I bought a new monitor. Last Christmas my wonderful wife gave me a present: she hand-made an Apple monitor and wrapped it with a note that said, “I don’t know which one you want, but let’s get you something nice.” That cardboard cutout was as close as I’m ever going to get to an Apple display. And it’s not that they are too expensive (they are, actually, but I’d shell out). It’s that Apple won’t sell me one. Despite what you read about Apple having its best financial quarter in history, I tell you that this company will not take my money.
I have an “older” MacBook Pro (it’s not a year old yet). I love it more than any computer I’ve had since my Amiga 2000. When I got that Christmas present from my wife, I went onto Apple’s website so she could show me what she thought I should get. Apple has this nice 24″ LCD display, which we know we like, because my wife has basically the same thing in the form of her 24″ iMac. Perfect, let’s do it.
Whoa, hold it. Did you read the fine print? This baby only works with the new mini display port found on the new “New!” MacBooks and MacBook Pros. “Hi, I was wondering if there is an adapter for this new 24″ display so it can connect to my MacBook Pro?…you don’t make one…well what can I get in the way of a display from you…the 20″ and 23″ are being discontinued?…you’re telling me to spend $2000+ on the 30″ model instead?…you have a nice day too.”
So I go and see what Dell has to offer. They have the 2408WFP which looks OK, so I read the reviews. “Do not buy this monitor if you care at all about colour.” But I decide to try it. How bad can it be? Bad. Neon green bad. Burn your eyes pink bad, and yet, incredibly, dark as the night sky at the same time. And so back it went, and I returned to my 15″ real estate.
I decide to wait it out. Surely Apple is just about to release some new displays. I mean that’s their pattern, right? Discontinue the old stuff, fill the void with something thinner, more silver, more awesome. Mac Rumors agrees with me, and has since April or 2007, like the wild “prophets” downtown who scream about the coming change: “Don’t Buy: Updates Soon.”
Well, soon came and went, and Apple still won’t do much more than give me the finger every time I go to their website (though Mike notes that their store is down today, which was most assuredly caused by me finally pulling the trigger and buying a new one from Dell last week). So I’m done waiting for Apple, and all of a sudden, right out of the back left corner of the web, I spot it: a new IPS panel from Dell, the Dell UltraSharp U2410. I’m smitten, but still I wait. It’s my default way of shopping, I never buy, just research.
Then it happens. “Dave, your monitor is on sale today for $250 off.” And I’m at the Buy button as fast as my browser can render (this nightly build is pretty fast, too). Just like that, it’s Christmas in October, and I’m waiting for Santa to arrive in his UPS truck.
When I got home from work yesterday, my wife shows me the box, and after some dinner I’m into it. I carefully open and remove all the parts and assemble the monitor. It looks gorgeous even turned off. I place it next to my laptop, connect the power, and then locate the DVI connector so I can complete the entire process and bathe in the perfect colour of this electronic prism. That’s when I notice it. The DVI cable, which was gingerly wrapped in protective wrap, then wrapped again in plastic, and covered with another layer of flexible rubber, is cut right through. There are frayed wires sticking out of it. This is a perfect metaphor for my monitor shopping experience thus far: so close, and yet, so completely without success.
This morning I woke up with an idea. I decide to go and buy a DVI cable from one of the stores in town. First shop was closed, second was closed, and the third was closed, but opening in 15 minutes. I decided that this was the perfect moment to do something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I went to a used bookstore down the road.
You might feel like this story about the experience of trying my new monitor for the first time is getting off course. That’s not only because it is, but also because stylistically, I’m taking you on a reading experience that most closely matches what it’s like to sit next to this black, powerless, box with the letters “DELL” on the bottom.
As I was saying, I went to kill some time at a local used bookstore. Now, calling this place a bookstore is not quite right. It’s a building standing alone at the end of a dirt road, a large, old, stone building, with loading docks on two sides. On the one side is a Seed depot, where farmers come to get their crop seed. On the other is a welding shop. In the middle, sits a bookstore, and the only wen to get into it is through the welding shop. I enter through a door that reads: “Welding, Books” and am greeted by a woman standing no more than four feet tall, wearing a machinist’s apron and working on an engine which is laying in pieces on the counter. I ask how to get to the books, and she motions me to follow a corridor. “The girl’s not there yet, but you’re quite welcome.”
Inside the space nestled between the seed dock and the welding shop, I find rows and rows–piles really–of old books. There is everything you can imagine here, and nothing is organized, with the exception of a large section across the front wall that reads, “Westerns.” The rows and shelves are often so close together that it’s not safe to walk between them. I see a crazy procession of things flit past my eyes:
- “What to do when you are going to die”
- IBM DOS 6.1 (boxed set, still wrapped in plastic, unopened, “new”)
- Evelyn Waugh
- Robertson Davies
- Puslinch Township maps
- Romance novels (by the hundreds)
I can’t put any shape or name to it other than to say it was what I found between two industrial loading docks on an abandoned dirt road. I’d be surprised to learn that many other people have ever gone here. But I intend to go back when I have more time and can really set myself to looking and climbing through the piles.
When I left, the woman at the welding shop counter was using a screwdriver on something I couldn’t see, and I thanked her. “You’re welcome to come again, and when the girl’s there she can find things.”
I never did get my cable. The store I originally drove to had one, but for $40 and I wasn’t in the mood to spend money for something Dell should replace. I came home and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to call their technical support. I’ve lost years of my life to Dell’s Technical Support before, and I wasn’t eager to do it today. While I searched for the phone number, I noticed a page on their site that said I could report “Missing or Damaged” orders. I filled out a form, and went back to my default pose: waiting.
What’s the the Dell 2410 like? It’s stunning turned off. I’ll have to get back to you on what it’s like when running.
P.S. being abused by high-end displays is something I do professionally.