Dell rant

Discussion in 'Dell' started by dave_bonnell, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. dave_bonnell

    dave_bonnell Guest

    Short version:
    Ordered a Dell Dimension 3100, and I'm not impressed.

    Long version:

    First, a bit of background. My first real computer (barring a 386) was
    a 266 MHz Dell Dimension purchased back in 1998. Dollar for dollar,
    the system was far and away the best I could get for the money I spent
    (about $3k at the time). In my eyes, how could anyone choose *NOT* to
    buy a Dell? At the time, Dell's service was pretty good in both the
    online and phone support categories.

    Time passed, and I started to notice that Dell support was in
    decline....not that I personally was affected, but complaints of other
    online users started to grab my attention. Regardless, the price point
    was still good relative to other available systems (locally or online).
    Given my previous positive experience with Dell, I recommended a 1.7
    GHz system for my sister. The system was unimpressive, to say the
    least....understand that this was not a top-end system. I liked the
    updated clam-shell/toolless design of the case. It was, however,
    shamefully sluggish. A subsequent video/memory upgrade helped to
    correct the problem, but the system was still pretty poor in terms of
    responsiveness.

    Which leads me to my #1 complaint about Dell. Their basic value
    systems are just that...they offer good value, and they are extremely
    basic. It boggles me that they are still offering systems with 256 MB
    of RAM, given Windows XP's appetite for memory. I recently configured
    a "mid-range" system (base system came with 512 MB), and an upgrade to
    1GB cost an extra $100! In fact, just about every upgrade you try
    (except for the "free" offers) ends up costing you more than it would
    if you were to buy elsewhere.

    Moving on...

    Last week I was commissioned with the purchase of a new computer for my
    grandmother. An all-in-one and a LCD monitor were two 'features'
    considered essential....and once again Dell's agressive pricing beat
    out competitors by a good margin. Given that this wasn't Dell's
    bottom-of-the-barrel selection I took a chance and went for it. It
    didn't hurt that the computer wasn't for me :)

    Unfortunately, I have two major gripes:
    1) There is no option for dedicated graphics on this system! I knew
    this prior to purchase, but moving to a system with the *option* of
    dedicated graphics was an extra $250. The board has only two PCI
    slots. How much extra would it cost Dell to add a PCI-E slot? My
    guess is "not very much". Integrated graphics will be ok for the
    intended user, but there is no upgrade path. It is this kind of
    business tactic that will prevent me from buying a Dell system for
    myself.

    2) The unending software bloat that comes pre-installed. What a scam!!
    It is exactly this type of software that my grandmother should NOT
    have on her system. Free trial for 60 days this, upgrade for $19.99
    that, etc., etc. Even some of the included Corel Wordperfect software
    expires after a limited time. There are no fewer than 7 media viewers
    installed on this system....but WHY? I open up the start
    menu->programs, and the screen is filled with about 30 different
    software packages....most of which are trial-ware. While I understand
    this from a marketing perspective (perhaps it allows Dell to reduce
    system cost), it is a real nuisance from my perspective...my
    (grandmother's) computer is loaded down with unnecessary software, and
    navigating to the software I (she) requires is hampered by all the
    other crap that's in the way. To boot, Dell doesn't include an
    installation CD that would allow a user to install a fresh copy of the
    OS (without the bloatware) on the system.

    Having said all that, I do like the new case...the interior is clean
    and cables are well-routed. The monitor (17" basic Dell LCD) is much
    better than I had expected. Time will tell if I can clean up the mess
    of crapware that's installed....

    Sigh....
     
    dave_bonnell, Mar 10, 2006
    #1
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  2. dave_bonnell

    Notan Guest

    Gripe #1:

    It was completely your choice to pay extra for dedicated graphics, or not.

    As far as an added PCIe slot, a different model would have given you one.

    How is it Dell's fault that you chose these options?

    Gripe #2:

    Again, the decision to purchase from Dell's Home Division was *your* decision.

    A purchase from their Small Business Division (or higher) would have eliminated
    all the unwanted software.

    Notan
     
    Notan, Mar 10, 2006
    #2
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  3. dave_bonnell

    Bob Levine Guest

    1. You picked the system. It's not like they told you you were getting
    something you weren't.

    2. There's a nice little utility called add/remove programs. It's
    located in the control panel. Works a treat.

    Bob
     
    Bob Levine, Mar 10, 2006
    #3
  4. dave_bonnell

    Tom Scales Guest

    I love posts like this.

    "I purchased a machine without doing research. It doesn't have a video card
    slot! My god Dell sucks!"
     
    Tom Scales, Mar 10, 2006
    #4
  5. dave_bonnell

    journey Guest

    Case:
    Does the 3100 case have that plastic flap near the bottom front with
    the two USB ports and headphone jack? If so, I despise that case. To
    use headphones, the last thing I want to do is lay on the floor with a
    flashlight to connect them. Is it a 3100 or a 310?

    Price:
    I would NEVER buy a Dell at their listed prices. Every Inspiron
    laptop I've ever bought either had $650 off or $750 off. Desktop
    systems were at least 30% off.

    Base System:
    Unfortunately Dell probably needs to offer the 256M RAM type systems
    to compete with the similar systems offered at Comp USA, Best Buy,
    etc. One difference is that at Comp USA they can do a proper job of
    bait / switch. With Dell, someone who isn't knowledgeable wouldn't
    know that 256M isn't enough memory.

    Bloatware:
    I helped a friend set up his new PC, so I got to see things from the
    point of view of someone who doesn't know about computers. It is
    ridiculous. Windows popped up and he's like "What should I do, I
    don't understand". This really angers me. There are many people out
    there who don't know what to choose, and this in-your-face advertising
    confuses them.

    As far as your options:
    YOU are knowledgeable about computers obviously, so really what ground
    do you have to stand on when complaining about the sytem not having
    dedicated graphics? You just didn't do your homework and are
    tranferring your frustrations about that onto Dell when really you
    need to take responsibility for your lack of homework. So don't blame
    your mistake on Dell, you need to be accountable for it. It's amazing
    how some people try to transfer frustrations over their own
    inadequasies onto a company!

    Journey
     
    journey, Mar 10, 2006
    #5
  6. dave_bonnell

    dave_bonnell Guest

    1. I agree with both of you. I picked the system, and I got what I
    paid for. Software aside, I knew what I was paying (or not paying)
    for....although it would be nice to see some more detailed specs of
    certain components (monitor, hard drive, etc.) before purchase.

    Notan, with respect to dedicated graphics, it may be my fault for
    choosing, but it is Dell who decides which systems to market. My
    comment/question was regarding how much it *should* cost to have a
    PCI-E slot available for graphics. Given the cost of basic retail
    motherboards today, I can't imagine it would be much, particularly when
    spread across the thousands of PC's they sell. Given the demands of
    today's (and tomorrow's) applications, I think it is shameful that a
    vendor doesn't spend the extra $10 to provide the option of dedicated
    graphics. The 3100 would be a *very* capable machine with this
    functionality. I suppose that's why Dell hasn't added PCI-E....as a
    method to spur sales of the 5100 series. It's probably a smart
    business decision on Dell's part in terms of the bottom line...but that
    doesn't mean I have to like it.

    2. Yes, add/remove programs does work...to an extent. You are still
    left with hundreds of artifacts (whether it be registry entries,
    shortcuts, so-called 'shared' dll's, program settings, etc.). While
    these remnants *shouldn't* affect operation of the computer, it can and
    does happen.

    In addition, some of the installed programs appear on the start menu,
    but cannot be uninstalled via add/remove. The reverse is also
    true...there are some add/remove items that don't appear to have any
    executables/shortcuts associated with them. It is unclear to me which
    items are ok to remove and which might be essential to other software.

    The option to purchase from the 'Home' or 'Business' is nice in
    hind-sight. The software bloat that Dell installs is not exactly
    well-published on their purchasing website, and the business PC website
    doesn't clearly indicate "no shareware installed"...in fact, it lists
    several pieces of software that automatically come with the system.
    Why would I choose a 'Business' PC?....I'm not a business! Dell
    doesn't make much effort to distinguish the two, anyway.

    Regards,
    Dave
     
    dave_bonnell, Mar 10, 2006
    #6
  7. dave_bonnell

    journey Guest

    Are you just pulling numbers out of a hat? How do you know how much
    it would cost, and have you done a detailed comparison of competitors?
    I think not.

    Journey
     
    journey, Mar 10, 2006
    #7
  8. dave_bonnell

    Bob Levine Guest

    Do what most of us do...blow the thing out. Dell will ship the XP CD and
    the driver for $10.00. If you wait til you get it and then send them an
    e-mail, they'll send them for free.

    Bob
     
    Bob Levine, Mar 10, 2006
    #8
  9. dave_bonnell

    Notan Guest

    On PCIe slots:

    How much would it cost for an automobile manufacturer to add one small
    option (e.g., a heated outside mirror) to a purchase? Not much. But,
    if you've ever shopped for a new car, you won't find it. What you will
    find is the heated outside mirror in an options *package*, which means
    you'll have to purchase other things (often that you don't need/want)
    in order to get the mirror.

    It's the same with computer manufacturers.

    On add/remove programs and Home vs. Business purchases:

    As others have pointed out, in this and other threads, the only way
    to truly clean your system is to wipe the hard drive, install a fresh
    OS, and only install the programs that *you* choose.

    Pain in the butt, but, from someone who's often done it, well worth it.

    I don't think *any* manufacturer is completely candid as to what will be
    installed on your system. That's why Usenet newsgroups are so valuable.

    Searching for info, and asking questions, is *your* responsibility!

    Notan
     
    Notan, Mar 10, 2006
    #9
  10. Dave;
    I am curious for your source for the $10 to add dedicated graphics.
    In any event whether it be 25 cents or $10, that is exactly the type of
    thing the big manufacturers are looking for to cut costs in the competitive
    thin margin computer market.
    And yes, that little difference will impact some buyers having price as the
    main criteria.
    That is a major reason why it is important for those with experience to do
    their homework.
    Those with little or no experience are more likely never to make hardware
    changes to their computers.

    Hardware specs such as monitor and hard drive are almost impossible to list
    since they can change daily as Dell buys equivalent products from different
    manufacturers.
    The sales people do not even know what is being installed today.
    Even if they did, your computer ordered at that time may get other
    components since the precise configuration is so fluid.
     
    Jupiter Jones, Mar 10, 2006
    #10
  11. dave_bonnell

    dave_bonnell Guest

    Whups. I read somewhere that the 'tone' of an email (or post) is
    misread in about 50% of cases. Let's revisit.

    I'm not bitter, and perhaps "rant" is a little strong. I did my
    research, and was fully aware of the hardware (if not the software)
    that I was receiving. I was quite astounded at the *amount* of
    bloatware that was installed...that is the primary reason for my
    original post.
    Yup, I'm just guessing at numbers. Given the prices that retail
    'value' boards sell for along with the volume that Dell deals with, $10
    for a PCI-E slot sounds reasonable. Maybe it's $20, but I doubt it.
    They need a plastic slot, some additional motherboard routing/layout,
    and an updated northbridge in addition to revised drivers. Probably
    looking at a couple dollars for the slot and a few more for the chip
    upgrade. The rest is mostly NRE, but that might partly be shared by
    the already developed 5100. Obviously, the 5100 series buys you more
    than just a PCI-E slot...I'm not saying the extra $200+ is unwarranted
    (you get a lot more for your money), just that it would be nice to see
    PCI-E on the 3100.

    The heated mirror analogy is appropriate, point taken. Speaking as
    someone who wanted remote keyless entry and got air conditioning, alloy
    rims, and cruise thrown in for 'free' :)
    I believe Dell has corrected this. The new case looks nothing like the
    old clamshell dimension cases. And yes, that angled-down USB placement
    was a really poor choice! Still, case design has been one of Dell's
    strong points. Based on what I can tell, this is a BTX-based
    motherboard/case. As with most Dell PC's, it is reasonably quiet. You
    pull a latch on the top rear of the case to remove the side panel.
    Really? I thought the Dell-included CD had the OS + all the bloatware
    as an image, and you simply restored the computer from that disk. As I
    just received the computer last night, I haven't had the chance to
    browse the included CD's. FWIW, I did pay the extra $10 for the Dell
    WinXP restore disk. While there is a lot of bloatware on the PC, there
    are a few Dell apps that I'd like to keep, so I suspect a clone is in
    order. I use Ghost on all my PC's and I can't count the number of
    hours it has saved me...

    Cheers,
    Dave
     
    dave_bonnell, Mar 10, 2006
    #11
  12. dave_bonnell

    journey Guest

    Hi Dave,

    I'm glad that you don't have the poorly designed case. I wonder how /
    why Dell sold it for so long when it would be obvious to anyone that
    it's a poor design.

    I have the E510 and I love the case. It's also very quiet. I wish I
    had waited for a dual processor because I constantly multi-task.

    I never start from scratch. I just remove the bloatware. I tried to
    start from scratch with a 600m once and had to send it back because I
    kept gettin the bluescreen.

    Journey
     
    journey, Mar 10, 2006
    #12
  13. dave_bonnell

    Bob Levine Guest

    Yes...Really. It's a standard WinXP install CD with a few Dell files
    included. You won't need to activate it and most of the drivers should
    be there.

    Bob
     
    Bob Levine, Mar 10, 2006
    #13
  14. dave_bonnell

    Hank Arnold Guest

    Feel better?? ;-)

    You understand the specs as shown, yet you are disappointed in the
    performance?? You rant about Dell's configurations, yet you keep buying
    them?? Don't like the installed configuration? Wipe it and re-install the OS
    (you *did* spend the extra $10 for a CD, didn't you??)!!

    Stop blaming your incompetence on Dell ..............
     
    Hank Arnold, Mar 12, 2006
    #14
  15. dave_bonnell

    dave_bonnell Guest

    Of course I feel better! Except for the $10 CD that I could have
    gotten for free :)
    I'm not disappointed by the system performance (did I say that?).

    Had my first experience with Dell "tech" support yesterday. I have no
    idea where the call center was located, but the accent of the girl I
    spoke with had an East Indian flavour. She wasn't terribly good at her
    job, but did end up pointing me in the right direction eventually. It
    sounded very much like she was reading a script...I guess I shouldn't
    be surprised. She kept putting me on 'hold', although I could hear
    what sounded like a muffled party going on in the background.

    The problem was that the DVD drive "ate" one of the Dell-provided
    driver CD's. I put it in, and the whole computer started to vibrate as
    the drive spun-up. That was followed by a horrible scrunching sound.
    I couldn't stop the drive, but after a few seconds it automatically
    ceased rotation. Ejecting the disk, it appeared to suffer some damage
    around the central ring, but was still readable.

    After a number of scripted 'tests', I repeated the audible
    demonstration to the Dell tech, who finally conceded that something was
    wrong with the drive. She indicated that I needed to call Dell
    customer care to receive a new replacement, because it was within 30
    days of purchase. She informed me that any repairs/replacements made
    after the 30 days are typically refurbished products (just to inform
    let anyone who is unaware of Dell's policy).

    Eventually I got through to Dell customer care, who brought up the case
    number. This time I got a very helpful individual, who indicated that
    a replacement drive (and CD) would be on the way. She was confused as
    to why tech support didn't simply replace the drive.

    Overall, despite the bad drive and 50% poor service, I consider the end
    result favourable.
    Time will tell if the drive shows up in a week or so...
     
    dave_bonnell, Mar 13, 2006
    #15
  16. dave_bonnell

    dave_bonnell Guest

    More updates...

    A new DVD-RW drive shipped to replace the bad one. It was actually a
    Philips/Benq drive, which was a pleasant surprise given the generic
    drive that was included with the system. A manual was provided with
    the drive, but it covers Sony/LG...bizarre. They also included an IDE
    ribbon cable, extra screws, and the special 'quick release' screws used
    by the Dell drive release system. In addition, I found a couple more
    CDs, with some Dell DVD software included.

    The destroyed CDs were also replaced....but they replaced them with the
    wrong ones! I asked for a WordPerfect CD and a Dell monitor CD, and
    received two totally different CDs! I'm still missing a printer cable.
    Looks like another call to Dell. So far, so good...I am impressed
    with the speed of service/delivery. I don't consider these CD's
    'essential', so even if they don't replace them I'm not 100% bothered.
     
    dave_bonnell, Mar 17, 2006
    #16
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