Posts tagged with dell

So you believe Apple is more expensive than Dell…

Apple are often accused of being more expensive and that Dell are much cheaper.

The reality is that Dell offers a wider range that includes real low-end products that are often constrained or using older technology. Apple, quite rightly in my opinion, doesn’t compete there.

Okay Apple have some other gaps in their line-up most notably the typical home power-user who doesn’t want a twin processor Mac Pro, needs more configuration options than the Mac Mini and already owns a display so doesn’t want an iMac. A box half the size of the Pro with a single dual/quad core CPU and no supplied peripherals would be perfect.

That aside I was checking out the prices for their new twin 3GHz quad Xeon boxes after some individuals balked at the price. They obviously haven’t seen similar specifications from Dell…

Apple Mac Pro Dell Precision 690
Processor 2xQuad Core Xeon 3GHz 2xQuad Core Xeon 2.66GHz
Memory 4x1GB DDR 667 4x1GB DDR 667
Storage 500GB 7200RPM SATA 500GB 7200RPM SATA
Optical 16x DVD-RW 16x DVD-RW
Input Wired keyboard/mouse Wired keyboard/mouse
OS Mac OS X 10.4 Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Graphics Nvidia Quadro FX4500 512MB Nvidia Quadro FX4500 512MB
Price ex.VAT £3,605.95 £5,890.00
Price inc.VAT £4,436.99 £6,920.75
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 7300GT 256MB Nvidia Quadro FX550 128MB
Price ex.VAT £2,712.34 £4,595.00
Price inc.VAT £3,187.00 £5,399.13

In this scenario the Dell is over 60% more expensive and comes with slower CPU’s.

So much for the “Apple Premium Tax”.


Apple MacBook released – cheaper than comparable Dell

Apple have released their MacBook to compete on the low-end with similar PC laptops. I thought I’d compare it to a very similar Dell offering by using the Apple and Dell web sites…

  Dell Inspiron 640m Apple MacBook
Processor Intel Core Duo Intel Core Duo
Processor speed GHz 1.83 1.83
Operating system Win XP Pro Mac OS X
Warranty 1 year 1 year
RAM size MB 512 512
RAM speed MHz 553 DDR2 667 DDR2
HD size GB 60 60
HD speed RPM 5400 5400
Optical 24xCD-RW
Screen size 14.1″ 13.3″
Screen res 1280×800 1280×800
Modem Yes No
Bluetooth No Yes
Wireless Mb 54 54
Battery Whr 53 55
Ethernet Mb 100 1,000
Height mm 38.6 27.5
Width mm 333 325
Depth mm 243 227
Weight kg 2.5 2.36
Audio-out Stereo jack Optical + stereo jack
Audio-in Mono jack Optical + mono jack
Video-out S-Video Mini DVI
Camera No Yes
Extras Works 7
iLife 06
Apple Remote
MagSafe power
Price – VAT £642.34 £637.45
Price + VAT £754.75 £749.00

That’s right, the Apple comes out at £5 cheaper.

In Dell’s favor is a .7″ bigger screen, modem and a card reader.

In Apple’s favor is Bluetooth, iLife 06, media center features, remote control, web camera, DVI and optical outputs, faster networking, bigger battery, faster RAM and a smaller and lighter package.

No doubt the anti-Apple brigade will find something to whine about but it certainly can’t be that it doesn’t run Windows.


Dell get pushy with insurance/extended warranties

We’ve all experienced the pushy salesman trying to get us to buy insurance/extended warranties when buying goods in stores but now it seems Dell are taking this to the extreme.

Last month we decided to buy my little brother a PC of his own and headed over to Dell and so my story starts.

We found a Dimension 1100 with 512MB RAM, 80GB HD, CDRW/DVD combo drive, Celeron D 2.5GHz with on-board sound & video, XP Home and the usual keyboard/mouse combo for £144 (ex VAT). You can see the ex-VAT prices by choosing Small Business instead of Home.

Pushy web site

Dell show lots of attractive prices but the moment you hit Customize & Buy the tricks start as the price shoots up when they tack a 3 Year on-site service on.

To remove this massive increase some £80 on this system (40% of the purchase price!) you must expand the Cover It with Dell Support Services section and switch to No service upgrade selected – 90 Day Collect and Return service only.

It’s interesting to note that they refer to the standard warranty as “90 Day” when in fact it is a full year warranty. I guess they are hoping to scare people into shelling out for insurance.

Anyway, I had the spec I wanted and because the site doesn’t understand the VAT-free nature of the Channel Islands it was time to call them to try and order the system…

Pushy salesman 1

The moment I got through to sales I made it clear I was ordering from Guernsey and so would need the order VAT-free. I didn’t want to go through the whole process twice once with the wrong department.

My Indian sales representative took the details of the system I wanted to order – it took over 15 minutes to get the right system for the right price.

At least half that time was him trying to get me to not remove the 3 year warranty. Eventually he took my address details and said he couldn’t help me because they didn’t deal with the Channel Islands and that I’d need another department.

Exactly the problem I’d hoped to avoid with my first statement.

I asked which department and number I needed – he didn’t know. He did however get somebody to call me back. That leads to my next salesman…

Pushy salesman 2

My second Indian salesman couldn’t pick up the order from the first salesman so we had to start again.

If I thought the first salesman was pushy then the second one took the biscuit. Some of his phrases included;

  • “What will you do if it goes wrong”
  • “Listen to me” (x3)
  • “If it is shipped back you will have to pay 50% of the costs”
  • “It is just a few pence a day”
  • “You can not fix it yourself”
  • “Isn’t that a good deal for peace of mind”
  • “It even includes accidental damage” (Err, so does my home insurance)

Anyway, eventually I had to be very firm with him and we proceeded with the order. He went through a similar thing with needing ink and a cable for the free printer – neither of which are cheap. In the end I told him to keep the printer as we didn’t want it anyway.

The order details were taken although I had to chase a couple of days later for email confirmation the system arrived and worked just fine.

Aftersales 1

I received an email saying I could rate the buying experience online. Needless to say I made my feelings on pushy salesman trying to offer support contracts known.

Aftersales 2

Today was the final pestering that would inspire a blog rant… a call from Dell asking how my Dimension 1100 is going.

Me: “Absolutely fine, no problems.”

Dell: “Oh, that’s good. You didn’t take the 3 year support, is that really what you wanted?”

Me: “Yes, absolutely.”

Dell: “Ok, bye.”

Well, okay at least he wasn’t pushy but how many times must I tell them no. By my count it’s at least 3 if you exclude the sales and after-sales rating web sites.

Are they worth it?

If you are really lost with PC’s maybe they are – but if you write software for a living and put your first PC together 10 years ago probably not.

My Hitachi TV came with a free 5 year extended warranty. It covered £140 of repairs when it decided it wouldn’t switch on any more – finding somebody to repair it was a whole other issue. My thanks to Sarnia Radio in Victoria Road for rising to the challenge and doing a sterling repair job.

I did once take out an extended warranty of sorts on a 3 piece sofa suit for £100 (less than 10% of the price) which included coating the whole thing with ScotchGard protector which has kept it totally mark-free for the last 10 years :) If you burnt or damaged it then the warranty would kick-in.


Dell 2405FPW monitor review

Having now spent the best part of a month beneath the shadow of Dell’s 24″ wide-screen LCD behemoth, the 2405FPW, I thought a mini-review might be in order.

Twenty four inches might not sound big for a monitor when compared a TV but bear in mind you’ll be sitting only a couple of feet away. It will take up most of your vision without moving your head. In fact RSI of the neck could become an issue here if you are not sitting far enough way to take it all in one go.

The 1920×1200 panel is sharp with no blurring or edge enhancement artifacting over DVI (unlike my Iiyama E511). Getting the color temperature right was a little fiddly and the menus themselves ok if you can get used to a horizontal row of buttons providing vertical movement. The 16ms response time is superb with no ghosting or other problems even in games such as Half-Life 2 DeathMatch.

The beast is equipped with DVI, VGA, component, composite and s-video inputs with the last three available as picture-in-picture on top of the DVI or D-Sub. This means that if you’ve got a video recorder, DVD player or satellite system or games console then the Dell will be happy to display those too.

It features a four port USB 2 hub and 9-in-1 media reader for pulling data off the numerous flash cards around. This turns out to be significantly faster than using a camera and it’s USB cable. Dell thoughtfully include both VGA and DVI cables in the box and the stand allows the monitor to be vertically positioned to your preference. It also has the ability to rotate the display 90′ from landscape to portrait however this feature seems ill thought out and the cables are easily caught up despite the stands attempts at cable management.

Overclockers are doing them for £599 ex-VAT this week and Dell have offers on all the time. Just check out the small business and home sections separately, as there are often offers only for one market. HotUKDeals sometimes have additional discount coupons too (and not just for Dell).

A real winner of a display packing a great quality panel and a whole host of features at a price below the competition even when at full retail price. For comparison (all are 1920×1200, 3 year warranty):

  • Dell 2405FPW 24″ DVI/VGA/s-video/composite/component, 4xUSB2,16ms response, 1000:1 contrast, £580-£799
  • Apple Cinema Display 23″ DVI, 2xUSB2 2xFW400, 16ms response, 400:1 contrast, £894
  • Samsung SM-243T 24″ DVI, 25ms response, 500:1 contrast, £874
  • Viewsonic VP231wb 23″ DVI/VGA, 16ms response, 500:1 contrast, £1034