Less than a year ago, I spent quite a bit of money for what was then the top-of-the-line Dell PC -- the XPS 700.

It may be the last Dell I buy.

I can't complain about Dell's customer service. As far as I can tell, they've done all they can and should do to try to make it right. But a crappy PC is, well, a crappy PC, and magnanimous gestures can't change that.

The first problem was that the new PC was slow. And the last thing this PC should have been was slow. It's supposed to be the ultimate speed and power PC, so fast that it practically does what you want it to do before you even know what you want.

Still, it was slow and stumbling and constantly locked up, and I complained to Dell so much that they replaced it. Wow, I thought, you can't argue with that.

But the replacement PC they sent in May crashed spectacularly about a week ago. The techs decided that the motherboard was flawed. Almost instantly, Dell sent a new motherboard and a tech to install it, all without charge.

Nice try. Didn't work. Maybe it was another bad motherboard. Maybe the video cards were bad. Whatever it was, the tech spent four hours and still couldn't get it to boot up. So now yet another motherboard is en route, along with new video cards. But it's looking like all the data on that big old hard drive is gone, although I did back up a lot of it. And while I appreciate Dell's effort to make it right, that's not going to bring back the data I may lose because Dell sent me a lousy PC. Actually, make that two lousy PCs, plus, it appears, a bad motherboard.

So I don't know when this will be resolved, nor do I know what I'll have to work with when I'm finally back up again. And this experience -- two bad PCs, bad replacement parts -- doesn't exactly make me confident that my PC problems will be over when all this is finished. FYI, I'm making this blog update on my wife's PC, which is -- yikes -- also a Dell.

One thing I am certain of -- I sure wish I'd gone back for a long second look at that iMac in the Apple store in Norfolk.

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