We went ahead and purchased our laptops. I went for the cheaper option of the Apple MacBook Pro, the statistician likes red, and went for the Dell XPS M1710. Orders were placed at exactly the same time. Apple replied to me immediately via email saying they had received my order and I should expect the laptop in 6 days. Dell responded a week later with no delivery date. In fact they responded three times in quick succession, each time with the same order, just the laptops specs rearranged and never a delivery date. Odd. Well the day before we had the first response from Dell, I had already received my MacBook Pro from Apple. The statistician was upset that she hadn't received her M1710 when my Mac appeared, and we sent two queries to Dell over the next week that went unanswered.
The 17" MacBook Pro is stylish beyond what I deserve! The first thing I noticed after opening the sweet box of joy was how thin the notebook is. The quality of the build, the backlit keys, the richness of the speakers, understated and neat. Compared to the M1710 which appeared quite garish with all of its red glowing lights. The M1710 was much thicker although they both feel about the same weight.
After having set up Parallels and transferring across all of my old system smoothly, I began to feel just how nice the MacBook Pro is to use. I definitely do miss the individual PgUp, PgDn, Home, End keys, and would really like to have a Del key (rather than Fn + Delete). But as users have said: you get used to the combinations.
Note, that I have parallels running on my iMac but had never installed the "Parallels Tools" because (a) I didn't know they existed, and (b) I don't use parallels on my iMac that much. But I use Windows/Parallels on my MacBook a LOT and had a bit of frustration with copy and paste between the two environments ... until I installed the "Parallels Tools" ... Joy! Very easy to find and install, and makes Paralllels so much more useful.
Eventually, 10 days after I received my MacBook, we get a response from Dell, but only after I sent a final email to our contact and Cc: his boss, stating that our statistician was considering a change to Apple if Dell couldn't get their product shipped. The Dell equipment was already on the way and turned up within three days from Dell's reply.
We had ordered a Dell XPS M1710 and a 30" Dell monitor. Oh baby this is one sweet monitor. I thought 24" was huge but the 30" monitor makes 24" look way smaller than this difference between them sounds. Our contact at Dell assured us that the XPS M1710 would work with the 30" monitor at full resolution. In fact, the specs of the graphics card say this is indeed the case. However the laptop does NOT support the full resolution or, in fact, any resolution above 1280x800 on the 30" LCD monitor. Not good when we were promised the full resolution of 2560x1600. Dell support knew about this problem, but apparently the sales staff do not. Our statistician was livid.
To add to this pain, I attached my Apple MacBook Pro to the Dell 30" monitor ... and it just worked. Sweet mother of God how gloriously it worked. 2560x1600 on the 30" and 1680x1050 on the local 17" LCD. Words fail to describe the joy of that big screen on my desk with OS X spread out over the place. I want one.
So let me state this again: the top of the line Dell XPS laptop does not support the top of the line Dell 30" LCD screen. But the Apple MacBook Pro did.
I am producing so much smug right now.