Friday, December 15, 2006

Dell vs Apple

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.


Anonymous said...

Neoporcupine, my regrets to you for the confusion of delivery dates on the front end and with the resolution rates on the monitor. We will look into what happened with both. I've just come across your post and don't have enough information to offer more than that for the problems you've had. We will share this with the right teams in Dell and rectify what issues we find.
We appreciate your comments, even though we'd differ with you on the coolness of the 1710 :)

Simon said...

Thanks MikeM. Actually, the Dell XPS M1710 would be exceedingly neat at a LAN day; it screams look at me I'm an uber geek with power :) I would say the system is "hot" rather than "cool". However saying a system is "hot" has heating connotations. Maybe if it came in blue you could say cool :P

And our Dell contact did mention the season rush which was placing large demands on their schedules and *I* don't have a problem with that. Also the Dell tech support guy we got in touch with knew the problem before the first sentence was complete, full marks there, Dell support has been very good for us at the University.

I don't have a problem with the M1710, I think it is an excellent system. I just wanted to send out some smug vibes from our experience. The 30" monitor problem feels like a software bug rather than hardware, esp given the specs of the graphics components. Maybe this problem will go away with an update at some stage.

Anonymous said...

Cool, glad to hear the support comment. We'll take all vibes -- smug, complimentary or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Neo, I have one Dell XPS M1710 too, it's really cool. But I don't have 30" LCD to taste and just have one 24" LCD which just support 1920x1200, and all the things works great. I have one question for you, which working method that you use on M1710&30"LCD? Clone mode or Single 30"? If you using Clone mode, that should be limited by your M1710 because you order one low resolution panel on M1710. Do you have try to press Fn+F8 twice and use 30" LCD as the single display?

Simon said...

We tried every combination of graphics modes we could think of, desperate just to see full resolution on the 30" monitor, but we really wanted the dual monitor mode in seperate spaces. The two IT guys we have who looked at the problem have about 25 years of support between them, so the were getting into alternate drivers, editing config files, complete reinstalls and so forth. Dell confirmed that there is a compatibility problem when we contacted them - the laptop just does not correctly detect the available resolutions on the 30" monitor. These were XPS specialists so I was inclined to agree with them. The 24" monitor does work well, but when you have a 30" monitor sitting next to the 24" ... you want the 30" working, not some tiny little 24" :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was wondering if I'd be able to get away with using a Dell 30" display with my 17" MBP. Thanks for confirming this for me!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a religion with computers but all I see here are excuses from Dell like most PC dealers infact that has been my only experience. It's always about a patch here some bug there - viruses, trojans, spyware - about having to update this driver which didn't come with the flippen box then to hold a leg up in the air while facing north, blah ,blah, blah !!

I'm extremily technical and get furiously pissed off when you fork out top dollar for a computer (non-apple) that doesn't do what was been promised.

I use own and train on both - yes Apples aren't perfect but when compared to the alternatives - the rest end up looking like lemons.

Instead of defending poor delivery and inferior quality and/or always making excuses - only sell what has been tested and actually works!! (it's not rocket science !)

Gotta go and kill some more viruses on my PCs - only a free feature of windows of course - WOW !

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You Mac Guys that have paid your $600 in advance for Mac service should get top service.
Dell do not charge for theres also there garantee is 3 years against the Mac 1 year.