Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down for Dell.

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’m a Dell fanboy. For the last seven years I’ve been purchasing mainly Dell equipment both personally and professionally…If you twisted my arm and forced me to guesstimate, I’d say I’ve spent (personally and professionally) in the ballpark of $500,000. Small pittance compared to some, significant compared to others. With these years of experience comes some reflections on the Dell experience – both good and bad. I’ve posted articles about Dell previously, but with time passing and new experiences contributing to my opinions, I figured it was time for yet another post…So, here goes:

The Big Picture:

Dell continues to stand head and shoulders above the competition (e.g. Toshiba, HP) from a holistic perspective – both at the end user and server/storage layers. Dell is still my solid first bet.

Thumbs Down:

Dell has some real weaknesses they need to correct. Most of these weaknesses could be correctly with fairly minor increases in monetary and time expenditure and would shoot them so far beyond the competition…These weaknesses are:

  • 3 Year NBD Warranty – I don’t have a problem getting replacement parts or service for my laptops when they die – and they do die. But lately I’ve referred a few mom’s (including my own) and co. to purchase Dell’s and have been gravely disappointed with the service Dell has rendered to them. It seems that you only get the full benefit of the warranty if you’ve spent enough hours in the trenches making these sorts of calls to know when and how to stand tough, what to ask for, and how to explain to the technician on the other end that performing another fourteen hours of diagnostics (over several phone calls) is not an acceptable solution.
  • Power Supplies – I learned a few years back that power adapters die and so I always buy a backup for my laptop. Since I have the 3 Year NBD warranty it doesn’t cost me anything to get a replacement – but really, I’m getting tired of wasting 20 minutes every time one of these power adapters fails – and I’m guesstimating I’ve gone through six of them and my three year warranty isn’t even up! No, I don’t think I’m abusing my power adapters.
  • 5400 RPM Drives – This is the one that ticks me off the most – not just with Dell but with many computer system manufacturers. When mom and dad go in to buy a laptop they are thinking of a few things: (a) how fast is the CPU? (b) how much RAM does it have? and (c) how big is the hard drive? They aren’t asking how fast the hard drive is – so they end up with really beefy machines with dual or quad core processors and 4+ GB of RAM and a 256 MB or 512 MB video card but a 5400 RPM drive! I’m calling on computer manufacturers to play fair with moms and pops and put at least a 7200 RPM drive into new machines. Hint: If you have to choose between a bigger and a faster hard drive – choose faster. If you have to choose between a faster cpu and a faster hard drive – choose hard drive.
  • Crapware – I hate the preinstalled antivirus and other junk. I’d rather people were asking me, “Hey, what should I do about antivirus?” Rather than saying, “I have Norton…” (not knowing that it was never activated, is only a trial, or expired).
  • Sales – On the professional side it can be annoying getting phone calls asking if I need to buy anything – if I do, I’ll call you (yes, I’m a little anti-social). Further, when you ask for one thing and receive another – very frustrating.

Thumbs Up:

Here is what I love about Dell…

  • Three Year NBD Warranty – If you know how to use it, it is worth every penny. For an extra $100 they fix all the hardware failures – including parts for free. They send out a tech. NBD to troubleshoot/repair. This is way beyond anything offered by the competition – where you usually send your computer in, wait one or two weeks, and then get it back…
  • Price – In general, Dell systems seem to be less expensive than the competition – even with feature parity and a 3 year NBD warranty thrown in.
  • Support / Downloads – While the support.dell.com site isn’t amazing, it is light years ahead of the competition.
  • Servers / Storage – You may admire cars – I admire servers and storage. Give me a PowerEdge server and PowerVault storage over the competition any day.
  • Sales – It all depends on the luck of the draw. Get a good sales rep. and its great. You become friends and wrangle back and forth on prices, they work hard for you and you try not to force their prices so low that they can’t feed the kids.
  • Choices – Dell has recently gone in the direction of too many choices – especially with the server line. Used to be your 1xxx where 1U servers, your 2xxxx where 2U servers and so on, now they have all sorts of different names that confuzzle me. Why are there multiple lines of 2U servers? No, I don’t buy that I need one line over another for specific purposes – just give me one base unit I can customize the way I need to for each U size.

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