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Buyer Beware!

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Purely informational for those of you in the market for notebooks: based on the reliability of my Inspiron, I'd advise you to definitely give Dell's competitors a good look.

I recently found that the model I own is the victim of a design defect - I now have to replace my hard drive and processor after 13 months of ownership. The cause of this - which I am sure is common with all notebooks (to a certain degree) - relates to an excessively hot battery and a lack of some heat barrier. Unfortunately, my battery was not covered in that massive recall nor has Dell felt the need to notify owners. This diagnosis was made by an on-site Dell tech, who also stated that this is a growing problem. Currently, recovery of the 4 gigs of pictures and video (porn not included) continues at a price that I really wish Dell covered. So far, no dice.

Other reliability issues: my DVD-R drive failed and needed replacement after two months of ownership. The battery won't hold its charge past 40 minutes, a problem I mistakenly procrastinated in telling Dell, for I thought its replacement would be covered under the 2-year warranty (I was wrong).

Now I'm trying not to complain here, I just want to warn you guys that even the most perceivingly reliable, solid product can be an unreliable, solid stool sample. On that note, how are the Apple notebooks these days?

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Laptops have the tendency to run hot, because it's last year's desktop hardware condensed to an 8th of its size. There isn't nearly as much room to breathe inside the box, and there isn't nearly as much metal dedicated to heat sinking.

Laptops should ABSOLUTELY NOT be left on a cloth surface, such as a carpet or a bed, and (defeating the purpose, indeed) your lap. If at all possible, the bottom surface should somehow be raised off the work area. One of my friends would take a cookie pan, cover an ice pack with it, and put the laptop on top of that, all in the name of prolonging the life of the laptop.

My recommendation to manufacturers: Stop trying to make the fastest laptop and start working towards making a cooler-running, more durable one. There are advancements coming down the pipeline that will make this easier. For example: hybrid hard drives (a combination of magnetic disk for mass storage and flash memory for solid-state frequent-access storage) are being developed in order to prolong the life of the Hard Disk Drive.

My recommendation to consumers: Do your research. If you look hard enough, you will find hardware comparisons that will rate such things as running temperature. You want a laptop that will be cool enough to use wherever you plan to use it.

What do I do, personally? Avoid laptops at all costs.

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My company buys Dell Latitudes..we have had a lot of problems with them over the last 4 years..I've been through 2 myself--video card failure, fan failure, DVD drive failure, power supply problem, etc.. I think Dell quality has slipped a lot in recent years..

My personal 6yr old Dell Inspiron 7500 still works great--running Win 2k and Linux dual boot. But it's a very heavy old brick. Still fast enough for my needs, but...

so I recently made the jump to a Mac..bought a MacBookPro last weekend as an early Xmas present for myself..so far so good..it will be perfect for personal home use and work when I go back to being an independent contractor (next year)...the best quality about the Mac for me is the Unix inside aspect of OS X.

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I have an iBook that's still going pretty strong. I've always used it elevated on a book or something so it can get proper cooling.

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I have a problem with dealing with a company that has no bricks or mortar. I bought an MDG computer (Canadian made) 4 years ago and am very happy with it. (The upgrades that I did last year are a separate issue.)

Dell wouldn't even answer the phone when I went to make my purchase 4 years ago - even after I told some hapless women who finally did answer phone that I had $2,000 to spend and I would be spending it by 4:00 that day - nobody called me back! I mean: how good would their service be if they can't even get back to me to BUY the damned thing in the first place?

So, I bought local. They answer the phone. The computer was loaded, formated and ready the next day. And they were cheaper than Dell.

Virtual banks, virtual stores sound great in theory, but at the end of the day it is faster to take it back or pick it up YOURSELF.

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  Virtual banks, virtual stores sound great in theory, but at the end of the day it is faster to take it back or pick it up YOURSELF.

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Agreed...I bought a couple Dell desktops back in the '90s from their website, but my more recent computer purchases have been in person...bought my MacBook at the local Apple store..I like having a local brick-and-mortar place I can take it should it need service..

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My sister got an Inspiron 8500 4 years ago and hasn't had to replace anything. I currently have a Latitude D820 and haven't had anything wrong with it, granted I've only had it for a few months.

It definetly is a good idea to cough up the extra cash when you purchase it for a warranty. Mine as 3 years accidental damage replacement and 3 years warranty, so if anything goes wrong in 3 years they either have to replace the whole computer or the componets that go bad.

As aaaantonie said, the laptop will get very hot if it's on something that's cloth or your lap. However, mine is sitting on a wood desk right now and I can feel almost no heat when I run my hand on the bottom of it.

The Latitudes are "business" machines, so they're more durable, I believe. Inspirons are "home" machines. I would go with the "business" machine of most any company, I think, unless you want it for gaming, in which case you might as well get a desktop.

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I have a Dell Latitude D800, and it has had a number of problems including:

DVD-R drive began making a noise about fourth months after I got it...a loud mechanical whirring sound whenever you inserted a disc or closed the compartment. They had to replace the entire thing.

Rubber feet on the bottom come off easily...I've had to have them replaced three times now

Motherboard went out last summer; had it replaced

Screen on the right side for a width of about 60 pixels or so makes this weird flickering that comes and goes; it usually happens right when you turn on the computer and then goes away after about a minute or two

My "Y" key fell off

The volume and mute buttons have stopped working a couple times for me; had to have it taken in

And of course, the battery recall and the fact that it goes dead now after about 30 minutes

------------------------------------------------

Luckily, my computer is a lease through the university, so any problems I have are covered under warranty for as long as I'm here. I'm planning on taking it in soon to get the battery replaced, get the Y key put back on, and get the issue with the screen flickering fixed.

One thing I will say is that I have had good experience with Dell Customer Service. When the motherboard died on me, I called them up and they sent a representative to my house the next day and replaced it within a couple hours. So in my area at least, they have good service.

Edited by mustang84

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1 friend has a dell lappy... doesnt' put anything he cares about on it unless it 's backed up.... but he's the kinda guy that doesn't mind reformatting C: every 1-2 years if it's gotten really slow... from just all the junk that's been through his pc

I've never liked Dells, even the deskltops have issues and strange glitches from my experience. Me...I'm getting ready to build a new desktop ^_^

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i'm thinking of maxing my cpu out from the same friend as above's pc... amd athlon +3ghz ... prolly think about a new pc after vista's been out a while and pci-express 2.0 (next year most likely) has been out too. so i'm lookin at ~2 years max on this one..... if i can bare it! :lol:

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The Latitudes are "business" machines, so they're more durable, I believe. Inspirons are "home" machines. I would go with the "business" machine of most any company, I think, unless you want it for gaming, in which case you might as well get a desktop.

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I'm not sure how it is now, but a few years ago (around 2000) the Latitudes were the cheap business machines, and the Inspirons were the high-end business machines (for programmers, for instance). My Inspiron 7500 is much more rugged (the case, etc) than the Latitudes I've used since then..

It just seems Dells in general have gone down in quality over the last 5 years or so..

Edited by moltar

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My wife owned a Dell Inspiron 1100 a year ago. I wouldn't consider it a high end business machine, but it did what it needed to do. We sold it to a friend because A) We needed the money, and B) We received a leftover desktop PC from another friend.

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I have an iBook that's still going pretty strong.  I've always used it elevated on a book or something so it can get proper cooling.

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me too! love my ibook, my boyfriend has a dell inspiron and it does run hot but he hasn't had too many other problems with it. YET!

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i've heard people say, do not expect to get more than 2-3 years out of a laptop.  sad but true i think.

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other than quite a few irriplaceable parts and limited upgradability... prolly some people would think desktops are only good that long too :lol:

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i've heard people say, do not expect to get more than 2-3 years out of a laptop.  sad but true i think.

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My Toshiba's clicked past one year, and still rivals most high end machines I see for sale. It still has room for expansion so I'll add another Gig when I feels like it.

I'm actually aiming to get at least 5 years out of it... I've gotten 8 years out of my family's IBM Aptiva and it still goes pretty strong, all things considered.

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My Toshiba's clicked past one year, and still rivals most high end machines I see for sale. It still has room for expansion so I'll add another Gig when I feels like it.

I'm actually aiming to get at least 5 years out of it... I've gotten 8 years out of my family's IBM Aptiva and it still goes pretty strong, all things considered.

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I got over 6 years out of my Dell Inspiron 7500..got it Jan '00, and used it at 3 different companies when I was a contractor. It still works fine, running Win 2k and Linux. It's just too heavy to carry around and I'm finding more software that doesn't work with Win 2k and the 256k of RAM and small hard drive are limiting..(this computer actually cost me $0, but I've referred to it as the $9500 laptop (there's a story behind that).

I hope my new MacBookPro lasts me as long..

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The best Laptops are without a dobut Panasonic ToughBook's. I have droped mine so many times we throw it across the shop floor we even ran it over with a Ford 500 its an truely great laptop.

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The best Laptops are without a dobut Panasonic ToughBook's. I have droped mine so many times we throw it across the shop floor we even ran it over with a Ford 500 its an truely great laptop.

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i bet that 500's suspension made a loud nasty thunk when it hit it. like it got damaged. LOL

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Thinkpads or Asus are the way to go these days...

My 6 year old Thinkpad 240Z, online 24/7 yet still going strong...

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Asus is a good company...my video card is made by them.

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I've had my Toshiba Satellite Notebook for a little over a year now, and aside from some scratches and the finish wearing thin on the left click button on the mouse...and the excessive viruses from porn...this thing has been running like a champ....Just last week I spilled a whole 32 oz cup of Pepsi on the power switch, and left side of the key board...the thing worked for another hour before shutting off on me, after about 45 minutes of it turning on and off by itself....it came back on and has been working fine since. Although the keys stick now when I push them. It's fast enough for my needs, 1.7 GHz I run two windows accounts on it, my personal one which I am on now, and one for work which has no programs on it other than work related stuff. I'm quite satisfied with it, and if I were to unplug it I could get the battery to go for 3 hours on power saver mode. the screen is a little dim but other than that it does everything it can on full power and lasts for about 3 hours....which is not too shabby.

So yeah Toshiba's are good machines for the money, they aren't too expensive and you get a quality notebook

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I haven't had a problem with my Dell Inspiron laptop as of yet. I had a Compaq latop a few years ago that overheated and had the hard drive melt. Hasn't happened with the Inspiron, I do my best to keep it on surfaces that will let it breathe.

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