Dell Studio XPS 1340 mini-review

Ahhh, the Dell Studio XPS 1340.  It is a sight to behold.  Slick piano black, with a leather accent.  That gorgeous LED backlit screen.  That white-led backlit keyboard!  What’s not to like?  I, like many others, fell in love and right into the trap that this Black Widow of the laptop world had set.

I bought this laptop when it first came out approximately 6 months ago (from time of posting).  When I finally received the laptop, it was indeed gorgeous, but I encountered problems almost immediately.  Lock-ups, freezing, long boot times, and media touch buttons not working were just a few of the issues.

I tried updating the BIOS, reformatting the hard drive, etc., but the problems persisted, and it was clear they were related to hardware and heat.  Since this is an XPS laptop, you get Dell’s top-tier customer service, which roughly translates into an Indian who speaks with a British accent, vs. a Bangladesh accent.  If you think that is a racist comment, call Dell support and then hit me back and let me know how you feel.

Of course the root issue is not about race or accent, it’s about quality and locality.  Good customer service is an art.  Cultural and relational abilities are important.  It shouldn’t be outsourced half way around the world to a company where employee turnover is worse than a fast food joint.  What does this company have to do with your business?  Do you think they are invested in the perception and protection of your brand?  Of course they aren’t.  They don’t care, and customers don’t just know it… they feel it.

Look folks, it’s simple.  If I were in India, and I called tech support for an Indian company and got somebody in Kansas who had no idea what I was talking about (and couldn’t understand me), I’d be equally pissed.  There isn’t a single sane person in the world who thinks Dell’s customer service and tech support is awesome.  Not one.   In fact, when you call Dell support, it’s widely known that 3 things are guaranteed to happen:

  1. You will lose 4 hours of your life.  Minimum.
  2. You will explain your problem no less than 6 times.
  3. You will be talking to the “wrong person” no less than 5 times.

Throughout your excellent customer service experience, be prepared for multiple transfers, hold placings, huge servings of frustration, and a kick in the balls at the end.  Welcome to Dell, thanks for calling.

Alas, I digress.  After the tech support merry-go-round, Dell finally dispatched a tech guru to my house to fix the heat issue (who admitted he “sees these all the time… they all suck”).  What they did was replace the stock heat pipes and fan with the exact same parts.  Good one.  Of course the fix didn’t work, so 2 weeks later, another tech was back to replace the entire motherboard and bottom assembly. Yet another 2 weeks later and I’m back on the phone with Dell, begging them for my money back.  No dice.

An email to Michael Dell yielded a better response.  After some bullshit haggling they finally agreed to build me a brand new Studio XPS 1340 replacement laptop.  Not a refurb, but a NEW one.  Awesome.  The laptop is here a few weeks later, and I’m typing this post on it.

Not all is well in replacement-land, however.  The media buttons still “freeze up” and become useless.  The laptop runs a bit cooler, but you still can’t use it on your lap if you hope to reproduce someday.  Even worse is that to a certain extent, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I know it’s only a matter of time before the other problems set right back in again… the overheating, the freezing, and the gallons of frustration.  The anticipation of failure is perhaps the most unique thing about this laptop.  I just can’t trust it to be there for me.  Betrayal of trust is the #1 sin that laptop manufacturers need to avoid if they hope to retain their customers.  Though it hasn’t happened 100% yet, I know it’s coming.  Until then, I know one thing is for sure…  The Dell Studio XPS 1340 sucks balls.

Do yourself a favor… Get a MacBook Pro and put Windows 7 on it.  Butter.  And in the off-chance something does go wrong, you can walk right in to an Apple store, look the employee in the eye, and explain to them what is wrong.  And they’ll understand you.  No transfers.  Priceless.  And if that doesn’t work, you can punch them in the face right then and there.  You can’t punch a face through the phone.  Food for thought.


2 thoughts on “Dell Studio XPS 1340 mini-review

  1. Great article, you only left out how they basically guinea pigged everyone who purchased one these things. GREAT quality control Dell to not ever notice that the keys and even the Intel inside sticker permanently etch the monitor when the lid is closed!! If you don’t put a cloth between them every time it will start immediately with the slightest movements. Soon you will have perfect outlines of your keys gouged into the plastic monitor. Way to go Dell!!!

    Ditto on the customer service. It truly is as if they have abandoned any real attempt at satisfaction. I mean that with no sense of hyperbole. It honestly feels “lowest bidder” designed and serves no purpose but to instill a sense of hopelessness so that you give up before you cost them any additional expense.

    I keep the antenna toggle on the media bar permanently disabled as it loves to just go haywire constantly turning itself off and on and off and on…sometimes for hours. When this happens you know the media bar is dead until a cold reboot. At least now it doesn’t sever/connect my wifi connection every 4 seconds.

    No Dell, again, thanks for the job. I’ve been working your QA unwittingly since I bought this a year ago. But one question: Where’s my paycheck? I need it to go buy a Mac this year. And I want you to know I will tell everyone I ever meet that it was Dell that made me a Mac man!

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