Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

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protagonist
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Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:16 am

Reviewers across the board seem to lavish incredible praise on the Dell XPS 13- most choose it as the best ultrabook available. Here is an example from a reviewer I consider generally reliable: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-be ... ultrabook/

Yet it gets mediocre reviews from users, who have loads of complaints about build quality and other issues. This is true on multiple sites. On Amazon the XPS 13 gets a 3.7 rating with 21% rating it as "poor" (1 star).

Can anybody explain the discrepancy?

Bitzer
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Bitzer » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:26 am

I am currently looking for a XPS 13 on eBay auctions. I can't speak to consumer reviews, but I have noticed that bidding is quite robust for fairly priced XPS 13. Perhaps poor reviews are directed towards models with less powerful processors, less memory, etc.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by nisiprius » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:33 am

Reviewers are in the bag?

(Seemingly that shouldn't apply to The Wirecutter, though).

I'm fairly serious about that. I don't know which reviewers you're reading or who they write for, but I've been reading computer magazines for decades and I've yet to see an article that seriously blasted the product from any company that advertised in the magazine. I was also quite disgusted when an article on how to buy a PC referred to "products from reputable companies like IBM, Compaq, and PCs Limited," in the issue with the first full-page ad from PCs Limited which, at that time, was a couple of tiers down from IBM and Compaq.

Another factor is that I don't think reviewers spend much time seriously living with or using the product. Reviews tend to parallel the same bullet points that the manufacturer makes in their literature. If the manufacturer says their Swiss Army knife has a tool for extracting broken walnut shells from horses' hooves, the reviewer will check it out and say "Wow! It really can extract broken walnut shells from horses' hooves" and gloss over the fact that the blades won't cut.

Reviews are definitely biased toward the trendy and spiffy. Products get good reviews if the owners can one-up the owners of lesser machines, so they overweight the features that are fashionable. You whip out your Swiss Army Knife and wow your colleagues with the tool for extracting broken walnut shells from horses' hooves, and watch them hang their heads in shame when they are forced to admit their knives can't do that.
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:40 am

Perceptions aren't always accurate except to those honing in on certain aspects they find important.

What is important to one person might not be important to someone else.

Kinda like Consumer Reports rating something on THEIR idea of what makes an item worthy of purchase. Might not be the focus of YOUR idea of worth at all.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by nisiprius » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:42 am

P.S. I always ignore reader reviews with 1 and 5 stars. They are always the same. The 5-star reviews sound like they're Astroturfed. The 1-star reviews sound like they were either written by disgruntled employees or by legitimately-ticked-off customers, but no way of telling how big the problem really is. Amazon's "most helpful critical reviews" are often useful.

The 3-star reviews tend to be the most useful, because they are most likely to give specifics. "The product wasn't dead out of the box, but I was surprised to find this unexpected thing about it that might not be a problem for you, but was a problem for me...."

For example, Amazon's "most helpful critical review" says, in part:
Awful keyboard for extended typing, November 17, 2016
This review is from: Dell XPS9360-7336SLV 13.3" Laptop (7th Generation Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, Silver) (Personal Computers)
Even after forgiving the defective spacebar, the keyboard is a dealbreaker
- The travel is shallow, and the keys are light, so they bottom out hard and give no proper tactile feedback.
- The edge of the keyboard is hard to find by touch. It's sunken, with the top of the keys even with the palm rest, which is fine, but there's very little gap between the keys and the palm rest.
- To shrink its footprint, they lop off the ends of the left and right-most keys, there's no dedicated PgUp and PgDown, and there's no suspend Fn key.
So, let's see, did The Wirecutter alert us to a possible issue? They do not. In fact, they say it has "a great keyboard."
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by AlohaJoe » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:00 am

protagonist wrote:Reviewers across the board seem to lavish incredible praise on the Dell XPS 13- most choose it as the best ultrabook available. Here is an example from a reviewer I consider generally reliable: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-be ... ultrabook/

Yet it gets mediocre reviews from users, who have loads of complaints about build quality and other issues. This is true on multiple sites. On Amazon the XPS 13 gets a 3.7 rating with 21% rating it as "poor" (1 star).

Can anybody explain the discrepancy?
Did you read the negative reviews?

Here are some possible theories:

- The wirecutter review says they spent 85 hours researching and testing 5-10 models, which works out to about 8 hours each. A person could use it for months of even years before discovering a problem.
- Professional Reviewers almost never have to deal with customer support/returns. But that is sometimes a factor in negative reviews. "The laptop was break but Dell's support is XYZ!!"
- Laws of large numbers: you're talking about 27% of 341 reviews: that's 90 people. For any mass-produced item there are going to be defects and problems. Is 90 more than any other mass produced item? I don't actually know. (The iPhone 6 has 268 1-star reviews.)

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by rolandtorres » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:13 am

Computer tech is one category where I put less credence than usual to Amazon user ratings. Consumer tech is still fairly personal as far as products go- for some, thinness matters more than keyboard travel and extra ports; for others, screens more than battery life. You have to understand the set of tradeoffs manufacturers make and decide which configuration represents value based on your own usage. The best pro reviews will look at the components and weight that more heavily than their own personal tastes. The average Amazon reviewer probably skews the inverse.

Do you see any laptop on Amazon that gets great ratings at scale? I'm guessing it is a Macbook- there is a reason Apple is usually the most valuable company in the world- it suits the minds and hearts of most people well.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by jesscj » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:18 am

I can't comment on the differences in reviews but my wife bought the dell xps 13 when it was released its been a good computer so far no issues, she wanted something with good screen size,touch screen,and light weight. She carries it in her backpack daily,been reliable and performance has been great.
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:21 am

I agree with much of the above, but still that does not explain the big disconnect in this case to me.
Perhaps poor reviews are directed towards models with less powerful processors, less memory, etc.
I don't think this is the case...most reviews I have read have been for latest models with medium specs and up, just as for other computers.
Reviewers are in the bag?
In general I think this is true. In fact, so many reviews seem to almost verbatim copy each other that I imagine many reviewers do exactly that, and have no clue what they are actually reviewing. Along the same lines, people pay professional reviewers to write positive reviews.

HOWEVER, as Nisi points out, like Wikipedia for general information, there are review sites that I assume (from rigorous testing methodology as well as my own experience) are generally quite reliable. That is why I quoted Wirecutter. And with a skeptical mind and enough experience one develops a knack for smelling a rat.
P.S. I always ignore reader reviews with 1 and 5 stars. They are always the same.
Me too (though some provide valuable detailed information, especially if repeated by enough users). But when there is a large enough sample of user reviews to be statistically meaningful, I do look at the numbers. And in this case, 66% give the XPS 13 4 or 5 stars and 34% give it 3 stars or less, with almost a quarter of users giving it a poor (1 star) rating. That, I think, has some meaning.....what I take from that is that users are all over the map about this computer (perhaps due to quality control issues- your experience may vary).
The wirecutter review says they spent 85 hours researching and testing 5-10 models, which works out to about 8 hours each.
One can also say that "professional" reviewers only test the machine out of the box, which says nothing about durability (though some, like Wirecutter, do their best to put the products through rigorous testing). But I think the same is true of user reviews...the vast majority are written within weeks if not days of purchasing the machine. And many of the negative reviews of this computer are for the "latest model" as well as for prior configurations.

So I am left confused. And in fact, it is very difficult to find ANY ultrabook on the market where user experience and professional reviews seem to correlate closely. At least for Windows machines. Macs are universally liked by all it seems, though they are also called markedly overpriced, and my gut feeling is there is a degree of both consumer and reviewer positive bias on Macs (based on personal experience), though they are undoubtedly good machines. But let's not discuss that here.....it is off-topic.

One big problem for me I see with the XPS 13 (if I read correctly) is a lack of a built-in HDMI port. Sure you can buy an adapter, but when I get a new computer I don't want to have to deal with adapters for something that basic. So then I look at other machines...HP Spectre, Asus, Lenovo 900 etc..... and find similar disconnects.

THE BOTTOM LINE.....How is a guy like me to decide where to sink my $1000 in a Windows Ultrabook and not risk kicking myself for the next two years? I feel like a bozo on this bus.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by likegarden » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:45 am

I can't contribute to the discussion about Dell XPS 13 laptop, but Dell is a good company. We use Dell XPS PCs for many years and love them, right now a XPS 8910 with a 27 in Dell monitor.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by AAA » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:48 am

Interesting how people look at reviews. I first focus on the 1 star reviews myself.

As for the Dell XPS, I noticed the same thing when I was looking at that laptop. But all the other laptops I considered generally had about 10% 1 star reviews also. The 2016 base 13-inch MacBook Pro has 16% 1 stars, understandable for the negative reaction it has generated, but even the well regarded 2015 version has 10%. Who knows.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:49 am

Do you see any laptop on Amazon that gets great ratings at scale? I'm guessing it is a Macbook


Macbooks and Chromebooks both tend to get excellent (4 star and above) ratings- my guess is because both play to a niche market and the products fit their niche (again, off-topic...don't want to argue the point).

But to varying degrees, there is a disconnect on many other PC models between professional and user opinions. Finding reliable information that would lead me to decide "X ultrabook will probably leave me very happy" is so difficult. And (from prior experience), a bad computer can be a nightmare in terms of loss of time, loss of data, repair costs, etc etc etc)

I'm still leaning towards the XPS 13 despite its limitations, but with so many dissatisfied customers I have my doubts, and may just stay with the imperfect machine I currently have (original model Yoga 13) rather than buy a new one. The enemy you know is often better than the enemy you don't know.

I have to remember how happy I was back in the 1970s with nothing but a slide rule. And in today's dollars the cost was probably comparable to a Chromebook.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by wjo » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:23 pm

FWIW, I use the XPS13 as my travel notebook for work. It has been a good and reliable machine. Small form factor and weight make it easy to travel with. No issues. However, it isn't a full size laptop so there some compromises from the form factor. I wouldn't want it as my sole machine but for travel its fine. I would expect many of the complaints come from people who use this as their primary machine. If this was to be my only computer, I would would buy a larger notebook.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Just sayin... » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:19 pm

I have a Dell XPS13 as my personal travel machine. It's an I-7/16/512 Sky Lake model I got on sale at Costco - with an extended warranty. As others have said above, there are too many compromises to use it as my daily driver, but for on-the-road work, it's just fine. I run Photoshop/Lightroom and Quicken on it, and use it for watching Netflix/Amazon Prime/Youtube videos while travelling - and it handles everything easily. The trackpad isn't as sensitive as the Macbook Pro and it isn't as nice as the new Lenovo X1 Yoga I have for work but, for my uses, it's just fine. BTW - I always use an external Logitech rechargeable gaming mouse (fits my hand) with this computer. The keyboard is merely OK (use a Das Keyboard on my desktop system), but is sufficient for limited sessions. And, with the latest Quicken 2017 update 3, the font scaling issues I was experiencing have disappeared! All things considered, I do not regret my purchase.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:28 pm

Interesting about having a separate "travel computer".

For most users (eliminating power users and those with specific requirements for work, etc), I would think that one computer would be all one needs these days.

I have an ultrabook with a 13" screen- Yoga 13- i have issues with it, but ignoring that:

When I am home I run it with a solar-powered wireless mouse and keyboard and a 28" monitor. Thus I don't care about the trackpad or keyboard or display when I'm home. I can plug it into my TV for watching movies, etc via HDMI and slip it into a little daypack for traveling (which I do a lot). I use my computer a lot but it is all I feel like I need. Plus having one device eliminates having to sync data, rely on the cloud (I am sometimes in places with sketchy internet), etc, and simplifies my life.

I wouldn't want yet another device to deal with. I see no real benefit of a dedicated home machine and travel machine.

The need for a separate $60 device for an HDMI port (with reported reliability issues), however, is a factor re: the XPS-13, since I have no problem plugging my Yoga 13 into my 28" monitor or my TV at home with a simple cable. I'm amazed that such a great machine would overlook that.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by blinx77 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:55 pm

Some of it is probably reviewers in the bag due to heavy spending on advertising by Dell. Some of it is that there will always be some people who have a problem with any computer, and often they swoop on to complain when they are frustrated. Reviewers also do like shiny spiffy things, so that's why they like the XPS13.

I bought the XPS13 this summer. This was a bit of a departure for me, as in the past I have (i) paid less for more boring things and (ii) prioritized "sturdy" models (the Lenovo was as-advertised, the HP had quality issues anyways). I was drawn in on the advertising for the XPS13 and decided to splurge for fun. I enjoy the laptop greatly, I am sure I would be fine with others too.

You should assume you could get a comparable laptop for $100 or maybe even $150 cheaper and that the rest of what you are paying for is that it looks nice, feels nice, has a smaller footprint, has the thin bezel and is generally thought of as "cool."

If you want a fun splurge, go ahead and get the XPS13. It's worked great for me. If you want to save your $$, the Asus Zenbook seems comparable for like $100 less, so I'd get that.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Just sayin... » Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:38 pm

protagonist wrote:... I see no real benefit of a dedicated home machine and travel machine...
Here's my use case:

At home: I have a relatively high-performance system with 32 GB RAM, powerful graphics, LG 34" curved monitor, , 2TB of fast storage, Das Keyboard, USB-connected audio system, and hard-wired network. I can listen to high bitrate audio, play a few games at a reasonable frame rate, edit raw photos, and manipulate Quicken, Google Sheets and my Schwab financial website - all at the same time (One desktop holds all of the last three together). It's overkill, it's ergonomically dialed-in, and I love it. Also, at home, I can plug the XPS13 in (power wire only) where it lives in my remote data closet, boot it up, then access it from my main system using RDC (great for accessing to enable sync, updates, etc.).

On the road: I can do everything described above (except power-hungry games), and access a subset of my photos. Audio options are limited by DAC performance, and sound quality of my Bose headphones. It's lighter, the battery lasts somewhere around 6 hours while I'm using it, and I make accommodations for ergonomics. Did I mention it is really light?

But, the other use case that nobody has brought up is I have a higher-availability configuration than pure backups provide: if one of my two systems dies or becomes unusable, I can easily switch use to the other (and do so regularly) and continue without loss. I use cloud sync for non-sensitive files, and manually sync critical files when attached to my home network. I use bitlocker for a degree of security, back up both systems to my local NAS, and to a remote location, using Crashplan. I've developed my use case over the past decade, and it works perfectly for me. That said, I'm always open to new ideas...

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by MandyT » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:00 pm

protagonist wrote:...I see no real benefit of a dedicated home machine and travel machine.
At 55, my eyesight is still pretty decent, but it's harder than it used to be to read things that are tiny.

I've been a TracFone user since 2002; I currently have a "feature phone" that permits texting and rudimentary web surfing (I think I could use it for email but I don't). I dithered literally for years trying to decide whether to enter the iPhone/iPad or Android ecosystem. After looking at how small the screens are on 7-inch and 8-inch devices, I decided to get a 10-inch Android tablet. While I was researching it, I noticed a similar model that runs Windows and comes with a detachable keyboard. I mainly use it as if it were a netbook. (It's one of the older Asus Transformer Books, for the record.)

It currently runs Windows 10 and I use it as my travel computer. It has a 32G hard drive but I don't keep very much on it, usually just a couple of files on which I might want to work. I decided against a ChromeBook because I don't want to have to be on the internet to do anything. At home, I have a laptop with a 15.6 inch screen running Windows 7 (that I purposely didn't upgrade) which is my main computer. It would be conceivable to travel with it, but much less convenient, and I'd be more concerned about losing both the machine and the information on it.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by TimeRunner » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:14 pm

Just as an FYI, Wirecutter and Sweethome were purchased last month by the New York Times Company: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/25/busin ... utter.html
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by nisiprius » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:41 pm

And another factor is "reviewer grade inflation." I remember one Mac magazine that started out rating everything on a one-to-five-mouse scale, with no half-mice, and reviews distributed across the whole 1-to-5 range. Suddenly, a few years later, they introduced half-mice and, mysteriously, almost all the reviews now fell into the 3-to-5-mouse range, with the exception of occasional products which were always from companies that did not advertise in the magazine.
Just sayin... wrote:...The keyboard is merely OK (use a Das Keyboard on my desktop system), but is sufficient for limited sessions...
Which is interesting, because to me that says that the Amazon review I quoted identified a real issue which the Wirecutter review somehow completely overlooked. You would think that even a short-time reviewer would have formed an opinion about the keyboard, and it seems like a disconnect when they say it has a "great keyboard" when you say it is "merely OK... sufficient for limited sessions" and the Amazon reader review called it a "deal-breaker."

It seems like a computer that people should not buy if they a) are picky about keyboards and b) don't have a way to actually try out an XPS 13 and judge the keyboard for themselves. Yet the Wirecutter review says that the keyboard is "great" and, later, that it is "comfortable." This seems like a possible case of reviewer "grade inflation" because later on it transpires that they think the HP Spectre has a better keyboard, so apparently the HP's is greater-than-"great."

A lot of professional reviews seem to follow the rule, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by saver007 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:28 pm

As a matter of fact, I just picked up a XPS 13 from Costco today. It was on sale for 1299 .. discounted $300. I was seriously debating if I should get hp specter x360 instead as it was $300 cheaper for the same spec and feels equally or better than XPS in hand.. I am not sure if XPS is worth dishing out $300 more but at the end I decided to spend the extra for 300.. I would say reading xps reviews was a factor in my buying decision although I agree with you I doubt the intention behind such rave reviews.. other main factor why I went with xps was seeing another HP display display model (envy) with a broken screen in the store that instantly made me doubt build quality of HP.. also I found specter's 360 hinge not a good fit..

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by btenny » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:32 pm

I can say some things about this issue. I bought a HP Spectre notebook with almost the same specs as the Dell last year. It is a much better machine than the Dell machine. It has a full aluminum case. It has a great keyboard that is back lit. It has a HDMI port and 3 full size USB ports. This year I got my wife the same machine but made sure it was last years model. It seems that the this years notebooks are slightly lighter and thinner but eliminated the HDMI port and then put in USB-C small ports. It seems all the notebook suppliers are doing these things to get smaller lighter products. Then you have to carry dongles. So just order the older model from somewhere.

The other reason I went with HP is Dell reliability has gone way down. I used to buy exclusively Dell computers. Then my last two machines were just defective in some way right out of the box. One had a bad key initially and a dead disk drive two week later. The other had a bad battery at 3 months. Then both machines had batteries die again after about 2 years. Then their machines are just heavy and cheap looking. The HP looks good. Like the Mac Book Air.

Good Luck.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by ChasingSirens » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:47 pm

Based on all the good reviews, I also bought a dell XPS brand new a few years ago. I took good care off it and it still fell apart within a year. The screen began to peel and a joint connecting the screen to the body fell off. Again, I took good care of it, never dropped it, and traveled with it infequently. It was one of the worst purchases I have ever made and I thought I was paying a little more for a premium product. I will never buy a dell again. I currently own a Microsoft surface pro (no issues) and love it. *My Mac Book laptop from a decade ago still runs to this day.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Just sayin... » Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:14 pm

btenny wrote:...Dell reliability has gone way down. I used to buy exclusively Dell computers. Then my last two machines were just defective in some way right out of the box. Luck.
This brings up a good point. The screen half-failed (top half died) on my first XPS13 in its' second month of life, so I returned it to Costco and got another - which has been flawless for six months now. There's the "bathtub curve" for parts/system reliability, then there's poor design. Overall, I would judge the XPS13 "fair" in terms of reliability. This is because of the earlier-described screen failure, the poor quality of BIOS updates, and the malfunctioning/recalled Thunderbolt dock. On a positive note, when you get a good unit, it's relatively solid, performs well, and works like a good system should. If you buy from a retailer with a good returns policy, you're in better shape.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by mac808 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:23 pm

I bought a Dell XPS 13. Loved it at first. As others have mentioned, Dell reliability and customer service (when problems need to be fixed) have gone way, way down. I had such a bad experience that I will not buy from Dell again.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by westie » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:01 pm

Bought one 6 months, it's been great

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by DVMResident » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:14 am

I have a XPS 15 (not 13) that replaced my Yoga Pro 2, which my kid broke. Decided to go with a build more solid with a toddler in the house. I love it. Probably the best laptop I've had ever had.

The good: screen is super (bright, good color, high res, good viewing angles) with a thin bezel, the footprint is small and slim profile, performance is solid, build quality is high, track pad is great, and it had real ports. The GPU really helps for my uses (Solid Works, some mid-level gaming). GPU not an option on the 13". I find the keyboard better than most ultrabooks and have no problems writing lengthy documents.

Meh: Battery life is ~6 hours, which is solid for Windows with a bright high res screen. Can stretched to 8 hours with the Dimmer program (only used on plane trips).

Bad: the speakers are 'meh and the dimmest screen setting is too high (fixed with Dimmer program). The hinge is not a 'yoga'/flexi type. No pen input like a surface or other fancy stuff. Just a solid classic clam shell style laptop.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:58 am

I had been considering a Windows machine after Apple initially disappointed me this product cycle.

All the windows folks I know pointed me toward the Dell XPS 13" or 15" as a nice way to ease from Mac to Windows, as they reported them to be similar in build quality.

I bought both mid range Dell XPS 13" and a base MacBook Pro 13" 2016 with return policies in place. The Dell had better specifications on paper & for the money, but does not run as smoothly. The keyboard is not as solid feeling, screen not as sharp, and the trackpad is not as intuitive or precise (though it's not horrible). I can't comment on other Windows laptops, but it seems like Dell is just (rather poorly) trying to get some market share back from Apple. There seems to be a bit of a price premium for the Dell logo and smaller form factor, which is not something a typical Windows customer values. They just want specs, reliability, and value, I think. I've gotten spoiled by the MacBool build quality, service, support, and resale value. The XPS would likely be worth a lot less than a comparable MacBook Pro after 3-4 years of general use.

kjvm.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by rgs92 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:05 am

Read notebookreview (dot com) for a while before you buy a laptop computer. The custom builders provide a higher quality product that you can tailor to your needs for a good price. Don't just jump into the big brand names.
[Edit: my Dells and HPs are in the junk heap (well, recycling). A friend has a Lenovo a few years old with lots of glitches. I have a 6 year old Puget Computer (a Serenity model) that has worked like a charm and going strong and I'm typing on it right now.]
Last edited by rgs92 on Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by OAG » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:19 am

FWIW I had a 13 Dell but returned it since I felt it was too small for my uses. I then purchased the 15 inch model from Dell. Both were top of the line models (I7, SSD, Touch Screens, etc.). The 15 inch model fit my uses just fine although it had so many problems that dell replaced it twice. Now the one I have is just fine. When Dell sent me the second 15 inch replacement they did give me some upgrades to compensate for all of the problems I had. So now I have a top of the line Dell XPS 9550 with a 1TB SSD (originally was 256GB) and 32 GB of memory (originally was 16 GB).
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979 21 years of service @ 38.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:29 am

mac808 wrote:I bought a Dell XPS 13. Loved it at first. As others have mentioned, Dell reliability and customer service (when problems need to be fixed) have gone way, way down. I had such a bad experience that I will not buy from Dell again.
+1. We had a Dell system in my workplace, mission-critical, so it had Dell's top-level support plan attached, in which Dell supposedly would come on site within an hour to repair in case of failure. When the system failed, I called Dell, who refused to send a technician or repair parts until I cracked open the system and narrowed the fault down to a board through process of swapping boards with the redundant unit. The system was down for two days.

If given the choice, I will never buy a Dell system.
"I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people; and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." (Aaron Sorkin)

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Zecht » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:57 am

Hopefully this write up will help clarify some of the reasons for disproportionate review vs. reality situations.

Essentially all tech comes with certain failure rates. You have to keep in mind that whenever you buy whole computers (rather than parts to build one) you are buying the least reliable component. What happens a lot is that sites like wirecutter, Ars, Gizmodo, and CNET all get pre-release products that are pre-checked by the tech office before they are delivered to journalists. This results in them getting a near-guaranteed good product that functions as intended. What they are reviewing typically includes how it holds up under pressure, fit & finish, capabilities, and how good/not good it is for its chosen job. For instance, you typically don't need an XPS if you aren't gaming regularly on it since you're paying a lot for the GPU capabilities.

What happens in reality is that tech is mass produced overseas (typically) and shipped with very little QA, this is especially true for certain models or items. A great example is the Galaxy Note 7, it got major positive reviews early on before they started catching fire and exploding. Another example is the older style Western Digital green drives. They were meant to be a lower power, higher efficiency drive, but became a major liability and had a failure rate in the high 40%! For reference, most similar Seagate and HGST drives at the time had failure rates around ~5-11% depending on model.

My personal opinion is that when in the market for a new computer for gaming, machine learning, or supercomputing, you should always build it yourself. The few hours for a few days it takes to research and spec out a brand new computer is worth the trouble, and will probably save ~$600+. I do it more as a hobby than as a cost savings though, so YMMV.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by junior » Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:22 pm

Some of the models seem to have good user reviews on online stores I'm not sure where you are looking?

Best buy lists one of the models that costs 1,421 as having good reviews (at least on average):

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/dell-xps-13 ... Id=4902703

Microcenter hardly has any reviews but those few it does have are good

http://www.microcenter.com/product/4553 ... ilver?ob=1

One thing to keep in mind is the difference between the "as configured" pro reviews and particular models as configured that people buy.

Disclaimer: I've never used the XPS 13. I'm writing this from a Thinkpad.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by telemark » Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:29 pm

If your travel computer gets lost or damaged you still have your main computer safely waiting at home. And if it's a cheap Chromebook, you haven't even lost a lot of money.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by gkaplan » Mon Nov 28, 2016 10:13 pm

I bought a Dell desktop in March 2014. The mouse didn't last beyond the first year. I hated the keyboard and replaced it with a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, which I absolutely love.
Gordon

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by jjface » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:03 am

I had a Dell XPS 13 - it was quite amazing how small they got it. That only really mattered when I wanted it to fit into my 11" laptop bag though! In the end I sold it as the keyboard felt a tad shrunk to me and I had a hard time adjusting to it as a daily driver. I used it as a travel laptop but I don't travel much so didn't really need it. I also did not find that the battery life estimates on review sites were anywhere near what I was seeing. I think I managed 6-7 hours of light use and the review sites had it at 50% more for the version I had. It wasn't a bad laptop but I do feel the review sites hyped it up because of the 11" footprint and gave people an unrealistic expectation. It is just a laptop with a few flaws as with all laptops.

No problems with build quality - it was solid. Unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad 710s I tried and returned. Awful keyboard layout too so avoid that one.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Marylander1 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:41 am

I have an XPS 13 for work, with the super high resolution touch screen. It's gorgeous (especially the screen), but the keyboard slows my typing considerably, with shallow travel and missing keys (compared to my personal Lenovo X260).

The Dell TrackPad is a disaster, crude and imprecise (not just for drawing, but even using application menus) so I use an external trackball 90% of the time. I also need use to bring an HDMI adapter, and the battery doesn't last nearly as long as the Lenovo.

One perverse benefit: when I use the Dell without the external trackball, the crude mouse control forces me to keep up to date with keyboard shortcuts, which are faster but a pain to remember.

While the XPS is small and shiny, adding the trackball, adapter, and power supply make it much bigger and more cumbersome for actual use than my Lenovo, which is my sturdy workhorse.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Pill » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:25 am

Sorry, I have not read posts or your original post other than the title. A few years ago before I crossed over to the bright side/dark side. I bought the latest and greatest dell 15z. It sucked, it just didn't meet my demands. (slow) I sold it at a $500 lesson. My better half sold me on the MacBook. And I can't say enough about this machine, and if you have an iPhone, its amazing! definitely worth the price. I will never go back. Or if I do its going to be decades from now. Edit Let me add I bought this machine in 2012 and its rocking like day 1. I have never had a pc that could work like this.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by CULater » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:34 am

All I can say is that I had seen the glowing reviews of the XPS 13 and was quite interested. Then I saw one at Best Buy and the bottom of the thing was hot, hot, hot (as in frying eggs) so I dropped it from my list. Since it is essentially a Macbook Pro for Windows, I got the bright idea of buying an actual Macbook Pro and that's just what I did. Left Window-World forever after many years. Happy so far.
On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by knpstr » Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:08 pm

I'm a user. Love mine. Granted it has only been 2 weeks. But it is fantastic so far

7th gen i5
8 GB RAM
128 GB SSD
FHD display 1080p (non-touch)

Fast, sleek, and great battery life (by my standards). Typing here my battery estimate is at 14 hours remaining at 94% charge.

EDIT:FWIW also, mine doesn't get overly hot at all, even after netflix for hours (haven't heard a fan yet, I think it has a fan??). It is quite cooler than my old samsung junker that would sound like a jet taking off trying to cool itself from youtube videos.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:27 pm

Thank you all for the valuable input....much better than what I got from googling (at least on a practical level, since benchmark performance scores don't mean much to me in terms of what I would actually experience).

Input here, as well as reading countless user reviews, has led me to the conclusion that there is not a lot of difference in quality control between PC models sporting the same components.....they are all hastily built in probably the same factories in China, not extensively tested, and whether you get a peach or a lemon is largely a matter of luck. And customer service is universally bad. Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HP, Acer....take your pick.

Thus, with a small amount of trepidation, I decided to forego the $1000 machines I was originally investigating and bought a Thinkpad 13 from the Lenovo store with an i3-6100 processor, 256 Gb SSD and 8 Gb RAM for the low price of about $480 plus tax, free shipping. The silver one because it has a better display. It has an HDMI port, USB-C, flash card space, user replaceable battery, and user upgradeable RAM and storage.

If I find it sluggish or problematic in the future I will then spring for a $1000 machine and keep the Lenovo for backup, travel, whatever. Or give it to my daughter.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by knpstr » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:43 pm

protagonist wrote:Thank you all for the valuable input....much better than what I got from googling (at least on a practical level, since benchmark performance scores don't mean much to me in terms of what I would actually experience).

Input here, as well as reading countless user reviews, has led me to the conclusion that there is not a lot of difference in quality control between PC models sporting the same components.....they are all hastily built in probably the same factories in China, not extensively tested, and whether you get a peach or a lemon is largely a matter of luck. And customer service is universally bad. Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HP, Acer....take your pick.

Thus, with a small amount of trepidation, I decided to forego the $1000 machines I was originally investigating and bought a Thinkpad 13 from the Lenovo store with an i3-6100 processor, 256 Gb SSD and 8 Gb RAM for the low price of about $480 plus tax, free shipping. The silver one because it has a better display. It has an HDMI port, USB-C, flash card space, user replaceable battery, and user upgradeable RAM and storage.

If I find it sluggish or problematic in the future I will then spring for a $1000 machine and keep the Lenovo for backup, travel, whatever. Or give it to my daughter.
Congrats, IMHO 8gb is the way to go now days. 4gb no longer seems to really cut it. So I think you made the right choice there.

I've never owned a lenovo machine, but have heard good things. My xps 13 (above) was $899 with the $100 off promo, so you are still at a hefty 50% discount more or less. :beer
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by stlutz » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:45 pm

That Thinkpad 13 is a very good buy. It's hard to find a sub-$500 machine with an SSD and Intel wireless. Nice job!

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by amd2135 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:49 pm

I tried two of them (9350/Skylake) before I gave up and bought an X1 Yoga. Both were from the Dell Outlet directly.

The first was refurbished and had a major display defect. It would turn on and off at random. Dell support was an absolute nightmare and they accused me of refusing repair in the past. They wanted nothing to do with me. The fact that this was the previous owner could not be communicated to them. I was quoted weeks for an exchange.

I was able to return it for a full refund but it took over a month to get it. They "lost" the return. Conventional support was useless. I had to direct message them on Twitter to get anything done.

The second was "new, open box" but clearly not "new". It also had problems and I finally decided that the keyboard is awful. The return went more smoothly that time.

Love the Lenovo X1 Yoga. Lenovo's ThinkPad support is miles better as well.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:49 am

amd2135 wrote: Lenovo's ThinkPad support is miles better as well.
I found support for my Ideapad (original model Yoga 13 purchased early 2013) to be horrible. Though I had a Thinkpad from around 2004-2010 and support was quite good back then. That is encouraging that you found Thinkpad support good.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by knpstr » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:22 am

Out of curiosity I was looking at comparing the xps 13 to the thinkpad 13
As close as possible to the xps 13 (that I have), the price difference was $899 (xps) vs $625.80 (thinkpad)

The remaining differences were:
XPS had 60Whr battery vs Thinkpad 42Whr = 1.5X in favor of XPS
Thinkpad had 256 GB SSD vs XPS 128 GB SSD = 2x in favor of Thinkpad

I must admit, that battery life was the #1 thing I was looking for while 128 GB is more than adequate (for me).
However, for the price, with the Thinkpad you seem to get more bang for your buck being that it is 70% of the price of the XPS.
:beer
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:48 am

knpstr wrote:Out of curiosity I was looking at comparing the xps 13 to the thinkpad 13
As close as possible to the xps 13 (that I have), the price difference was $899 (xps) vs $625.80 (thinkpad)

The remaining differences were:
XPS had 60Whr battery vs Thinkpad 42Whr = 1.5X in favor of XPS
Thinkpad had 256 GB SSD vs XPS 128 GB SSD = 2x in favor of Thinkpad

I must admit, that battery life was the #1 thing I was looking for while 128 GB is more than adequate (for me).
However, for the price, with the Thinkpad you seem to get more bang for your buck being that it is 70% of the price of the XPS.
:beer
If you are still looking, check Lenovo again.
You should be able to get that same configuration (256 GB SSD) for under $500 with 8 Gb RAM. I upgraded today to 512 GB SSD for about $100 more- still under $600. Supposedly if you go through ebates.com you get 8% cash rebate. I never used ebates before so I am skeptical but will see.

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by knpstr » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:51 pm

protagonist wrote: If you are still looking, check Lenovo again.
You should be able to get that same configuration (256 GB SSD) for under $500 with 8 Gb RAM. I upgraded today to 512 GB SSD for about $100 more- still under $600. Supposedly if you go through ebates.com you get 8% cash rebate. I never used ebates before so I am skeptical but will see.
Lenovo required a display upgrade to compare equally to my XPS.
The "low end" display on the XPS is 1080p while the Lenovo is 720p ($55 upgrade)
As well as the i5 CPU option was being compared on both ($140 upgrade)
Also I noticed the Thinkpad has a "6th gen" CPU whereas the XPS has the newest "7th gen" CPU

There is also a difference in network cards (intel-lenovo vs killer?-dell)
Dell has a backlit keyboard
Lenovo has HDMI port, 1 more USB port
Dell has a 13" display in what is a traditional 11" form factor, Dell slightly thinner, 1lb lighter as well

So there are other differences, but probably negligible to the average users like us.
For me personally, (like I said before) out of all that, the 60 Whr battery was a big factor in my decision.
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Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by Marylander1 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:11 pm

protagonist wrote:I found support for my Ideapad (original model Yoga 13 purchased early 2013) to be horrible. Though I had a Thinkpad from around 2004-2010 and support was quite good back then. That is encouraging that you found Thinkpad support good.
Thinkpad is Lenovo's flagship business brand. Ideapad is their down-market consumer brand, so I'd expect cheaper parts, more failures, and worse service.

Lenovo support used to be fabulous, and I think it's less fabulous now—but still much better than Dell. My Lenovo Thinkpad X260 had a hardware problem where it would blue-screen with pointer failures. I made one call to Lenovo Support. They answered immediately, I described the problem, and they opened a ticket for me to mail it back to them to replace the motherboard. Total call time: 10 minutes. Whenever I've called Dell, the phone wait times are agony, and once they finally answer the clueless non-technical support person subjects me to an endless checklist of pointless tests, presuming I'm an idiot with plenty of time to waste on the phone with them.

For my prior computer (a Thinkpad x201), I paid for on-site support. It seems Dell, Lenovo, and all the different brands hire the same lowest-bidder contractors who show up in a van with only the parts the manufacturer guesses you'll need and a screwdriver. I had to show him how to open the case, he needed to return 3 days later for parts, and and he failed to put almost all of the screws back in, so everything was loose in the chassis until I bought a set of replacement screws on eBay. Ugh!

When I bought my new X260, instead of on-site service I bought the mail-in warranty (cheaper but slower). You mail it to a Lenovo facility, where the techs know what they're doing, have mountains of spare parts, and test repairs before shipping it back.

-Marylander1

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Re: Why do reviewers love the Dell XPS 13 but users don't?

Post by protagonist » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:45 pm

Lenovo support used to be fabulous, and I think it's less fabulous now—but still much better than Dell.
This morning I called Lenovo to change my order on my new Thinkpad- add a larger SSD. When I called the msg. recording said it would take 7 minutes for an agent to respond. It took 45 minutes.

And that was the SALES department! They want my business (or so I would think). I can imagine how long support for an existing unit could take.

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