From now until the end of the year we’re taking a holistic look at notebook brands and how vendors fare when we aggregate data from our reviews, research, and third-party data. Generally, we focus on individual systems, but over time we’ve been able to identify trends based on the vendor. One company might always offer great design and excellent keyboards, another can be counted on to produce notebooks that get too hot. Each vendor has its strengths and its Achilles heel.
Until a few months ago, Dell held the number 2 position in notebook sales worldwide. Though recently passed by Acer, the company shipped over 10 million units in the third quarter of this year alone. Check out the brand’s strengths and weaknesses, its 2009 review scorecard, and overall rating. Then sound off in the comments and tell us what you think of the brand and about your own experience. Without your input, our report card will be incomplete.
Best Rated Notebooks
Worst Rated Notebooks
So far we’ve reviewed 13 Dell notebooks this year. Of those, 38.5% earned a rating of 3.5 and 4 stars (5 systems each). Only one earned the low rating of 2.5 (Inspiron 11z) and two systems received 3 stars. Out of the 13, we awarded two systems the LAPTOP Editor’s Choice.
Unfortunately, Dell earned a grade of C- in our Tech Support Showdown. According to a study by SquareTrade, Dell laptops have a failure rate of about 18 percent over a 3 year lifespan, which is about average.
Overall, the Dell brand can be counted on for good design and performance, though it isn’t often that the company turns out a notebook that we truly get excited about. (The Adamo XPS and Latitude Z both look very cool, but we have yet to review either system.) We’re also looking forward to testing the Vostro V12, Dell’s ultrathin but affordable small business laptop. We’re hoping that more future notebooks will couple the high-end ideals showcased in the Adamo line with the solid performance and value the brand has become known for.
Do you own a Dell laptop? Owned one in the recent past? What does Dell get right and where does it need improvement? Tell us how you’d rate Dell notebooks and why.