A general computer purchasing tip…

I noticed on Gizmodo that the 30″ Dell LCD is out.

Dell 3007WFP 30

The cost? $2500. Hmm, Apple has had a 30″ LCD display for over a year now. It’s cost: $2500. Same size, resolution, and contrast ratio. So the Dell runs a refresh about 3 ms faster (on paper, Apple is notoriously conservative with their specs); the Apple is prettier, has better power cabling, and doubles as USB and Firewire hub; and can be serviced at your Apple Store.


This is why the average purchaser shouldn’t buy Dell: you’ll invariably be ripped off.

The cognoscenti will know to wait for a deal to appear on SlickDeals or Techbargains before purchasing these bad boys—it’ll end up costing about half of what Apple charges. How do I know this? Well, tons of Mac forums advised Mac users to purchase 23″ Dell LCDs to save money vis-a-vis the Apple 23″ Cinema Display. Using various deals recommended on the forums they saved more than half their money, and lived with a little ugly. BTW, both these models use the same panel even though the tech specs on paper of these two models are very different.

Dell also sells direct-only (to keep costs low), has some inconsistent but serious QA issues (some models are really good, others are really bad, and that varies from model to model, line to line), and in-general has crappy support. (Dell used to have a supply chain advantage, but that is crap out the window now that Apple no longer manufactures it’s own stuff.)

So if you can’t get a great institutional discount or navigate the maze of “stackable coupons” and the like, where does that leave you? Ripped off.

The vast majority of people who get their computer purchasing advice from friends who recommend Dell are indirectly subsidizing their friends’ Dell purchase. Their tech-savvy friend knows the good values, the good deals, and doesn’t need sales or technical support. You, on the other hand, end up stuck with “Apple-priced” notebook computer in which the blue channel line gets pinched at the hinge and dies and are currently on hold with some incompetent tech support person in India who could give a rat’s ass about your problem because it isn’t on his decision tree script.

This is why comparisons of Dells and Macintoshes are naïve to the extreme. Mac users are fond of specing a Dell to look like a Mac and then showing how the Macs are price competitive. What a load of crap! First, nobody is going to pay what Dell lists for that price, they’ll find a discount. Second, nobody is going to spec their Dell with worthless shit like Bluetooth (when they’ll rationalize that they can purchase a USB stick), Firewire 400/800 (when they have the “good enough” USB 2.0), gigabit ethernet (whatever!), or a nice case (when they’d be buying Alienware or similar “what an engineer thinks is good design” crapola). And last I checked, the machining used in the case, the number of decibels a computer makes under normal conditions or amount of watts it draws when asleep aren’t exactly on any spec sheet (then again, neither is the number of buttons on the mouse/trackpad), Third, these guys are going to pirate all the software that they plan on loading on this Windows box so that cost doesn’t factor into a Dell purchase.

Apple is going to charge a little premium for them no matter what. They will use that premium to fund the development of their operating system and tightly integrated apps like iLife and the like to create a unique consumer experience to justify that premium.

Macs are great computers that are well-designed relative to their peers and come in very pretty packaging. Because of this and the software, there is a premium to them. The day there is no premium is the day they are as shitty, ugly, and shoddily-designed as a Dell.

4 thoughts on “A general computer purchasing tip…

  1. Dell are great computers that are well-designed relative to their peers and come in very pretty packaging.

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