Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dell's DeVo

I thought with all the advancement of modern-day "personal computers" that I might celebrate some de-evolution. Namely, by one of the biggest players in the market: Dell. More so, this is a short list of things that I have grown to hate Dell for and I need a place to gripe about it.
  • Upside-down, and angled USB ports - For several years Dell built a line of PC's with USB ports that were impossible to plug anything into. That's because the ports were flip-flopped from what they should have been, then angled at 45 degrees, and then covered with a plastic "hood" that had to be pulled up. Other than the fact that it reminds me of the deck lid on a Volkswagen Beetle - there is no benefit to this awful design flaw. If your PC was sitting on the floor (which it probably was, because the case was so damned big) you practically had to do a hand stand to plug in a jump-drive.
  • Dysfunctional Mouse Pads - How can you possibly screw up with a rubber matted piece of canvas? By plastering your logo onto it in high contrast colors then slapping some odd-ball reflective coating onto it which gives it a "shiny" appearance. The effect was that every time your optical mouse struck the lower right corner of the Dell logo, it repositioned itself on the screen. Today, I still occasionally find one of these mouse pads on a users desk and send it directly to the garbage. It seems that there are a lot of users with far more patience for something like this than me.
  • Ghost Mouse Syndrome - My poor father was the first to discover this flaw in Dell laptops. It seems that the mouse had a funny way of creeping around on it's own. Most attribute the problem to an oversensitive glide pad, which many other conspire that your mouse was being controlled by the souls of dead slave laborers from China. Aside from the creepy effect, the mouse would sometimes click itself too, causing a drag-over and delete effect on whatever you happened to be typing. I called Dell about it (not expecting much action). Dell said "plug in an external mouse". I asked "what if you're on an airplane or something?". Dell responded "you can also disable it in the BIOS". Ah yes. Problem solved. Dad can survive on Alt+Tab, Alt+F4, and other quick-key combo's.
  • Peek-A-Boo 15 Inchers - Oddly, just after the warranty had expired ... I saw a large number of 15 inch LCD displays being sent to the garbage. They seemed to come down with a case of "peek-a-boo". That's where your screen suddenly goes black. Just about the time you are picking up the phone to call the IT department, it comes back. Eventually, it goes black every thirty seconds or so making work impossible. Dell was aware of some sort of flaw in the devices but since these are "old news" they have made no attempt to assist anyone with one of these dying pieces of garbage. But if you call them, they can assist you in finding someone in your area who will recycle the components at little or no cost.
  • Case Bloat - Bigger is better! And titanic cases are back in style. Introducing the largest PC on the market - the GX-745 series. When you drop a few thousand dollars into a new PC these days, you expect to get your moneys worth. Dell sells that illusion by sending you an over-sized boat anchor. They seem to have forgotten how often office workers are relocated, and how many of us literally try to put these things on our backs to get them around. Sure it's nifty that the lid pops out of the side, and I have all sorts of little green tab things instead of screws. But all that extra plastic and aluminum make up for another 20 pounds and I fail to see how the bulk gives it any better of an appearance. Here's a neat trick - you can stack them. The tops are beveled to fit the bottom of another. We have had fun stock piling these our store room at work. Because nobody wants one, and those who do want one can't fit it into their desk.
  • Windows Vista> - In Dell's defense, they will still sell you a PC with Windows XP on it. But expect your laptop or desktop to still feature a prominent "Windows Vista" sticker on it. If I need to tell you why Windows Vista is a bad thing, you obviously haven't been subjected to it like I have. I will save that for another gripe session.

I'm sure you could think of a few reasons you hate Dell. Feel free to chime in with the comments feature.