When it sucks to own a Dell

Dear Dell:
Suppose you’re a business traveler on a mid-afternoon flight to a two-day trade show in a large metropolis. In your haste to adhere to the new arbitrary security restriction of the month, you were all over packing the sub three-ounce shaving cream, but forgot your Dell laptop power cord. Worse, you didn’t realize this until you already spent 1.2 hours of your laptop’s 1.5 hour potential working on important stuff.
Here’s what you can do:

  • Have one overnighted from Austin. Well, not exactly overnight – it would have arrived today, just as I’m packing up the sock puppets that I’ve been using to give product demos. (“Imagine my right hand is an iso-surface and Mister Binky here is a cut plane.”)
  • As if reading from the script, representatives at the big box stores I called (Best Buy, Circus City, Fry’s, Staples, Duct Tapes) all said: “Sony, HP, Toshiba: no problemo. But Dude, you got a Dell.
  • Find a third-tier business that “reprocesses” old leaseback Dells and parts them out on eBay and other fine commerce establishments. This was time consuming and unproductive. Of the five numbers I called:
    • One was somewhere in the midwest.
    • An inaudible warbling on the answering machine.
    • One person spoke no language I’m familiar.
    • Two didn’t stock the ultra high-power one I needed and suggested I google around some more. (I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate how fun it is to use this aspect of a Blackberry.)
  • Rely on munificence from a fellow presenter, as I’m doing now… until they need to leave.
  • Rely on the Blackberry. I was doing this yesterday, but it bugs me when my emails are composed in 30 columns and short, fifth-grade sentences.

I’d like to hope I’m the only business traveler to forget a charger, but it seems improbable. Am I missing something, or is this a gaping hole in your strategy? Should I have bought a Mac?


10 thoughts on “When it sucks to own a Dell”

  1. Honestly, the only times I can think of in which having a Dell would NOT suck are:

    1) You need to bludgeon a giant rat or cat-like swamp creature of some sort and only your Dell notebook is on hand

    2) You are stranded on a desert island and you need to use the defective battery to start a fire to survive

    But I am, of course, an unabashed Apple fan who, even in his days before ever using a mac, still never owned a Dell. Toshiba and HP and Microsoft get all of the credit for making me hate PCs.

  2. My work just replaced my Dell. With another Dell. Oh Well.

    Actually, they bought a complete setup with monitor, docking station, keyboard, mouse, travel bag and laptop. With that setup you get not one, but two a/c adapters. One stays on the desktop with the docking station, the other is always in the travel bag.

  3. Should I have bought a Mac?

    Presumably there are Apple dealers in every reasonably large town in the US, so you might have been lucky.

    Here in Australia, even in our largest cities it can take them several days to find you the right power adapter to suit your particular Mac (“What a pity you don’t have the latest model – we’ve got plenty of those in stock…”)

  4. I had this problem last year with my Sony P4 laptop that has about 1 hour of battery life, if I’m careful not to read from the hard disk. Turns out that Radio Shack (among others) sells a universal power brick called an iGo that has lots of power and available adapter plugs most laptops and other portable electronics. Works as a car charger too. You can even charge your cell phone while powering your laptop. As long as they keep making tips it can be your backup charger. You do have to remember to bring it though…


  5. I found a similar gizmo, different brand name, at Fry’s this weekend. However, like the igo, it only powers my laptop, it doesn’t charge the battery. Apparently my Dell Inspiron 9300 has a proprietary battery made of enriched uranium — which would explain why it weighs so much. I plugged an igo in and the machine’s BIOS went nutty because a non-Dell power source was present. Weird.

    I’ve since ordered another power supply off of ebay.

  6. We use Dell laptops at work.

    Two things….

    1. For battery charging in the car, use a power inverter. If you get a two plug one, you can also plug in your TV, blender.. whatever. 🙂 You have to remember a power cord, though, but your battery WILL charge.

    2. Then, Dell is a pain in the butt because their power cord is proprietary.

    Are you going to make a nuclear weapon out of your battery?

  7. Blender? 🙂

    Are you going to make a nuclear weapon out of your battery?

    It’s tempting, but would inevitably cause an overreaction by TSA. “No more than 3 ounces of heavy water permitted; must be in a one-quart, zip top plastic bag.”

  8. In a rush to make my afternoon flight to Dallas I unknowingly left my Dell charger on the desk. I used my Dell laptop on the plane to answer all my e-mail until the battery had no more. Imagine my horror when at the hotel I realized my Dell charger was in Michigan. I could not go three days without my laptop. I ran to a nearby Radio Shack to pick up the iGO system I had eyed previously. I was calmed by the thought that with the iGO I could charge my Palm, two phones, Ipod and laptop with one device in a hotel, car or airplane. I relished in the weight loss my breifcase was about to undergo. The Radio Shack even had all the tips I needed. Then I was shocked again, in small print on the package for the Dell tip it said “Power only, will not charge battery”. Dell chargers are so special no one can duplicate them. On the bright side I only carry two chargers instead of five.

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