back to article Why I won't buy a Dell next time

I recently bought a "Vista capable" desktop PC from Dell. It was a good opportunity to play the secret shopper and report the experience as an ordinary consumer, instead of reporting as a tech journo reviewing hardware supplied by the maker and tweaked to perfection before delivery. I had bought a PC from Dell years ago and …


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  1. rubso

    i LOL'd

    more like, PC/Windows sucks, buy a Mac, amirite? aka Free Ad for Apple.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ok, so you buy a "High End" box and moan you can't run old HDD's? That's not Dells fault, for god's sake are you going to moan it doesn't have a serial port for your modem or a Winchester drive?

    No firewire> Read the specs.

    Doesn't support Linux? That's a linux issue.

    The XP sitcker, most likely a standard sticker, so would be the same on a HP, Dell,Daves home computer etc.

    Granted Build quality is their issue, so justified there.

    I don't own a Dell and unless I win one or get given one, proberbly never will.

    For most people, out of the box is what they want.

    If you want to know excatly what your getting, build it yourself. Most 10 year olds could build a pc these days.


  3. Barry Rueger

    You Think a Mac will be better?

    Once you get past the Fan boys you'll find that Apple users have equally annoying tales to tell. An example is the power adaptor for my G4 Powerbook. It died, and when I began looking for a replacement ($99 from Apple in Canada!!) I found that more than 100 people had already left user reviews complaining about how flimsy the Apple product was. On Apple's own website!

  4. Phil Endecott

    Screen resolution or larger fonts

    Hi Thomas,

    I'm interested that you have decreased the screen resolution in order to make things more legible, rather than running at the monitor's native resolution and increasing the font sizes. Is this because there is some part of the desktop that you can't scale except by changing the resolution? Or is it that it's just simpler to change the resolution than to find the other preferences? (Excuse my ignorance, but I'm not a regular Windows user so I don't know how complex this is.)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't believe I wasted time reading this dribble

    What does your broken buzzer have to do with Dell? I bet if HP shipped the product, the buzzer wouldn't have worked either. Maybe if Toshiba shipped it... no, the buzzer still wouldn't have worked. And what delivery company tells their employees to call the recipient? A courier maybe, but not a package delivery.

    Your BMW analogy is wrong. You got something better, but without backwards compatibility. To fit the analogy, you wanted manual wind-down windows because you have a crank handle you like. The BMW came with power windows, and now you're upset because you can't use the handle.

    Many systems no longer have IDE. You mentioned the Mac (as having firewire)... Mac is SATA as well, so you'd have to get an external solution no matter what you did. Next time read the specs like the rest of us.

    As for the service tag... did you miss the screen that appears when you first power on the machine that tells you the service tag and tells you to write it down? Nice and BIG so anyone can see it.

    Sheesh. I guess no matter how well you build a system, people are still going to complain. Why not go buy a Sony now and complain about that so we can get it out of the way?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Mine (Dimension 9200) has just gone back because playing a slideshow in Vista would cause it to blue screen.

    Turns out it may be a fault on the audio controller chip... took 5 reinstalls off my own back and one that they insisted I did with them on the phone.. eventually they admitted that there may be something wrong with the machine - 5 days after I called them to say that something may be wrong with the machine.

    And it's so right about the graphics card fan - mine sounds like it is about to take off at any moment - it has got to the point that I have decided that I may invest in a passively cooled card.

    Would I buy a Dell again... never...

    I have better things to do than convince an Indian call centre that the organisation they are represented have sent me a broken machine...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here here!

    Mine (Dimension 9200) has just gone back because playing a slideshow in Vista would cause it to blue screen.

    Turns out it may be a fault on the audio controller chip... took 5 reinstalls off my own back and one that they insisted I did with them on the phone.. eventually they admitted that there may be something wrong with the machine - 5 days after I called them to say that something may be wrong with the machine.

    And it's so right about the graphics card fan - mine sounds like it is about to take off at any moment - it has got to the point that I have decided that I may invest in a passively cooled card.

    Would I buy a Dell again... never...

    I have better things to do than convince an Indian call centre that the organisation they are represented have sent me a broken machine...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't resist.

    "Dell has decided to replace the entire PC, because it'd like to examine it and learn if there's a design issue with the 9200 - a potential problem for others - or if my machine simply didn't get put together right at the Limerick plant."

    There was a computer so buzzy,

    vibrations made everything fuzzy.

    Fixes failed, Dell opined:

    "Send it back, and we'll find

    the flaw in design that's so scuzzy."

    I'll get my coat.

  9. Simon King

    Can you tie your own shoelaces?

    The poster above just about beat me to it - how the hell do you get a job writing for one of the biggest IT sites out there if you can't spec a PC from *DELL* of all people? This is the company that will default to a ball mouse on an £800 PC - of course they won't automatically put a firewire connection in there! PC's *still* don't have firewire in there as a matter of course (unlike my 7 year old G4) and I would expect him to know this. Same goes for IDE - SATA is the way forward and he's criticising this? And at the end of it all why did he not ask a colleague for advice if he's stuck?

    Oh, and the quality of the writing is pretty poor. The paragraph about the 'mystery' component upgrade made my head hurt - almost like it was written by a bottom-set GCSE student. What's scary is that this clown is thinking of becoming a switcher. Errrr - OS X sucks mate, don't bother. We don't want you.

  10. andy ward


    Personally i think the reason for not having firewire is that USB2.0 is faster..Firewire is pretty much superseeded now that usb2.0 is around!. Think you should have read your specs correctly my friend totally your fault! :-)

    My gripes with dell

    I cannot really see the point of the dell service tag system as whenever i have used it i get a whole load of drivers for hardware that i dont have in my PC/Laptop? This is because dell bulk buys the components that are cheapest at the time of build. so when buying the same machine a week later you could get different components due to dells life crap!

    I purchased two laptops from dell at Christmas and they both got stolen by the courier didn't arrive until weeks after christmas

    next time go to Hp leave dell for the home users! :-)

  11. Matthew Weekes

    Miserable sod

    I stopped reading the article when he levelled a whinge at Dell because his door buzzer doesn't work. Let alone the other nothing complaints. Linux doesn't work properly? Diddums. Vista doesn't work properly because drivers aren't ready? Blame the manufacturers, not Dell.

    Please header any future articles by this whinging, self-pitying tool with a picture of a large turd so that I can easily identify and avoid wasting my time reading them.

  12. Rob Crawford

    Of course Dell is at fault


    buy a machine without looking at the spec (at all it seems)

    Complain that the first release version of an operating system dosn't work (sheesh is this guy one of these Power Users IT & network staff love so much ?)

    Blame Dell for a linux distro not working 100% properly

    Blame Dell for Ceatives Vista not working

    His machine possibly being the sole evidence of a design failure in that range ?

    Then to say I should have bought a Mac

    Obviously he hasn't read their specs, or possibly apple have added firewire and old ATA especially for him.

    Oh Apple don't need doorbells or buzzers, because Steve Jobs teleports them into the required room.

    Grow up Sir !

  13. Michael

    you are a tech jorno?

    I'm sorry I must have miss understood. You write for the Register but don't have the ability to read the specs of a €2k+ machine? *

    Obviously your are getting too used to getting machines delivered for review.

    IDE drives are being replaced with SATA slowly but surely you should now this. We are at SATA II now. Why would you want to put old technology in a new machine? The idea was to get rid of IDE because quite frankly it just isn't good enough, the fact that SATA still supports the PIO command structure is laughable.

    Why was the buzzer Dells' problem? Sorry was that section relevant?

    You should know better than most the issues surrounding Vista and driver support. Those people that use Linux have been suffering similar problems for years. Deal with it. Check the spec first and order something that is going to work.

    Again, you say that everything in XP worked fine. Why upgrade if you don't need to. Vista has introduced a whole host of issues. Wait for them to be resolved like any sensible person and install it after service pack 1 or 2 and leave the beta testing to the home user.

    * The Reg is obviously paying well, I'd love a job. If I can afford to order the wrong hardware because I can't be bothered to read the spec it sound like the job for me. And obviously you don't need to know the first thing about PCs or current technology trends. Oh bugger, I do...

  14. Hywel Thomas

    Drives would be an issue ona Mac too

    The overall quality would be much higher on a Mac, but they obviously have the odd glitch too. And the odd Friday machine, I'm sure.

    The issue of the hard drives / IDE interfaces would exist on a Mac too. I had this problem in 2003 and had to buy a firewire enclosure to hold my old drive. Apple are more ruthless in ditching the old. Floppy drives went in 1999. Older serial ports were ditched in favour of USB around the same time. SCSI ditched for those ATA drives too.

    DVI got switched to (the marvellously tidy) ADC and then back to DVI again, so expensive adapters may be needed to use old-ish Apple displays (like mine) with new machines (a problem I could handle).

    I think not checking for firewire was a little odd, but most out-of-the-box consumers wouldn't be checking this and would find that their camcorders had nowhere to plug in. I'd have thought video was a pretty important application for a lot of users (after mail and net porn, admittedly), so to exclude it from such a machine, while not a surprise, still sucks.

  15. Eric

    I agree about the firewire...

    Even my Mom's $300 Compaq has a firewire port on it, it can't be that expensive to put on the system, and I think today people just assume their new computer will have one.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm indeed

    IDE ports are not listed on the specs, and you can see from the 'inside the case' photo on the Dell site that there are no IDE cables... and it clearly says "Optional:IEEE 1394" on the tech specs page.

    To reduce the graphics card fan noise, try changing the option in the advanced power options for PCI Express to maximum power savings ... it should then become barely audible unless gaming.

  17. August West


    "I never thought to check the detailed spec sheet"

    Well that is your fault and not Dell's. You work in the technology field, I would think you'd be savvy to checking the specs of an item b4 plunking $$$.

    Next time mate, do your homework.

    Sux about the shoddy assembly tho..

  18. Craig

    Tech Journo?...

    No ATA connections?

    - For USD$10 you can buy adapters that will plug into your old IDE drives and then you connect a SATA cable to the adapter. I am sure that they are available in Europe as well.


    - As others have said. Read the specs!

    -- My Rant --

    Firewire is a data transfer port developed and backed by Sony and Apple. It is no suprise then that any Apple machine purchased will contain one. Firewire never took off as it was expected to because just as devices were starting to need the sort of bandwidth provided the USB consortium approved USB 2.0 which allowed speeds almost equal to that of Firewire. With the licensing fee of USB being cheaper and many more companies supporting it and already having worked with it Firewire was relegated to high end devices and all products manufactured by it's two biggest proponants (Apple and Sony).

    I think for you to call yourself a tech journalist you should at least be aware of things like IDE/SATA converters before you complain about a manufacturer not anticipating every move you make with your computer. Would you bash apple for no longer having SCSI connectors in the new Macs? What if you wanted to transfer data from an old Mac you had when Apple used high quality parts?

    Don't take my post as a defense of Dell or Apple bashing. I both own an Apple and I build my own PCs. No company is perfect. No company is pure evil. If you don't like Microsoft don't buy their products. If you like Apple that much buy theirs.

    As an aside. Since most people don't know how to download and create cd's of a linux distro and end up paying for a boxed copy in the store how is it so much cheaper then OS X or Windows? I am not refering to you (reader) in particular but can your grandmother?

    Please think before you flame.

    -- Rant Off --

  19. Angus

    Absolute rubbish

    "The video card fan runs continuously at its highest speed, making the noise absolutely intolerable. The machine is useless to me with Linux."

    Install the proper drivers....

    I have the same video card in the same machine (Dimension 9200) - yes it does run with the fan at the highest speed in linux - until you install the proper nvidia drivers. I have a different sound card in my machine but I'd be amazed if it was anything other than your incompetence causing the problem. Other than that - a terrible article - well done.

  20. Steven Walker

    Craig is just plain wrong!

    ...when he said

    "As an aside. Since most people don't know how to download and create cd's of a linux distro and end up paying for a boxed copy in the store how is it so much cheaper then OS X or Windows?

    He can buy any one of a number of magazines for around £6 and they will include a cover disk of whatever distro(s) they are doing that month. He can even have a free disc posted to him if he asks at Or ask the nearest LUG who will probably help him install it too.

    But if Craig really want me to prove Linux is more expensive than Windows/Mac he can send me a couple of grand and I will send him a copy of any distro he chooses :)


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair?

  22. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Dell clutter nightmare

    I was given the task of getting someone's new Dell laptop online last night. Given the really awful default setup of XP, I would certainly avoid a Dell laptop.

    The desktop has so much bundled junk, internet trials, anti-virus, Dell support control panel etc.. etc..

    Bootup to usable desktop was of the order of 2-3 minutes on a brand new laptop. This is even before XP has started to slow down as it typically does.

  23. Rich

    You get what you pay for

    I'd never buy a Dell anything.

    Apart from anything else, they're a leading mailer of large amounts of annoying junk mail, spam faxes, etc. They seem to have only been stopped from spam emailing by it being illegal.

    They're sold through the Warehouse (a leading NZ seller of cheap junk) FFS! Would you buy allegedly enterprise class equipment from a place that's only one level up from a market stall?

    HP and IBM have a duopoly of quality PCs. If you aren't going to buy one of those, you're better off finding a good unbranded system builder.

  24. Larry


    Maybe this guy should buy a Mac, he is obviously clueless when it comes to purchasing a customized PC.

  25. Craig

    Linux Distro cost

    Thank you for missing the point and not reading the entire post Steve.

    Let me say once again. I am talking about an average person. Your mother, grandmother, your aunt who has trouble holding the mouse. While the people who read this site are probably savy enough to get a linux distro for free and probably even install it these aren't the majority of computer users.

    If everyone were as smart as you obviously are then we would all have free software, the $100 billion dollar software indsutry would be non existant and maybe the French would even be able to win a war.

    That isn't the case however. A lot of people need the ability for the computer to do everything for them. Insert disc and the song or video plays, or the game loads, or whatever else they do. THESE people are the ones that can't find free linux distros easily.

    Steve, why is it I should send you thousands of dollars for linux distro? Are you implying that is the cost of Windows or OS X?

    Linux: $0-$79 for an average distro. RH 5 ES is a lot more but comes with support. Patches are free but depending on the distro can be difficult for the average person to install.

    Vista: ~$100-$400 depending on version and upgrade eligibility. New versions released every 4-5 years and require a new purchase. Intermediate service packs are free.

    OS X: $129 new versions come out every 12-18 months and require a new purchase at $129.

    If linux does ever take off as a desktop OS expect to see companies migrate to Apple's business plan where they use a free kernal and add their own code on top of it then charge a lot for it. (a lot being relative to the $0 of the kernal and underlying OS)

  26. Scoot

    Macs are for stupid people, like the author of this article

    The first thing the author comes up with as an alternative to the Dell he ordered is to get a Mac. Hello? There is more than one PC manufacturer/builder, whereas there's only one Apple.

    OK, so Vista isn't perfect, but Microsoft (unlike Apple) have to contend with many varying combinations of hardware. I expected Vista to have problems when it was first released, but that's par for the course.

    Here's my reasons for not wanting to get a Mac...

    For starters, I don't see how Mac OS X is any better than Windows XP or Vista. To me, Mac OS seems dumbed down. I can't totally remember, but the right-click context menus are off by default, I think. Its standard web browser, Safari, doesn't have tabs enabled by default and its not very customisable - well, it doesn't make it apparent whether its easily customisable. The green "optimise" window button is somewhat misleading when I click it - to me a plus means "more" or "bigger", whereas optimising something can go both ways. And why can't I resize windows from any edge??? Oh, and don't get me started about the "it just works" cobblers - I've had a number of peripherals not work correctly with Mac OS X. I'm not saying Mac OS X is all bad, its just too dumbed down for me.

    If anything, the author of this article has just proven to me he deserves a Mac... or a typewriter, or a pen and paper. Just anything that doesn't exceed his IQ!!!

  27. Lucy Wilkinson


    im sorry to say stop moaning!!!!!

    btw you write like your a GSCE student! (your not are you??)

    "I never thought to check the detailed spec sheet"

    check the spec sheet next time!!! you work in a computer field dont you?? or even if you didnt then you still should know that you should check the specs of anything before buying anything!!

  28. Kurt

    Your just confermed what we already know.

    It's not just Dell.

    Cutting corners is part of the survivability of todays business. Paying more doesn't mean you get a fault free anything. The consensus seems to be, jam the most advanced technology, into the cheapest parts, and charge a premium, not for the parts, but for the tech.

    Don't bite at what's new, wait till the bugs get worked out, read some reviews, drink some Java. Too bad though, by the time you see a review, the product is considered old, and it is no longer supported anyway.

  29. B0z0

    Thats what I'm talking about!

    Yep, the fool should not be reporting for El Reg!

    Yep, He really a user - thus should own an Apple!

    Dell are cheap what do you expect! - (Earlier comments appreciated)

    Build your own PC if your that fussy what it comes with!

    Get a copy of Backtrack for some serious fun OS. - If you want it to look like a mac - get a theme (Did i just say that? - I need shooting!).

    Bet the wak mofo also fails to realise games were written on a PC before ported to a console! - Irrelevant i know, but as everyone else is having a rant.

    Hello Mum!

  30. Joe Cincotta


    Ok, I know there are like a zillion comments to this article but I also felt compelled to donate my point of view. Actually, my rectum clenched so hard it was in a spasm which would not release until I started typing a reply simply because this article annoyed me so much. Actually, it wasn't even the article - it was the comments too. BUT NOT FOR THE REASONS YOU THINK.

    Whilst the fanboy twitter for Apple and Linux and other miscellanous vendors - and of course Dell - made me wince, it all danced around the two real problems which exist in the hardware industry right now:

    Components are made like complete shite and have mortality rates which would make any other consumer sector expect to be sued in to oblivion but the economic pressure and economies of scale which exist in this industry have forced it to evolve to this crazy situation.


    The service model for outsourced hardware support is so infinitely screwed up with huge competition and such vast demand on the (low cost) service that complete imbeciles are in the field blaming users for problem from the crap quality of components (and quality-bereft drivers) which the actual builders of the systems have bugger all control over.

    Dell simply exist in the midst of the problem and I am sure perpetuate it by selecting low cost components to keep the cost of manufacture down. Which is exactly what most other manufacturers do - Apple has drawn a sort of middle ground by massively limiting options and extending the retooling lifecycle to reduce cost rather than use completely crud components, but just because the exterior is swank doesn't mean that they are not using suppliers who don't have production problems of their own and quality gaps like hell just like every one else - Intel included.

    The bottom line is this: with the competitive price pressure in the PC industry as it is, if you buy anything more than a bloody desk calculator expect it to screw up or not work properly. And when you tell someone to fix it (since you paid for your extended warranty) expect to be asked to diagnose the problem and it will be your fault anyway.

  31. Sam Liddicott

    reading the service tag from linux

    use the dmidecode program, and you'll see the service tag in the first few records along with lots of other interesting and possibility inaccurate information.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you want it right, build it yourself

    Amazed by the arguments marshalled here against buying, not just a Dell, but any Windows PC. The author seems to be making just about every error that all the other computing journo's spend their time telling us to avoid.

    Hard to think of parallels here, but maybe:

    I bought a Perodua (so beloved by Jeremy Clarkson), and it didn't do all I expected of it. Never going to buy a car again.


    My Boeing 747 had a few problems; think I'll buy an Airbus 380.

  33. Ed Courtenay

    Hardly Suprising

    I'm not suprised at the pre-primary school level of comprehension displayed in this frankly appalling article; this is the same author that produced this 'gem' from his review of Vista for El Reg []:

    "Next, there's the Flip-3D feature, which gives you a moving Rolodex view of your open windows. When the one you want comes into view, you stop flipping at that point and it opens for you. Unfortunately, there seems not to be a reverse feature on this little merry-go-round, so if you miss your stop, round you go again. I wonder when I might ever find it useful, as I rarely have enough windows open to make a challenge out of finding whatever I want in the taskbar. I rather think it's there merely because it's "cool". And I'll confess; I've played with it a few times. I've never used it, mind, but I have fiddled. And it is rather cool, actually. And pretty useless."

    Hmmm, right - the Shift key modifier has worked with the Alt-TAB combination since Windows 3.0 (and possibly since Windows 2.0, but I can't remember it that clearly). Or maybe he's never come across a mouse with a scroll-wheel perhaps.

    Quite frankly, another shoddy article from a dubious excuse for a journalist. Another one for /dev/nul methinks...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost Cutting Shock?

    It would appear that The Reg. is embarking on a cost cutting exercise by employing 14 year olds to write articles. Its sad that the quality of writing just insn't what it used to be. Next time I will take some sound advice and go to a site with articles written by grown ups.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My new Dell is Great

    I just bought a C521, 2Gb RAM, 19" screen for under £400 quid with Vista Home Premium. Works fantastic, absolute value for money.

    YOU didnt read the spec, can't run your old drives, uninstalled the Dell software, have poor eyesight and can't answer your own front door. That's hardly Dell's fault. Build your own if you want something custom built.

  36. Greg

    You paid HOW MUCH??

    Perhaps it's because I'm a Yorkshireman. Perhaps not. But when I read this...

    "It certainly runs my applications well. It's not a gamer's box, but its performance is quite good doing the things that I use it for."

    You paid two grand for a machine and it's NOT A GAMER'S BOX?? You don't even want to know what I built for two and a half grand, but it's sure as hell a gamer's box! What's that down to, then? Vista being a resource hog? Dell being overpriced? Some others in the comments section have suggested you build your own machines in future. I agree, but for a different reason - the amount you will save over Dell will be astronomical.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a moaner

    I only read the first page of this before deciding to post this as this guy clearly likes to moan about everything. I imagine he's the person you get stuck behind you while in the queue at Tesco who likes to whinge about how long things are taking.

    Not long ago I bought 35 systems from Dell for my previous employer, a mix of Optiplex desktops and Latitude notebooks. I'd always had a thing *against* Dell up until that point as you know what...not a single one of them had *any* issues whatsoever, even after remotely installing all software to them and giving them to users who used to quite frequently manage to break things in the most impossible of ways.

    The build quality on all of them was very good and even when I asked to customise one of them so that an employee in Portugal could have one (Portuguese OS, Euro power adapter), everything came pre-configured and packaged ready to go.

    So in short, I'm not disputing the poster had issues, sure sometimes you can get a duff machine but the fact that Dell sent someone out and even replaced his machine so they could investigate the problem with the card reader tells me that this guy is in fact nothing more than a big moaner.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really poor reporting

    What a sad letdown to the normally very good journalism of El Reg. You sound like a teenager having a winge because it isn't exactly what you wanted, but the reason for that was you were too lazy to read everything properly. There are reasons not to buy from Dell, but blaming them for your incompetence is not one of them. I manage around 600 Dell clients and the reason we have so many is because they are reliable and of a good build quality. The only issue I do have with Dell is that when a fault does occur, I cannot deal with the Indian call centre. I cannot understand them, they cannot understand me. They read from a script and want yes or no answers to everything rather than an explanation. On the other hand, if you get the scottish or irish call centre they are excellent at understanding that many things they are given on their checklist you have already tried and I can usually get a replacment part ordered in around 10 minutes. You have let yourself and El Reg down with this article.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mac for me

    I'm a software developer, studied CS etc. Used to build my machines since an early age. However as time goes on and my time has become more valuable, I use a mac now. I built and ran pc's with 95,98,me,2000,xp,vista,fedora,red hat, gentoo and tbh the one with zero errors to date is my mac. No lie at all. Flawless would be a perfect word to describe my experience so far. I spend my day fixing software bugs for customers, its not what I want to do at home. period. Of course gaming could be an issue but I have a ps3/360 for that. To say macs are for stuipd people is wrong, I can do every single damn thing on my mac that I could on my xp, including all my coding work. And not one virus or trojan. Just accept that apple do have a good OS, chose one which suits your needs but do some rtials for yourself before slamming it.

  40. Jolyon

    Paid by the word?

    Pages and pages of whiny rubbish.

    Almost convinced me to buy a Dell.

    Or was that the aim all along?

    Still 10/10 for ego.

    If I hadn't check the spec, if I had bought an expensive monitor and was running it at lower than its native resolution, if I had installed a new operating system hosing away the supplier's support tools in the process and if my doorbell not working had delayed delivery I'd be a bit embarrassed about it. Particularly if I was a 'tech journo'.

    But I guess if we have learned anything from Big Brother it's that showing yourself to be an idiot needn't harm a career.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eh? is right

    I ordered virtually the same PC as our scribe, and had a totally different experience.

    I was prepared for no IDE ports, and made sure that I could transfer my material.

    It was delivered one day early, no problems (my doorbell works).

    I was a bit taken aback with no serial/parallel ports, but got an adapter so my older printer works.

    There is no noise problem with the computer at all; it's quiet as a mouse.

    I've not yet had to contact them with any problems, but with my previous Dell PC (still going after 3+ years) when I did have a problem they were gracious and helpful.

    I don't need a Firewire, but have one on my sound card. Which installed beautifully in place of the one Dell sent with the machine.

    I will buy a Dell again (I have a Mac, three Dells, and a Rock) when and if I need my next computer. The transition was almost painless from older Dell to new Dell and I got everything I wanted.

  42. Pat Dougan

    If it's not referenced....

    Whilst the overwhelming opinion here is seems to be "read the spec", I have two issues with this.

    1. The reviewer pointed out that the spec list made no mention of firewire in the original spec, this coming a month later.

    2. The reviewers visual impairment.

    Referencing point 1. If the spec makes no mention of the mobo's northbridge chip would it be reasonable to assume that there wouldn't be one? I don't think so. Sometimes it's perfectly reasonable to assume that equipment comes specced to a standard. DV cameras almost all have firewire, not USB 2, therefore I don'tt hink it's unreasonable to assume that a high end "entertainment PC" will come fitted with such ports. Firewire is pretty much industry standard and I don't think it's down to the user to check the small print. If the spec doesn't say two button mouse, what do we get? That's right, we assume!

    Regarding point two - There seems to be something of a useability problem on the website configurator. Surely it's not beyond the ken of the website guys to summarise the PC you get with a "check carefully before buying" warning? People with poor eyesight regularly get a raw deal in this regard, and are expected to suck it up like the rest of us. It's not difficult and it might just help those amongst us who assume that certain things in a PC will be standard fit.

    The point regarding Linux has more to do, I think with commentary on Dell's hardware strategy. If Linux won't run, that might be linux's problem, but is it really so difficult to spec a high end PC with parts that will actually leave the platform open to OS's other than MS boatware? Surely the whole point behind the PC was the modularity, and configuarability. If you can't configure a PC with a different, compatible OS then you'd be as well buying an utterly closed system! It's a nonsense.

    I'm also going to take a volt face and say I thought the article was well written. It was subjective certainly...but then it wasn't a review of the PC! It was a review of the customer experience. That has to be subjective. Yes, the buzzer being broken isn't Dells fault - but the miscommunication of delivery dates most certainly was. The difficult contacting the courier certainly was.

    Ultimately, people are buying Macs because they are sick and tired of the hell that buying a PC is becoming. Will this hardware work with that OS? The sticker says yes, the computer says no. Bill Gates has destroyed the concept of the PC. He's turned it into expensive throwaway garbage, and in the process made companies like Dell utterly unresponsive to customer requirements. When you buy a Dell do you get the best hardware? No, do you get the fastest PC? No, what you get is what Bill Gates says you will have.

    Wake up guys. The PC is dead.

    I enjoy Thomas C Greene's articles, and hope there are many more! Regardless of whether they are written on PC or Mac!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firewire vs. USB 2.0

    People seem to be missing the point that a top rated Firwire port can transfer 800Mbps vs. USB 2.0's paltry 480Mbps, never mind the fact a Firewire transfer requires less supervision from the CPU.

  44. August West

    USB2 is utterly worthless?

    I dont think the point was firewire is almost double the speed of USB.

    The point is read the specs b4 you purchase and dont whine when something isnt included even if you thought it should be.

    And I dont think USB2 is utterly worthless as the previous poster seems to believe.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a few remarks

    The writer seems to assume too many things and makes too many mistakes. If he wants a system that does what he needs, then maybe he should build one himself.

    There were issues he mentioned:

    -noisy card reader: clearly an assembly problem, but it's strange that nobody ever tought of using soft spacers under the screws

    -delivery and door bell: clearly a problem with the age of the writer, much like his bad eyesight

    -euro connector: he should have bought the speakers with the right connector on the webpage

    -vista problem: that's clearly the problem of creative and not even microsoft can do anything about it (they don't have the source for the drivers either)

    -thin case: this is the result of cost and environmental impact reduction, today almost every computer case has this 'problem'

    -firewire: the intel motherboard chipset he choose doesn't have firewire, but adding a firewire card would be the simple option (since then also available on the dell website)

    And one more thing about apples: Apple computers are just pc-s these days, so there is really no difference between a dell, a hp or an apple, except that apples are allowed to run macos-x too, which is an easy to use unix variant. (mach kernel, nextstep desktop, bsd utilities and gnu tools) An alternative to buying an apple is assembling a linux system. And since macos-x is almost as compatible with non apple hardvare as any linux distro, you should compare macos-x with modern linux and not windows. Most people buy macs because they don't need more or don't want to learn how to use anything else, which is pretty important. The downside is a big difference in price. The famous stability of apple machines come from the fact that there are almost no third party drivers for macos-x. As soon as you start using one, the stability of a mac pc (intel mac) is the same as any other pc running windows.

  46. Declan

    Some good, lots bad

    No offence mate but while I agree with several points that you made in this review and I too will never buy Dell again I believe your review reflects an unreasonable level of expectation from Dell or any company.

    You ordered product X, you wanted product Y and Dell shipped you product X. Not Dells fault! If you had particular requirements then you should have checked the unit you were buying met those requirements.

    Delivery, I agree with you that in Ireland Dells courier service is pretty poor on giving out delivery information and order tracking but I've found they do deliver on schedule. Though I've had issues with how they store some items, I once got a laptop and the case was in a separate box which was delivered first thing one morning and when it was taken out of the van it was covered in frost so it had obviously been stored out doors. I wasnt happy. That said I never expected them to ring me after all if they start that they would spend hours sitting in vans waiting for people to come back from the shops. Also its totally unreasonable to expect them to some how know your doorbell didnt work, which you knew it didnt work yet you appear to have done nothing to get it fixed, nothing to inform those calling at your door and nothing to try and watch out for the van yourself. Could you not have worked in a room with a view of the path to your door?

    Build quality, this is why I wont purchase Dell again. The build quality and reliability is woeful of late. I had a Dell Inspiron 5150 and the bits just didnt fit together properly, even when I tried unscrewing them and putting them back together the edges just would not line up at all. Compared to my current Sony Vaio the Dell was designed by amateurs. It is currently a shell of a laptop having died from a faulty power connector on the motherboard shortly after my warranty expired. I gave up on Dell and switched to Sony. Where I disagree with you is blaming a particular plant for quality or Friday syndrome. Once off things can be put down to individual workers. Dells problems seem so wide spread that it's a corporate level issue and changes in quality must be driven from above if they are to mean anything.

    Finally this "Vista Capable" lark, I blame Dell and other PC manufacturers for putting the stickers on, but I blame Microsoft for the poor state of their OS.

  47. conan

    We're not all "tech journos"

    To me the author's stance seems perfectly reasonable. He ordered an expensive product from Dell as an average customer - the fact that he is a technically minded journalist has no bearing on whether Dell's service is good or not. I'm a programmer and have built countless PCs for myself and my work in the past, but I would never recommend that a non-techie (Dell's target audience, remember) build their own or try to decipher the spec sheet, as either of these tasks would take weeks to get right for someone with little or no experience of computer hardware. The average customer buys a PC from a reputable company like Dell because they're hoping it will work by and large the way they want it to. I'd say that for the average user, a Mac will fulfill that want better than a PC.

    As for the specific complaints, I agree fully with Pat's post above. I don't know anybody that doesn't have a firewire port on their computer, so I would expect to get one when buying myself. The machine has a floppy connector and not IDE - I don't believe there's more demand for 3.5" floppy support than IDE hard drives today, so Dell's made a bad call including one when they could include the other. In that vein, I'm buying from Dell, not their suppliers, so if components or drivers aren't up to scratch then Dell's at fault. If I paid 2000 euros to Dell, I'd expect them to make an effort to contact me if I didn't answer the door - the delivery is by Dell's contractor, not mine, so their mistake is Dell's mistake as far as I'm concerned. My local dealer would at least text me in similar circumstances, so there are suppliers out there providing a better service than Dell; besides, if you went to a friend's house expecting them to be there to return a book you'd borrowed, would you call them when you found they weren't there? It's common courtesy, and Dell are being rude if they don't extend that courtesy to their customers.

  48. John Borgoy

    Some good -- some just silly

    While some of the complaints were valid, the whine about the broken buzzer is silly -- and harms the writer's credibility. Alllowing content blaming Dell for the author's inability to RTFM casts a poor light on the Reg's editors.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why buy Dell?

    To some extent, I have to agree with the author. Dell's service has gone downhill. I used to work for a company that bought only Dell for PCs and x86 servers, but we had a couple of bad experiences with them.

    1. we bought a server from them with linux on it - their approved version of RedHat at the time. We had an issue with the network card, called in for support and they told us to go talk to the NIC vendor, as it wasn't Dell's problem. We had to fight to get support.

    2. bought a Clariion disk array upgrade from them. They sent their 'Professional Services' in to do the work, and put the wrong firmware on it and totally hosed the array.

    Dell's other problem is the model they use. They don't really do much R&D. They are more of a systems assembler than anything else - they source the parts from the cheapest place available and do little to no design themselves. That's how they're able to offer stuff at low prices and still make some money - put the cheap low quality crap in the box and pass it off as decent.

    I wouldn't touch Dell with a pole these days - much better to go HP in my opinion, if you're going for a windows PC. HP has far superior support. You could as the author suggests get a mac - they're pretty decent, with the nice front end on top of a solid stable UNIX environment that is easy to support and just works. The equipment is also very elegant looking and no longer way more expensive than a std PC.

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