I haven't used it in a few years, but when I did use the Dell Technical Support, it took about a minimum of an hour of waiting on hold listening to elevator music before you could get on with someone. And they try to do all they can, no matter how lengthy or remote to prevent a technician from being sent out (that's fair, i know, but annoying). Right now I just use a Compaq laptop that I got for school. I had a small problem, called up technical support. Some computer asked you a few questions and after about five minutes I was able to get throught to an actual person and had the problem efficiently resolved. So I would recommend HP or the cheaper Compaq
We've got two Dell laptops in the house, both purchased used. A Lattitude and an Inspiron. Great workhorses. I've been able to find parts pretty easy for them too, though I am sure living in Austin (Dell is headquartered here) helps.
There are a number of good used retailers. They buy the lease ends and refurbish them. I paid around $700 for mine two years ago, and it was nearly identical to one I bought new (on a corporate acount) a year earlier for $2500.
However, laptops are still best with the major brands (I hear very good things about Toshiba from technicians who work on all of them). Desktops are getting tricky as even the best of the manufacturers are now building them to be disposable. Over the next few years they hope to save money by reducing service and tech support.
I've never considered $500, $1000 or more to be disposable to me and it can be rather disheartening to watch a 15 mo old computer reach the point where it doesn't pay to fix it (so against my nature to refurbish as well). Stay away from emachine, it's junk and full of proprietary parts that are not compatible with the masses so if you want to repair something, you have to pay a premium and buy it from them. Gateway bought them and are in bankruptcy so I think I'd stay away from Gateway as well because if they go under, service may well get tougher.
My mom bought a dell desktop a couple of years ago and she's very unsophisticated technologically. She has had decent luck with their service department.
Inspiron 8600, multimedia, widescreen. I love love love it!
Yeah hold times are a bitch with tech support though. The first unit we got had a faulty connection with the power supply. It was internal and the whole unit had to be sent back for replacement. THAT was a major PITA. But it's been great since. Had it over a year now.
There is a hierarchy to computer companies. It would be useless to compaire Dell to Emachines, Dell to IBM's etc. Because of this. It goes:
Yes, IBM and Toshibas are better than the others, but they have to be, they are also waaay more expensive. Soo....If your price range is to stay under $2K, then Dell has Sony beat (I had a Sony computer and I really did like it, but I have had 2 Dell laptops). And the beat HP and Compaq, but HPs and Compaqs are so cheap that they might be worth it to buy it, ya know? Although having both a Compaq and HP computer I would advise against it ;)
And EMachine? Well thats the Wal-Mart brand of computers. Super awesomely cheap but there is a saying, "you get what you pay for".
I've had a Dell for a year now. I love it no problems with the machine at least.
E XCEPT do not ever ever call their "customer service". For one thing, they barely speak English, they're rude, it's difficult getting them to understand what the problem is and they make you go through all sorts of machinations without addressing why you called in the first place. If you call, count on a minimum of an hour; I once spent 4 hours trying to get a problem with my CD-RW fixed (2 1/2 hours of that was spent correcting a major problem the customer service gal had created; she had me delete multiple dll files!!)
At my office we bought only Dell equipment for quite a while. We are very happy with them. The corporate-level support is very good. (I don't know about consumer-level service, though.)
If you're getting a laptop, IBM ThinkPads are the best IMO.
Ugh, I feel bad for you who had to suffer through their "lets move consumer service support to India" phase. I thought I heard they stopped doing that, but who knows. Fortunately corporate-level service is fantastic. I rarely wait on hold more than a couple minutes, and they are willing to replace parts without any hassle (we just tell them what we did to troubleshoot the problem).
I try not to judge a company on their support (for the most part) for several reasons. If their products are good and you know what you are doing, there is less of a need to call support. Waiting an hour on the phone (thanks to a headset) is not so bad compaired to to buying a really crappy computer with good support. Thats my opinion. I do not like jobs shipped out to India though, I have such a hard time with accents.
Ugh, I feel bad for you who had to suffer through their "lets move consumer service support to India" phase. I thought I heard they stopped doing that, but who knows. Fortunately corporate-level service is fantastic.
No, that just applied to corporate customer service. Their large accounts raised such a stink they had no choice. But the Great Unwashed are screwed.
I love my Dell but I won't buy another one. Not because of the machine but because dealing with the company has left such a sour taste in my mouth. They're obnoxious, rude (I've been hung up on 3 times!) and they don't have a clue. I've got a warranty on my Dell but it's worthless because they won't send a tech to fix the CD-RW, so I have no choice to go buy one myself. I think that they do shit like this on purpose.
I've sworn by Dell PCs and Laptops for the last five years or so (HP printers, for the last ten).
I've probably purchased at least a couple of hundred of their PCs, Servers and laptops.
I currently use a Dell Latitude laptop.
I've rarely had to use their support, but when I do I insist on the plan of action I want because some of their Techs can try to fob you off with their usual route of action that keeps you on the phone for hours.