I still buy most computers from Dell – it’s not perfect, but in my experience it’s still a step ahead of the other manufacturers in quality and support.
- It’s easy to get Vista Business from Dell, the version of Windows required for small businesses and a good choice for many home users; it’s virtually impossible to get Vista Business on computers from other manufacturers, especially the ones in the local stores.
- If you order from Dell’s Small Business division and carefully uncheck as many choices as possible, a new computer arrives with a bare minimum of preinstalled crap. (I just lost a Sony Vaio notebook and had to reformat the hard drive. It didn’t have a virus or spyware but it was made completely unusable by the preinstalled craplets. My experience matched the report a couple of months ago from Ed Bott.)
Dell’s home division changes its models frequently; I couldn’t tell you what the differences are between Inspiron, Studio, XPS and “Gaming” laptops, for example, without studying the specs.
Dell has also turned its support options into an exotic array of plans. It’s far more than just a choice between a standard 1-year warranty or an extended 3-year warranty! On the business side, there’s not only a choice of the term of the hardware coverage but there’s an extra layer of “Pro Support” if you want a guaranteed connection to tech support in North America. There’s coverage for accidental damage and services for laptop tracking/recovery/data deletion. You can prepay for a data recovery service in the event of hard drive failure. It’s a bit dizzying.
There’s another choice now offered when you buy a computer from Dell’s home division. For $99/year, you can sign up for “Your Tech Team,” a “premium” support option. Here’s the press release for the new premium support option. As far as I know, this is what you get:
- Hardware warranty support from call centers in North America. Really, this is what it’s all about. If you’ve ever had to call Dell’s support center in India, you might think this is a small price to pay.
- The coverage is provided for all Dell devices “in your household.” I assume that means it only covers Dell equipment purchased through the home division. Your “household” is determined by the billing address on the purchase so it covers notebooks that travel off to college.
- The coverage only extends to devices that are still covered by the regular hardware warranty. You’d pay twice for an extended warranty – once for the extra years of coverage, then $99/year to talk to a native English speaker if there’s a problem.
Don’t you wish things like this weren’t necessary?