Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (8.04) operating system has been flapping its wings in full-release form since late April, and now the latest Linux distro lands on pre-configured Dell systems. This isn't the first time Dell has offered Linux as an OS option, but up until now, OEM shoppers looking for a Windows-alternative were stuck using Feisty Fawn (7.04), bugs and all.
So why the nearly three month-long delay? Dell claims it spent that time in development to ensure a smooth rollout with the new OS, as well as testing for peripheral support, including ATI graphics, fingerprint readers, HDMI, and other odds and ends. Linux support has increased leaps and bounds from the pre-Vista days, but the emergence into the mainstream segment has been a relatively recent development, so it comes as little surprise that pre-configured systems using the latest distro release wouldn't be as quick to market as a Windows PC.
Dell currently offers Ubuntu on its Inspiron 530N desktop, Inspiron 1525N laptop, and XPS M1330 laptop machines, and is expected to add its XPS M1530N and new Studio 15N laptops to the lineup by early August.
Say what you will about Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Firedog computer repair centers, but no matter what amount of ridicule each one might receive in tech circles, those without access to a next-of-kin techspert find themselves using the oft overpriced (and sometimes overzealous) services offered by each. Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the fix-my-PC pie too.
According to the mega-chain, Dell is testing a repair and installation service for electronics in up to 15 of its stores in the Dallas area. The "Solution Stations" will not only offer PC repair, but HDTV and home theater installation, wireless support, and other electronic services.
"For Wal-Mart, the program provides an opportunity for us to understand more about what our customers need and expect in home installation and technology services, within a specific market," the company said in a statement on its website. Wal-Mart also indicated that the program is a small pilot and that there are currently no plans to expand outside of Dallas beyond the 15 select stores.
And what about pricing? According to the Dallas Morning News, memory installation will run $29 in-store, or $99 if making a house-call. To install a wall-mounted TV, connect cables, and integrate three video components, it is charging $289.
So it's official; you can now get everything and the kitchen sink at Wal-Mart, and that includes PC repair. But would you want to?
The company began shipping the XT tablet sans any multi-touch in December, 2007 but with an assurance that the feature would be added at a later time. It is very strange how some websites are highlighting the fact that the update is free. They shouldn’t forget that Dell hasn’t done a terrific job justifying XT’s exorbitant price – prime example of thickly veiled language – and the unavailability of the tablet’s purported forte for 6 months after launch implies that the company owes a favor or two to XT owners.
It seems everyone and their mother has jumped onto ultaportable bandwagon, and now it appears the mother of all OEMs will be getting in on the action too. Citing un-named "market sources", DigiTimes says come August, Dell will introduce a low-cost notebook of its own.
Dell's anticipated late entry has given other first-tier vendors the jump, but helping to play catch-up, Dell can be expected to use its leverage as a leader in the OEM market to undercut the competition. DigiTimes claims the Dell E series low-cost laptop will cost just $299, which checks in $100 cheaper than Acer's Aspire One. The anonymous sources also estimate Dell can penetrate the market with 2-3 million units this year.
(Ed Note:We're currently investigating the RIAA's alleged involvement with the audio problems users are facing on Dell laptops. An official Dell representative has stated that the omission of the Stereo Mix option is most likely an issue with Windows XP, and a driver has been released to fix the problem. We've contacted the RIAA and are awaiting their response. We'll follow up with this story when we have more information.)
Gateway and Pac Bell are the other two manufacturers to have bowed to the RIAA at the expense of their customers’ satisfaction and disabled the stereo mix feature without warning.
The trade group, which comprises leading record labels, has a very controversial past. Although RIAA doesn’t favor home audio recording and file sharing in an effort to prevent piracy, this same, ostensibly prudish organization was all for depriving several musicians of their own musical works by supporting a controversial “work made for hire” clause in 1999 legislation, which unfairly transferred copyrights of musical works to record labels.
It turns out that off-shoring tech support and customer service might not be such a great deal for companies after all. A paper titled, “Does Offshoring Impact Customer Satisfaction?” posted on ssrn.com for feedback, touches on the subject. There is plenty of evidence that off-shoring saves companies money on their bottom dollar, but what hasn’t been looked at until now is how it affects customer satisfaction and loyalty. What is surprising is not that the papers over all conclusions that in customer service off-shoring is bad but that back office functions like tech support can be a good thing for customer perception. I find that hard to believe from a tech’s aspect.
If you’re the tech Guru for your circle of friends and family you know that they all cringe at the thought of calling tech support. They will relate horror stories of speaking to someone claiming to be named “Bob”, who is reading text from a computer screen in a hard to understand, thick accent. This is why they call you with their technical woes. The paper however suggests that this alone isn’t what causes customer dissatisfaction, but rather the perceived lack of expertise.
Make the jump to hear more about off-shoring and the invasion of the computer puppets!
Dell has announced a couple of exciting apps that will come aboard the bright range of Studio notebooks. Strangely both of them make the Dell Studio appear like Dell's homage to Mac. But it is only after the jump that you will know whether the two proprietary apps, Dell Dock and Dell Video Chat, are anything to write home about.
Dell has always bolted out with top honors for the most galling customer service experience. Although it claims to be working earnestly at improving customer service, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
It had committed the same blunder just a month ago and subsequently apologized. Dell has no choice but to offer replacements which it is currently doing. But even mandatory replacements seem such a privilege with Dell’s customer-service credentials.
Perhaps sensing an increasing divide between the latest fad in ultra-portable laptops (like the Eee PC) and costly desktop replacements, Dell is setting its sights squarely on the middle ground while also appealing to the fashion conscious. Consumers can customize the Studio 15 and Studio 17 notebooks by choosing between 7 seven different color configurations along with a handful of trim color options.
But looks run only skin deep. To see what these new notebooks are packing under the hood, click through the jump.
From the Air to the Pro, Apple’s MacBooks are winning the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere—including PC enthusiasts. Maximum PC investigates whether the hoopla is warranted.
What do you really get for the money when you throw down for a MacBook, and how do these Apple computers compare to their PC counterparts in terms of performance, features, overall usability, and price? Maximum PC tests and reviews the MacBook Air, the standard MacBook, and the MacBook Pro against five PC models sporting similar price points and formfactors. It’s time we set the record straight.