Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Dell computers are a mainstay in my home and business. My experience over many years has been, and continues to be, very good.

I'm taking a bit of a risk with today's recommendation because I know that Dell has its detractors and horror stories. The question as a friend put it is "do they have more, on average, as compared to other computer manufacturers?"

My opinion is they do not.

But I do have a few suggestions to make your Dell experience more like mine, and less like the ones getting all the negative publicity.

I own, or have owned, probably a dozen Dell computers over the years. Each has served me well, and each has lasted longer than the ever-increasing system requirements of operating systems like Windows. My Dells don't leave because they've irreparably failed; they're more likely to fall out of use because they can no longer be expanded to support the latest version of Windows, or handle newer and more demanding applications. My Dells have all lasted for years.

"My Dells have all lasted for years."

Dell machines are easily configurable and customizable when purchased, and similarly, I've had no difficulty ordering replacement parts or upgrades when needed. When my wife's Latitude D610 needed a new keyboard I spent a few minutes on the Dell site, and a few days later I had a replacement keyboard installed. The Dell site could certainly use some clearer organization when it comes to searching for parts and documentation, but by-and-large almost everything you might want for a computer you've purchased from Dell is there somewhere.

Dell often gets a bad rap for customer service. I do believe that they've been actively addressing that in recent years, but the bad press that they've received continues to haunt them. (Sadly, all the people having good experiences aren't nearly as likely to write or publicize it. Only bad news makes news.)

As I said, I've been somewhat hesitant to formally recommend Dell simply because I know it fly's in the face of a lot of what's out on the web - horror stories. But what made me finally change my mind was my most recent good experience with Dell support.

Yes, my good Dell experience.

As I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks ago, my Dell Latitude D620 died a hard death while I was on vacation and would not boot, alerting me that there was no hard disk installed (when of course there was).

On my return, I contacted Dell support via a web form and subsequently via email and laid out the problem asking what my options were. They responded, within a day, suggesting that I try a "known good hard drive" to isolate the problem, and report back. My feeling was that it was the motherboard at fault, since it would also not boot from the CD-ROM, but their advice made sense. Unfortunately, I had no spare "known good" hard drives to test with.

My approach was to take the drive to another machine, and see if the drive could be accessed there, making it the "known good". To my surprise, it failed. In fact, the machine also failed to see its primary hard drive while my laptop drive was installed. I removed the laptop drive, and the machine returned to normal operation.

Clearly Dell's suggestion to test was appropriate: the drive was indeed at fault.

I reported back via email, and their response, again in less than 24 hours, was "a replacement drive is already on its way". And to my surprise "and it includes a Windows Vista DVD so you can reinstall". I had ordered my machine with Windows installation media, which I strongly recommend everyone do for situations like this, but it was wonderful to see Dell avoid this issue by simply including it since it was going to be needed.

Two days later the drive arrived, I installed it, ran SpinRite (the fact that it would boot from CD again was very good sign), and then began installing Windows Vista. The next day my laptop was back in service.

It's hard not to want to recommend a company based on this experience alone, but add my decade or more of satisfaction with Dell hardware and any issues I've had in the past, and it's clear, to me, that Dell is worth your serious consideration.

I do have some specific recommendations when considering a Dell (or perhaps even any brand):

  • Don't buy the lowest end model. Latitudes, for example, are decidedly "mid-range" Dells, and seem to be built more ruggedly than their slightly less expensive Inspiron line. I had an Inspiron for some time, but currently have three Latitudes of varying ages in use.

  • If you can, enter through the small business portal or choice. You'll be offered slightly more rugged machines, but I've also heard (and it is just hearsay) that the resulting account management and support you're assigned is slightly better.

  • Don't buy the latest and greatest, instead buy the models that have proven themselves over time. Were I to purchased another laptop today I'd likely get the Latitude D630, the successor to the D600, D610 and D620 that I already own. It may not be as sexy as some of the newer models featured on Dell's pages, but I'm not looking for sexy, I'm looking for a computer that I can rely on.

  • Consider that warranty, particularly when it comes to laptops. The fact is things can and do break, particularly hard drives. My laptop was under warranty, and I'm certain that's part of what contributed to my excellent experience.

  • Backup! Backup! Backup! I can't stress this enough, something will fail at some point no matter where you get it from. The fact that my complete hard disk failure was an inconvenience rather than a disaster was simply due to the fact that everything on it was backed up in one way or another.

All in all my personal experience with Dell has been solid for many years. This last good experience with their hardware support only solidified my good feelings.

Sure, read the gripes and complaints, but realize that there are likely many more people who have had good experiences who simply aren't writing about them.

They're just busy using their Dells.

Please do not post your Dell horror story in comments here. There are many, many places where you and others can find and post your bad experiences, and I'll even link to some of them in the Related section below. I'm not trying to discourage negative comments, per se, it's just that I don't want this page to turn into another Dell-bashing venue when there are already enough others. I'll delete and close comments if that's what appears to be happening.

Article C3648 - February 12, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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49 Comments
Rosie Perera
February 12, 2009 12:00 PM

I bought my first Dell (desktop) about three years ago and have been very satisfied with it. It has managed to keep up with my intense hardware and software requirements of it for all this time without any major failures. Even a minor failure (a fan error that came up every time I booted for several months) went away by itself when I cleaned the dust out of the computer while I had it open to install something. The case is very easy to open (no tools required). I'd definitely buy a Dell again.

Bob Pellegrin
February 12, 2009 1:34 PM

I have purchased hundreds of Dell computers for myself and my customers over the years. I have been overall very happy with their products. I agree that you'll probably get much better service with their business service. I sometimes hear that people have problems with their consumer-level service, which I rarely use.

Jane
February 12, 2009 1:53 PM

I have always bought Dell. I love the fact that I can customize to my liking. And, I have always had excellent experience with Dell support - perhaps because I'm from Canada (I don't know if the support here is different from the U.S). In actual fact I have really only owned 2 Dell PCs since 1995. My first lasted 10 years and I only gave it up because like you said it couldn't handle the OS updates anymore. The second one is still running like new and it is now 8 years old.
So, yes I would and often do recommend Dell to friends & family!

Alan
February 12, 2009 8:21 PM

Dell makes perfectly competent machines from a value/productivity standpoint and I would (and have) personally recommend them for the 99% of the population that needs an appliance to do a job. Dell isn't huge by random chance, they provide the best compromise between hardware performance, durability, flexibility and support for the vast majority of users (i.e. those other than the gamer/hobbyist crowd). We've used their desktops, laptops, and servers in hot, dusty industrial environments for years and they stand up year in, year out. Even though I prefer to play around with my own builds, I still see the value in what they do. If I ran an IT department, Dell would be a top choice if only to make my life easier because there's so much less for the average user to screw up and if they do, recovery is simple. As Leo says, Dell machines usually become obsolete before they fail.

Jim
February 13, 2009 6:27 AM

I've had 2 Dells, I will never forget my one hardware failure. The CD drive failed and I called and got a real Texan on the line. He knew what he was doing and bypassed the script, confirmed the problem. At the time (about 1999)I was novice on computers, he assured me in his down home way I could do it. Said he'd get a new CD drive sent to me and then I "just slap that sucker in there". He was right, it was easy and I appreciated the local flavor. I know they've changed since then, but my first exp with them was memorable.

vincent
February 13, 2009 11:13 AM

I've had my dimension 8400 for a little over four years now and upgraded it a couple of times (added 2 500 gb drives and 2gb of ram).
The machine is still performing admirably.
Not needed support so far (touching wood) ;-)

Robert M.
February 15, 2009 4:00 PM

I had a Dimension 2400 for 8 years. It came with an on-site warranty, and I had to use it, several times. While I had some problems with this budget PC, Dell always backed up their product with service.

In fact, a failure I had a month prior to the warranty's expiration was serviced then reappeared a month after expiration.

Dell extended me "service" by replacing the entire system, with the exception of my hard drives - and covered the shipping of the old PC's return. The replaced PC went on to operate fine until the motherboard died. I was able to use the hard drives, RAM, PSU, and CD burner in other machines. I gave away the case & motherboard on FreeCycle.

I am also a big supporter of Dell's and HP's outlet offerings. The sites might not be easy to search, but their bargains and value make them my top choice when shopping for business systems. Plus, they often give full factory warranties on these refurbished/open-box PCs and laptops, and offer extended warranties, too.

Carl
February 17, 2009 9:51 AM

I've had my Dell Dimension 2400 4 years, no problems with it "Mechanically that is." Since it is my first computer I had some "Learning" problems, But wit the help from Dell support and my ISP got them solved quickly.
I've upgraded it from 512Mb to 2.0 Gb. and replaced the Graphics card, Flash card, or what ever its called, in order to better play games.

WOFTBO
February 17, 2009 9:54 AM

I do not recommend any brand, I prefer to offer my clients a few possiblities and let them choose!
Dell in general provides as good as or better products and support then their competitors.
But, I have a couple of problems with them. Their multi-level pricing approach can be a real pain. It can be difficult to determine whether the best price for a laptop is received as a consumer, small business, student, or enterprise customer.
My second complaint is Dell now expects the consumer to troubleshoot technical problems and perform technical work many consumers have no knowledge of. Leo refers to re-installing the operating system on the hard disk drive. Dell had always provided pre-imaged hard drives in the past.

Natalie Kehr
February 17, 2009 10:08 AM

I feel fortunate that my Dell Laptop was bought in the USA. I am based in the UK. The UK support have never acknowledged hardware failure until I have reformatted 3 times. I have learned to use USA support. They can't send me replacement parts, but with their help I get better support from the UK. Another advantage of USA support is that it is available 24/7. UK support is only available during UK office hours on weekdays and Saturday mornings, and the phone is continually engaged. As both support operations appear to be outsourced to India, this makes me feel particularly unloved by Dell.

My work partner has several Dells and gets good service but he is based in the USA. Until I learned to contact Dell USA myself he had to intervene on my behalf in order to get the UK to acknowledge that hardware does fail.

Roy Osborn
February 17, 2009 10:59 AM

Have been on Dell since my employer took away our Macs back in 1998. Hate Windows but have virtually no issues with the Dells (PCs and laptops both) that a quick call to the service folks didn't fix immediately. Now that I am retired, I continue to buy Dell (Latitudes, XPS series) through the "business" portal knowing that the 3 year warranty guarantees a pain-free user experience for about as long as the performance shelf-life of any machine these days. The models I buy have proven to be very reliable.

Agree that it is hard to compare across Dell models since the primary variable is the quality of the non-"commercialized" components used in construction, i.e., any component exclusive of the CPU, physical drives, and non-Dell audio/video cards.

Finally, I try to find situations where I can donate my used machines to users with ADP requirements that don't require state-of-the-art horsepower. I continue to hear positive feedback from these folks long after I expect the donated machines to have died and been buried. And that's neat.

alphaa10
February 17, 2009 4:26 PM

Leo, like many computer people, you spell exactly like you were taught English-- phonetically. For example, your recent column on Dell misspells the word "flies".

By coincidence, a news network recently misspelled the same word, and I sent them the following verse--

With deadline pressure we embrace
Any spelling which fills up the space
Hoping those paid to know better
With grammar and letter
Will ignore the "flys" on our face.

Phroggy
February 17, 2009 8:26 PM

I currently have 2 D600's. Wonderful machines that seem to handle most anything. My granddaughter uses one at college and it has survived untold use & abuse! I use the other for laptop beta testing,it handles Vista well and I'm looking forward to beta testing win7. Have never needed to use Dell support (knock on wood) the machines ARE DURABLE!!

Stephanie
February 20, 2009 2:43 PM

I've switch to Dell for my business computer need 3 years ago. Great experience, do not need to search driver over several website, you know where to call when there is a problem. I had some error in my orders, but no trouble to fix them. I won't change...

Kyle K.
February 21, 2009 11:01 PM

I have an Inspiron laptop (E1505) and my favorite thing about Dell has actually been the service. I purchased Complete Care along with the laptop, and I have used the heck out of it. Any little thing that goes wrong, at least hardware-wise, I can just call tech support and have a representative from a Dell contracting service AT MY HOUSE in a day or two. Maybe it's just the particular contracting service in my area, but the service I have received has been phenomenal.

Peter Mannell
December 22, 2009 8:33 AM

I have been in the computer industry since 1967 and working with PCs since 1983/4. Whenever anyone asks for a recommendation as to what to buy, I say "buy whatever you can afford - plenty of memory, as big a disk as you need (plus some) and as good a graphics card as you want. Buy anything you like - AS LONG AS IT'S A DELL!!"

My Dell Dimension XPS Pentium I (yes "One") originally bought with Windows 95 is still doing sterling service running Windows 2000 Server, albeit a little sluggish, but with 2 printers and a big disc, it makes an excellent home server.

Charles Tilley
December 22, 2009 9:27 AM

I have two Dell laptops (a Latitude C640 & D610), and for their age, they are excellent laptops still. I did as Leo, installing Windows 7 Pro on my D610, and the results were better than expected. The only issue that I ran into was that I could not run Virtual PC on it because of hardware issues, and doesn't support the Aero feature. These are no inconveniences for me, I'm just happy that Windows 7 Pro is running fine on it. And my C640, a 2002 model, is dual booting Win 2K Pro & XP Pro SP3 with no problems. I upped the RAM in it to 1GB, hard drive to 40GB and it has the Pentium 4 processor rather than the 3. I also installed a DVD on it. For it's age, it's still in great shape. In fact, the screen looks better and clearer than the D610. I have a new (one month old) desktop now, so the laptops are being used less now. I consider Dell to be a excellent computer maker. Even with the older systems, you can still download drivers, manuals and get tech assistance if you need it. I bought the D610 on eBay and it was out of warranty, and I didn't get reinstall media with it. The lady from Dell sent me all three reinstall discs (the OS, Roxio and Cyberlink Power DVD) for free. How's that for customer service, sending those discs for a four year old laptop for free? I highly recommend Dell to anyone. Don't listen to all of the horror stories, listen to the good ones, too.

Scribe
December 22, 2009 10:08 AM

Leo, I don't have any argument with many people's experience with Dell proving the company has an excellent product. Indeed, I found that to be the case when I bought my first laptop. The problem was with execrable support (no, I'm not going to rehash all that), which caused me to shun Dell ever since. Now that I have a smattering more skill and experience, I think I can handle most of my problems myself,so I might be willing to consider another Dell. But prudence suggests otherwise.

Scott Evans Harker
December 22, 2009 11:37 AM

Leo,

Let me concur with all that you have said: I’ve found the Dell to be a solid product, and their Customer Service is, at least, beginning to get it’s act together. But, as with any large organization, getting a business function to change it’s stripes can be like getting the Titanic to change direction – with the same dangers inherent in the process.

My first Dell was a Latitude CPt V series which, over time, was “Max’d out” and given to the son of a co-worker. The young man had Cerebral Palsy and the CPt’s capabilities (functionality over speed) fit his needs to a “T”. My current Dell – acquired as a “Max’d out” D810, just seems to sail along with the years. When Software “Sludge” becomes apparent, a quick re-build from Backups cures the problem.

A important point: Often a problem with a product, be it a Dell, or it’s competition, can be attributed more to a lack of experience on the part of the user/owner of that product, and not the product, itself. Yes! Hardware does fail, but the occurrence of user/owner inexperience induced, mis-interpretation of symptoms leading to frustration and “Brand Bashing”, is still more commonplace.

SEH

Ryan
December 22, 2009 12:16 PM

I own a Dell Optiplex GX620. It is an excellent computer. When I got the computer I didn't have installation media for XP and when I needed to reinstall I was lost. Fortunately, I used an UPGRADE disc to replace the full version I actually own. Dell's website had no information pertaining to this on older models. I have the product key so I am looking to Microsoft for help. If they get me an installation disc, it won't have Dell's software on it so it would just be more work. My computer is no longer under warranty either. The hardware is amazing (I could do Windows 7) but the service is still lame.

PJ Salvatore
December 22, 2009 1:30 PM

A couple years ago I purchased our 7th Dell. All 7 are still in service and I can even say going strong. My son's laptop for college was our first in 1999. Like any technology of that age it has outlived its usefulness... OUTLIVED being the operative word!! It is still running and still in use, though we've since gifted our son a new one. My desktop is going on 8 years old, has been expanded to capacity, (fortunately external hard drives make expansion of storage limitless) this one has taken 7 years of nearly constant use. I won't bore you with more details, but all of our computers, except one Vista-encumbered desktop that we call our evil step-child, have been a delight to own (the computer actually behaves quite nicely, Vista seems to be a bit ADHD). As for service, we couldn’t have asked for better! In the middle of a major project, tech support even saved my bacon by walking me through the recovery of files in safe mode, for THREE HOURS!. (the wireless mouse, not the computer, proved to be the issue in that case) We’ve gotten a wonky laptop replaced when the warranty clearly stated that they would only repair. And a monitor that was months out of warranty was replaced as well with no argument. I have of course heard all the horror stories but you couldn’t prove them by me.

Judith K. Levine
December 22, 2009 4:45 PM

Don't know if you answer questions here, or not, but I have a Dell Studio 1555, brand new. It has Windows 7 and replaced the same model, which had Vista Home Premium. Both this new one and its predecessor present the same problems. I get constant, unwanted highlighting of the whole page and even when my pointer is nowhere near the scroll bars or arrow keys, it scrolls and makes the screen go up and down at its own will. Am I doing something to make these things occur, or is it something in the computer that needs adjusting?

There are several articles on the site that deal with erratic mouse movement, you might search for them. This article is also one additional cause: Why does my computer go nuts sometimes?
Leo
23-Dec-2009

Eric Address
December 22, 2009 5:54 PM

I'm a Dell Partner, which means that I am a reseller of Dell computers, in fact, anything on the Dell site, generally at a discount. I ONLY sell a Dell computer with a 3 year next business day warranty (ProSupport, formerly Gold Support) and a laptop is sold with CompleteCare as well. All of my customers have had great experiences with Dell support. My best example is a Penn State student who called screaming that someone spilled iced tea in her Dell Laptop. A call to Gold Support determined that sending a service tech was not the answer, so Dell arranged for a shipper (with a packing box) to pick up the computer 2 hours later. It was returned, fully functional, all data intact two days later.
By the way, the D series of Latitudes is no longer available - the replacement for a D630 would be an E6400, a great computer, just like the D630.

Norman Rondeau
December 26, 2009 6:14 PM

I am in the category of Dell Horror stories. Computers bad out of the box and such.
That said...You mileage may vary with ANY brand. I have had great luck with HP computers outlastin all other brands I have had and being trouble free. That is my Luck!!! The trick is to research your needs and the computers available in your price range. Make sure you buy one at least one level above what you think you need...trust me, it will end up being a great idea if you do anything other than email. Narrow your choices down. This could take 3 minutes or 3 days depending on what you want. When you are down to 2 or three choices, review warranties and items that come with them. Do you want a monitor with it or just the computer itself. Printer? Upgrade from, say, Windows7 Home to Win7 Pro? To keep this short, you should arrive at the best choice or maybe a tie using this process. Everything being equal, you may have to go with your gut feeling or a friend's advice. This may seem complicated and it is oversimplified, but if your follow the idea here, you should get a really good computer. Maybe even your dream Dell!! I am not affiliated with the computer industry but am a long time user of many brands of computers. Hope this is useful to someone.

Tim Turner
March 8, 2011 9:06 AM

You mean they make computers other than Dell? I've never had a reason to search.

Phil
March 8, 2011 10:04 AM

I have a Latitude 610 that is about 8 year old - my company let me keep it when it upgraded - I upgraded the memory and loaded windows 7 - ok it doesn't run aero but is still good - in fact it runs better than when I had XP and all the corporate software on it. My wife also runs a dell inspiron - excellent for her use also upgraded to W7 I recently bought a spec build laptop from pcspecialist in the UK for my daughter at Uni.- boy do we wish we bought a Dell - in 1 year it has needed replacement wireless card (warranty) Memory (Corsair warranty) and two weeks after warranty expired a new motherboard then a new battery. Yes we all have horror stories but I think a Dell Hell (not that I have had such an experience - cross fingers!) may be less of a trauma!

Neal
March 8, 2011 10:20 AM

IBMs and Gateways in the 80's and 90's - all just became victims of progress - no failures. Now we have three Dells and two HPs.
The only problem has been a dell Inspiron 5100 with its infamous,(and litigated) overheating problem. Still using it however, along with a can of air to blow the dust out of the fins in the back.
Overall I favor the HP,s but would buy either brand confidently.

Glenn P.
March 8, 2011 10:34 AM

Leo Netenboom wrote:

"But I do have a few suggestions to make your Dell experience more like mine, and less like the ones getting all the negative publicity."

Sure, and so do I have one: simply legally change your name to "Leo Notenboom". Once you've done that  you'll see all those previously obstreperous customer support techies start turning cartwheels and jumping through hoops to satisfy you!

Sheesh. Did I really need to say  that?

I'm not that important. They have no clue who "Leo Notenboom" is, and I get treated no differently than any other small biz customer.
Leo
08-Mar-2011

Jim Glass Sr
March 8, 2011 2:22 PM

As a retired Microsoft Software Test Engineer who tested hardware for ALL versions of NT through Vista I still have the best of all worlds. I have 3 sons who work/worked at MS and give me their cast off laptops :-). Excellent advice by Leo and commenters. Our family has pretty much switched from desktops to laptops of all makes with no problems.

Paul
March 8, 2011 6:27 PM

Just read your article on Dell. I too, have always had a Dell - usually Inspiron. I figure I'm on my 9th or 10th Dell now and have been totally satisfied with their PCs and service. On one of my earlier Dell's the mother board fried (probably only a couple of weeks old) and they showed up the very next day, at the proper time to replace it. Another time I was having problem with software on a new PC and they very quickly shipped out replacement CDs. They've even helped me out with minor issues on out-of-warranty PCs. For home use, I wouldn't think of any other PC than a Dell.

Joyce
March 8, 2011 7:07 PM

Like you, I have had nothing but Dells over the past , oh, 15 years. Once I decided to try another brand for a change. Well , that one went to my grandson!! Heck I can't even remember what the brand was. Right up there with Dell. Almost. lolol

Right now there are three Dells in this room, two desktops and one lap top. Then there were several more that went to grand kids or whoever needed a computer,when I would decide to buy a bigger, better one.

This is a bit confusing but what I'm trying to say is that I will probably continue to buy Dells as long as I can still conpute. :o)
Thank you for your most helpful site.

John
March 9, 2011 6:53 AM

Have only purchased new Dell's for the last 6 or 7 machines with zero problems & spec'g my next two now.
(Any comments on the Inspiron All-In-One?, not sure about ease of service if ever needed, and they have not been around long in terms of checking reliability)
Purchased one used machine on eBay & had a great experience with Dell Support that included an onsite visit.
Personally I believe the folks with the horror storys verbally abused the Techs and they being human returned the favor in kind.
Thanks Leo & keep the newsletter coming-great stuff & take care.

Kaye M
March 12, 2011 10:02 PM

My Dell 4600 Intel Pentium 4 PC is going on 8 years old. It has been through 2 moves--one in a U-haul truck--and the only thing I have had to do for it is to install more memory cards. The first time I set up a new Internet service after a move, I needed remote tech assistance. But I set up my own DSL service last time. I am 72 and did not get my first rebuilt PC (with a Win 3x OS) until I was 60. But my first new one was my Dell with XP. I ordered it online and it was shipped to me by UPS. Love it! I will buy Dell again when this one finally wears out.

G Horsman
January 3, 2012 8:39 AM

I have owned five Dell different desktops and four different laptops and have recommended them to relatives and friends. I have never had any problems with any of them that were not operator errors or a plain and simple hard drive gone bad. I have also had Toshiba's and Sony's. While they have also been good, I continue to prefer Dell and have never understood the critical comments I have seen. I have also always had prompt response on orders and support.

Mark Vanner
January 3, 2012 8:53 AM

So glad to read your Dell recommendation. I've been in the IT field for 30 years and have recommended Dell many times to family, friends, and clients. For the most part, those that have chosen Dell products have been very satisfied customers.

Boyce Rensberger
January 3, 2012 8:54 AM

M.I.T., which knows a thing or two about computers, relies heavily on Dells. I worked there for ten years, and Dells are what they recommended for everyone but the Macophiles.

Julian Adams
January 3, 2012 9:11 AM

I have owned Dells and have never had a complaint. My next computer will likely be a Dell. However, the SD card reader died on my Studio XPS8000 recently. To make a VERY long story short, my attempt to get a new reader went from the ridiculous to nightmarish. After they had sent me 2 card readers (same ones), numerous e-mails and phone calls, they informed me that the reader for my 2-year-old Dell was "at the end of its service life" and was no longer available. The people at Dell (obviously in India) were stupid, inept, incompetent, most of the time couldn't speak understandable English, or were just taunting me--I don't know which (maybe all of the above). Dell makes good computers, but my experience at trying to get a spare part has certainly left a bad taste in my mouth for Dell.

This is actually one reason I recommend going through the small business portal - I believe you get better service - at least you used to.
Leo
05-Jan-2012
Dave Markley
January 3, 2012 9:13 AM

I just wanted to add that I, too, prefer Dell PC's. One little tip I have is: when I ordered my last laptop from Dell, I really wanted a 'XPS', but even the lowest-priced XPS was out of my price range. I found that I could get a 'maxed-out' Inspiron, with basically the same features (if not more), than the XPS I originally wanted for about $400 less than the XPS. At some point, some of what you're spending on that 'better' model, comes down to paying for the name. Of course I couldn't get the back-lit keyboard or the fancy 'cover' (lighted lettering, etc.), but the abilities are the same (usb 3.0, WiDi, etc.).
Also, I found it's much cheaper to buy a PC with the 'lowest' amount of ram memory, and then max it out with the best aftermarket ram. I saved another couple of hundred there.
I've been in the PC repair business for about 5 years now and can honestly say that the brands I see needing the least amount of repairs are Dell and Acer by a long shot (aside from maintenance and virus issues, of course)!

Bill
January 3, 2012 10:10 AM

Dell may not be the only "good" computer builder out there, but the fact that they are in that group says a lot.

Glenn Meyer
January 3, 2012 10:36 AM

I use olg Dell computers all the time, and find them to be very reliable. I run the old Dell computers with Linux. IF you're thinking about whether to buy a new machine and face the move to Windows 7 (or 8) think about switching to Linux. Ubuntu and Linux Mint, among others, are easy to install, and run open source versions of the programs you use every day, with the possible exception of tax programs. However, even those can be run on Linux. Why do this? The OS is free and you don't need to buy a new Dell or other computer. You do need time to learn Linux, but if you've spent hours or days trying to rescue your computer after a virus infection, consider that in 20 years of using Linux, I've never encountered a virus problem.

John H
January 3, 2012 11:53 AM

I prefer to buy 4 or 5 year old off lease IBM/Lenovoe Think Pads. I don't do anything high powered and can afford to have a Tablet computer in my Kitchen and workshop along with my desktop which is now another off lease Think Pad. Parts and docking stations are dirt cheap on Ebay.

I take the money I save and invest in the latest and greatest huge screen monitors.

Robert Moore
January 3, 2012 12:17 PM

I have purchased Dell PCs for myself as well as some clients in my consulting experience. Not only do I recommend Dell, but Dell Outlet as they back up their Outlet offerings with the same warranties as new.

My main personal experience with Dell was a Dimension 2350. When I bought it, I opted for 3 years of coverage. Over that time, I had some failures but Dell stood behind them with either a service professional or parts (replacement or exchange) at my door.

Then, a month before the warranty expired, my system crashed. Dell again sent on-site service and replaced my motherboard. Two months later, the PC crashed again. I called Dell, even though I was a month outside of warranty, since the crash was identical. They sent me a new (probably refurbished, but it looked brand new) PC and asked me to swap hard drives and then return my old one. My PC lasted four more years.

Further, the PC they sent me included a CD/DVD burner to match the one I'd installed on my own.

It was Dell's service & support that made me a believer.

John
January 3, 2012 12:57 PM

Have owned Dell machines for years & have not experienced either hardware or software related failures when purchased new from the factory.
(averge lifespan of 5 to 7 years)
Have also bought a number of used Dell's on eBay to tinker with & only ran into two problems in the past 8 years.
One was covered under warranty by Dell (even though I bought the machine used!) and one motherboard had blown capacitors which I didn't bother to fix even though kits are available for $29.00.
Sold that one for parts & broke even on that deal too...I recommend Dell to anyone who asks & think they provide a good product.
Planning to upgrade to a new XPS Studio desktop with Windows 7 Pro within the next month.

Robert Rochelle
January 3, 2012 2:03 PM

I have agree with you. I've bought 4 Dells (2 laptops, 2 desktops) since 1999. I've had pretty fair customer service experiences and less than pleasing CS experiences, but the machines have been very satisfactory. The only significant complaint I could lodge would be about the Dell branded (Lexmark manufactured) printer I bought with my Win 7 machine--3 pages per ink cartridge is a little pricey when the cartridges are $25-$30 each--but the computers have been excellent values. The 1999 unit came with Windows Me installed, but I can't blame Dell for that.........

Will
January 3, 2012 2:16 PM

I would rate Dell service & support above HP, but I feel HP manuals are better. In some models Dell makes some custom Dell-only PC parts. If you want to add a second drive to an empty slot, the current XPS 8300 has side control tabs to operate the drives. If you want to use the side tabs for the added drive, Dell must give you a custom quote to custom modify their drive with a side button and send it. They are willing to do so, my guess is, for as long as the modification parts are available. Otherwise, the side tab is non-functioning and you would manually hold the springloaded door open, to accces the newly installed drive button inside the bay. If the existing optical or dvd drive goes out in the future, I do not know if a side button drive would be available later. I have read that some of their cooling fans & mobos have special connection wires requiring very expensive Dell-only replacement fans, or use of non-Dell custom wiring mods. Apparently some of their power supplies have also been special.

SEH
January 3, 2012 6:30 PM

Totally with you on this, Leo. When I max'ed out my origional Latitude ("V" series) in 2006, I purchased my current Latitude D810 second hand on ebay. Mfg'd in 2005, it has given me steadfast, daily performance since that purchase. NO hardware issues whatsoever. A sturdy machine if ever there was one.

Dan
January 4, 2012 11:48 AM

I have the same Dell now for some years. It has lived in 3 different houses. Many years after the warranty ran out, I got a bad virus. Could not restore from the hidden factory sector on the harddrive - could not find my installation disk (lost in the move). Called Dell - they sent me the factory disk free of charge. All is well with the world!

Mary Jo
January 5, 2012 12:11 PM

I have purchased Dell workstations for our company exclusively over the years as well as Dell laptops for personal use and have not had even 1 workstation fail that couldn't be revived. My customer service experience, both personally and at work have been great. When products were still under warranty I had no issues. I recommend Dell products when asked simply because they are reliable. Any I agree to your comments. Don't buy the cheapos, go for a good mid-range system that can keep you computing for years. It pays in the long run in less downtime, frustration and equipment upgrades. Thanks Leo!

Tom Dees
January 8, 2012 10:55 AM

Leo, I completely agree with you in regard to Dell. I still have and use two laptops which both were purchased from Dell Auction.com. I would suggest to anyone looking for a great back-up laptop to go to this site. I just saw a nice D630 with a core 2 duo Intel with vista business sell for $155 bucks! These are off lease machines and some even have warrantee left. My C610 I purchased in 2001 had a known touch-pad issue and after a couple of weeks of use it went south. I had three months left on in home/business warrantee. The technician came within five days of my call and made the repairs with virtually no questions asked. He also noticed the screen flicker when opening and replaced the entire LCD screen and plastic! It came with windows 2000 which I have reformatted many times due to hard drive failure/replacement. I only use it now for downloading. I have nothing on it but internet access so if something goes wrong I simply reload windows 2000. No harm done! I also conceder Dell website support second to none. All one need due is type in your Dell service tag and get any and all information on your specific machine.
I can’t speak for their new products as I have only ever purchased used machines from the Dell Auction. However my experience with Dell support weather it was phone or internet has always been first class!

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