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XPS 700s are out the door, and Dell asks for some faith

XPS 700s are out the door, and Dell asks for some faith

OK, so maybe it took longer than an hour and a half. At least it's not October.

I finally have some more information on the Dell XPS 700 after talking with Dell's Liem Nguyen this afternoon. The delay in my follow-up to yesterday's blog post is because a) the Dell folks we met with in person yesterday didn't have any new information on the XPS 700 (they were here for a review process meeting, nothing juicy), and b) I actually spoke to Liem yesterday afternoon, but he wanted 24 hours to do some digging.

Here's what he told me today:
--Dell started shipping Pentium D-based XPS 700 systems yesterday.
--Core 2 Duo-based XPS systems will start to ship next week.
--Dell will add the GeForce 7950 GX2 3D card to its XPS 700 configurator in "a couple of weeks."

That's all good stuff, but it doesn't answer my main question, which was: In addition to upgrading the CPUs, what will Dell do for those who ordered an XPS 700 thinking it would come with one of the fastest 3D cards around, only to find that 3D setup a step or two behind by the time they receive it?

I pressed Liem on this point, and all he was able to tell me is that Dell will be in touch over the phone and via e-mail with its XPS 700 customers whose orders have been delayed, which will give you the opportunity to alter your order or cancel it altogether. Liem was not able to elaborate on the far-term config possibilities due to nondisclosure agreements tied to unannounced products, nor would he get into the specifics of pricing or other details on the GeForce 7950 GX2s. Liem finished by saying that he'd be in touch with further developments as he can.

Again, not a lot of concrete info. My take is this: If you find out that your delayed XPS 700 will ship this month, and after Dell has added the GeForce 7950 GX2 cards, I would expect you to be able to swap out two GeForce 7900 GTX cards for a single GeForce 7950 GX2 (which, compared to two 7900 GTXs is basically as fast, takes up less space, and uses less power) and several hundred dollars off the original quoted price. I would not expect to exchange the cards one-for-one or two-for-two, because a single 7950 GX2 is more expensive than a single GeForce 7900 GTX. If you find out that your system will arrive in September or October and Dell has added other cards to its XPS 700 configurator by then, I expect that Dell will keep you informed and give you the ability to upgrade to an equivalently priced 3D card for no extra charge, if there is a card of the same price available at the time of your reconfiguration.

In my mind, Dell needs to be fair with the value of a config based on the time that it's purchased, and adjust accordingly if there's a significant, unexpected delay in the time in which it is received. Without being specific as to how, Liem assured me that Dell would act responsibly in this regard. So he, and thus Dell, are on the record. If Dell doesn't live up to reasonable customer expectations, I hope that the XPS 700 customers who have been thus far disappointed will continue to light up our comments section and Dell's own Direct2Dell blog and make your frustrations known. You can be sure we'll be staying on top of the situation as well. I'm going to leave the review score as it stands, but if things deteriorate, you can bet we'll take a second look.