new Alienware owner. - situation

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Well, I did it. I bought a coveted Alienware Area-51 m5550/m5705. I
could have gone with a other manufacturers but I like that whole alien
theme--it's too slick.

I anxiously opened the box and pulled out the computer. It looked
larger than I imagined. I measured it and sure enough, it was 16", not
14" -- I ordered a 15" display because I really don't like the 17"
displays, it's just too big--and this was.  I ignored the size
difference thinking that I'd just get used to it and wondered if they
screwed up in shipping. The label under the laptop indicated m5550 but
the serial number code indicated m5750.

I turned the computer on and was met with the huge Alienware
logo--AWESOME. But the I noticed that the graphics were sluggish, like
the graphics drivers had not been installed. So I assumed that they
missed a step and installed the system recovery CD--wrong drivers. I
had an NVIDIA, they sent me ATI drivers. No prob... I downloaded them
and tried to install. Nope! the drivers didn't recognize the hardware.
My patience meter started crawling down thinking of what I paid.

I called the tech support and they didn't seem too knowledgable, it was
obvious they were reading a script and were merely order takers for
more advanced tech support reps which my situation quickly became. The
tech was patient. After several driver and control panel checks failed,
he had me remove the bottom panel, unscrew the graphics card chassis
and reseat the card and the RAM--wow...I told him, "I shouldn't have to
do for a new computer". he reluctantly agreed and told me that
sometimes cards come loose in shipping. I kept at it and it still
didn't work--patience meter was dropping while I kept my cool talking
to the tech... We had to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the OS.
What a pain. But at least I got to see how the computer was built and
now I knew that the OS was clean. Eventually, the drivers worked and
everything's good.

The PowerCinema ( I think that's what it's called) doesn't work. It's
some weird Linux utility that is supposed to make it so that you can
use multimedia on your computer without going into Windows. Neat but

After I got it working and eventually got the drivers installed. I
liked it--I liked it a lot! It's fast, it's quiet and I'm getting used
to the 17" screen. But I called them and asked why they sent me a
larger computer than what I paid for. Alienware indicated that I
changed my order--which I did--in their mid production phase from a 15"
- UXGA to a 15.4" WUXGA. They didn't have the 15.4" WUXGA so they
upgraded my computer to a 17" m5750 and didn't charge me for it. I
thought that was cool.

So far, my experience with ALienware has been decent--not outstanding
as I would expect for what you're paying. I had a cheap little COMPAQ
presario that had much better QA than the Alienware. They have some
quality problems back there, they need to fix them because your avarage
user is NOT going dive in unde the laptop to reseat the card. I'm
thinking about the typical Apple user who my wife and kids are and
there's no way they'd get into the hardware. That, and the techs need a
little more training.

AW: "ok, now start unscrewing the braces that hold heat sink..."
ME: "um, ok... should I remove the battery first?"
AW: "oh yea! remove that first..."
ME: "yikes..."

I like it now--I like it a lot, but it was a different feeling a few
days ago.


Re: new Alienware owner. - situation

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Your experience with tech supprt is not untypical.  The good bit is that you
got a resolution to your problem.  I can tell you from experience, that
attempting to fix something by remote control is far from easy, even if you
are familiar with the item you are trying to fix.

Re: new Alienware owner. - situation

nightrider.36 wrote:

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Interesting story. You appear to be happy with your machine now and this
will soon become water under the bridge. However, I would suggest you
write a letter to the manufacturer, relating your experience candidly.

They were wrong in "upgrading" your machine to a larger screen without
your consent. What they consider an upgrade could have been unacceptable
to you for various reasons.

The fact that, after shipping, the video card and ram needed to be
reseated and the OS reinstalled is not acceptable. A laptop is supposed
to be designed to allow traveling and this raises the question of
dependability. Your machine might have been the exception, but ...

I believe you would do the manufacturer a service by relating your

Best regards

John Doue

Re: new Alienware owner. - situation

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There was nothing in the OP that said that the graphics card and RAM
*needed* reseating.  The tech support guy got him to do it, but to no
effect, which suggests it didn't need doing.

Re: new Alienware owner. - situation

Yes, John. You're absolutely correct. My initial Alienware experience
will turn into water under the bridge and that I can simply enjoy the
notebook and never worry about it again.  But although most people
enjoy a 17" display, I'm not crazy about it and I may talk to them
about just sending me what they have in 15.4" UXGA. The notebook is
16" in width, it's not really that portable anymore.  And to think, I
was looking at Alienware's 13" models as ideal but I wanted something
with more of a graphics punch to it. My wife has a Macbook and I think
it's the perfect size.

But Alienware should have at least notified me of the equipment
availability options rather than just assume that I would prefer a 17"
display. That and I could have screwed something up by opening the
laptop. I'm very comfortable taking computers apart but I'd never seen
a laptop's internals--I've never had to.  I'd hate to think of someone
who thought they were getting a plug and play system--they'd hate it!

But regardless of what I decide to do, I will let them know that they
have a reputation for not having the best customer experience and my
experience has unfortunately confirmed that. Now I hope I never have
hardware issues with my notebook, I would not want to deal with them

It's a shame because it's a beautiful piece of equipment--if you're
into the Scifi thing.

Thanks for the advice.

John Doue wrote:
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