So my younger sister-in-law is headed off to college. She wants a laptop. Working in IT, reading up on this stuff, and having my entire work environment be a Dell shop, I suggest a Dell or Lenovo (HP third, but they kept coming back more expensive). Apple is immediately not an option because of software compatibility with software they already own. Plus she doesn't want to have to relearn everything.
I price out a Dell and Lenovo, and it turns out that Dell offers a bit more machine for a bit cheaper (with my work discount) and the Dell laptop can look "prettier". So we order a $1,500 Inspiron. This thing is pretty loaded, 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, 250GB HDD, higher res screen, etc.
It arrives about a week and a half later, despite the estimated ship date being 2 weeks. I'm thrilled with how quickly it arrives. I start to set it up for her, putting Office 2007 on it, setting up Vista, getting her LoJack and Antivirus set up as well as her online backup (all free stuff included with the laptop). She comes over once I have it set up and I give it to her. Later that evening (still at my house) she's watching a movie on it, and BLINK, the whole laptop goes dead. It won't boot, no lights, no battery charge indicator (tried different power adapters as well), etc. Just completely dead.
I give a call to Dell and talk to a very nice service rep who goes through RAM troubleshooting with me (?) and then offers me three options: 1: Money back, 2: New Laptop, 3: Technician to troubleshoot and replace the problem. I already know that if I get my money back, we'd get a more expensive and less computer Lenovo, so I didn't want to go that route immediately. I didn't want to wait while a tech comes out and tries to find the problem, and then find out later that it wasn't the problem while she's at college, so I opt for the new laptop. 3-5 business day delivery, apparently they put you in the front of the line for a replacement. So that's cool. New laptop, what are the chances of anything being wrong with the second one.
Today, new laptop arrives. I go home for lunch like I always do, and I figure I'll start getting it set up again. I may have to call MS as well because Office will need to be reactivated. I turn on the laptop and am greeted with a rainbow of colors where a LCD screen should be displaying the BIOS boot. It starts to load Windows and I can see the logo and loading bar, but the whole screen is just flickering all sorts of colors. Lovely..... I hop on Dell chat (I usually get less of a wait there than on the phone) and troubleshoot with an external monitor to see if it's the graphics processor or the screen. The external works fine, so it's probably the LCD. Now I have a tech coming tomorrow to replace the LCD screen.
Once the screen is replaced, you better believe I will be putting this laptop through some tests to make sure nothing else is wrong. If anything else goes wrong I'm getting money back and going with Lenovo. It's probably just bad luck, coincidence, a fluke, whatever, but two bad laptops in a row? Have I been reading the reliability reports wrong? I could have sworn the most recent things I've seen had Apple, Lenovo, and Dell at the top of the list. I have hundreds of desktops and dozens of laptops at work (granted they are Latitudes) and have had very minimal problems with any of them.
We did get the 3 year warranty with accident protection. I can just see her going to class one day and the laptop slipping down 3 flights of stairs. I figured it was worth the extra cost and I never like extended warranties. Considering the service though (next day on site support), I think it will be worth it while away at college.
Anyway, I just wanted to share for anyone out there looking at laptops. It may just have been bad luck, and I hope it was, but thoroughly test out the laptop before it's too late to get it replaced/refunded.
tl:dr - two broken laptops in a row, what are the odds?
If the tech comes around and fixes the screen make sure to run a harddrive and memory check, and go into the bios to make sure all the components are around the right temps
The boxes were in pristine condition. Just seems like manufacturing problems.
And yes, I'm running full diagnostics and stress tests once the screen is fixed, and making sure the cam still works (as it's above the screen and could be disconnected while he replaces the LCD).
Doesn't really bring in confidence, since I'm looking at Dell (Business range, but still...) for the new school term
I'm still pretty surprised though, because the profit margin on laptops isn't very big, and to have to replace an entire laptop, and then a LCD screen, for a single purchaser has got to be losing the company money. I would imagine QA is having a field day figuring this one out.
I can't imagine any laptop screen being easy to replace. I've taken apart my fair share of laptops, and if there's one thing I try to avoid, it's taking apart the LCD bezel. Just getting the wire connection off at the bottom half is difficult enough.
I will say (to instill some confidence for you) that my Latitude D620 (630 is current model) has been going strong for over a year now with no problems and no battery life loss. I've been very happy with it. My only complaint (and fixed with the D630) was no firewire port.
What were the other specs on the Inspiron, because 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, and 250GB is doable on XPS for under $1200 right now.
I hadn't even given XPS a thought since I thought they were higher end and would just be more expensive on principle (like the Latitude, which I did price out and it ended up being about $200 more despite being practically the same. (though the Latitude only had a 14.1" screen, instead of 15.4)