pain on this! BTDT many times. I despise looking for new monitors for this very reason. As you can imagine.. true color representation is all too important for me! Glad you found one! Ill keep that in mind! I’m about ready for a new one myself.. past ready.. and this is why lol

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