OK, quick recap. I now have 3 Dell XPS laptops. An M1210 (my ex-laptop), an M1330 (my wife's machine), and an M1530 (my main laptop). For all three I went for the three-year at-home warranty, plus the usual XPS tech support line. I've now had to use the XPS tech support twice, and let me tell you it rocks.
First was the WiFi card in the M1210: it just died one day. No connection to the router. I was on a trip to Microsoft to top it all, so I bought a USB WiFi from the local Fry's to tide me over. I phoned up XPS tech support when I got back and was rewarded, not with a drone reciting a series of questions by rote, but someone who actually listened, agreed with me that the card was dead, and queued up a new card to be delivered after ascertaining that I was willing to switch the cards myself. The next day it arrived and I swapped the cards over and sent the old one back. Clean, simple, and made me feel good about spending the extra cash for the XPS over the standard Dell laptop.
Since that time, I bought the two others, no doubt in my mind about spending the extra.
Just over a week ago, my wife's M1330, after 10 months of stellar duty being her main laptop, decided to freeze and display vertical striped lines. Of course it was the evening before I was due to travel to CA, but I tried various things nevertheless. Always the machine would come up and after a couple of minutes (or 20, it was never regular or predictable) freeze again. I upgraded the BIOS and the display drivers (I was lucky in those cases!), to no avail. In the end, I pulled the hard disk from the M1330 and put it into the M1210, reset the video driver, gave the laptop to her and promised to get it fixed once I was back.
Yesterday, I phoned up XPS tech support, and was again met with someone who just asked the minimal questions about the problem and what I'd done, diagnosed a faulty mobo (motherboard) and queued up a new one to be shipped. This time, an engineer would call round and install it.
Said engineer (hi, Matt!) popped round just now, less than 24 hours later, agreed with me that the mobo was hosed (this time, the screen didn't even come up) took out the old one, put in the new one, reset the Service tag, and went on his merry way. There was a moment when I thought the speakers weren't working, but Matt told me the drivers needed updating. In fact, in my haste at installing a trash OS on a spare hard disk yesterday, I'd forgotten to load the right drivers, and once that was done, the speakers worked as before. I quickly ran the diagnostics to make sure everything was OK.
So, I'd have to say, based on my two experiences, Dell's premium XPS services score very highly. If you are willing to pay a little more for the top of the line XPS laptops, you can rest assured that, not only are you getting a faster machine, but if something goes wrong, they're on the ball.
Crowded House - Four Seasons In One Day
(from Recurring Dream, Best Of Crowded House)