Aug 4, 2014

Large touch screen laptops from Dell, HP and Toshiba

Apparently at the time of writing (August 2014) these are the only manufacturers offering 17.3" HD touch screen laptops in the USA.
Among them, only Dell also sells them in Italy/Europe, and at comparable cost!

I am interested to a high-performance PC for work, with the following ability: concurrently
  • editing about 4 documents with figures and equations, in office
  • browsing abouth 40 Internet tabs, including maps, videos, images, mail, calendar and address book
  • about 10 PDFs open (so slow!)
  • google desktop, google drive and dropbox, no antivirus
Among options, I have selected
  • Windows 8.1 64 bit
  • i7-4710HQ Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.50GHz) with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 processor - the Intel HQ vs the U processor favors overclocking (performance) versus low voltage (battery)
  • 16GB DDR3L 1600MHz (8GB + 8GB) ram
  • 1TB (5400rpm) Hybrid 8GB Serial ATA hard drive
  • AC 2x2 wifi, BT4.0 (867Mbps), backlit keyboard with numeric pad, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Blu-ray with SuperMulti DVD±R/RW Double Layer drive
  • at least 3 years of (standard extended) warranty (1 is the max standard base offered)
Excluding Office, antivirus and various accessories.

The form factor is gaming machine, but I do not care about the graphics card with dedicated memory, and the audio because I do no gaming at all.

In the race

Here are the customized PCs with shipping in about 5 business days or less.

The Dell Inspiron 17 7000 Series Touch configuration includes the 4510U processor (-performance), no Blu-ray, aluminum case, enhanced audio, 4 year enhanced warranty (+1 year and +accident protection), ships the next day and totals $1,468.99, with occasional coupons.

The selected model from HP is ENVY 17t Touch J1H37AV, includes fingerprint reader, dragon naturally speaking, 50GB of Box, Beast audio speakers, and totals $1461,98.

The selected model from Toshiba is Satellite S70-BBT2N23, with harman/kardon stereo speakers powered by DTS, aluminum case, and totals $1,538.99 ($1,459.98 with only 2 year of warranty already included at only $80, because international warranty valid in Italy will need to be purchased separately, duration: 4 year, approximate cost: €140, confirmation pending).

All costs before VAT of 6.25% for USA and 22% for Italy.
More on warranties in acquisto-pc-in-usa.html (in Italian, automatic translation available).

Discussion

Dell cons
  • has lower performance (low voltage processor)
  • considered poor construction in some reviews, particularly, erratic keyboard,
  • has only recently appeared in Italy (worst service?)
pros
  • ships soon
  • can be purchased in Italy at €1,278.00, or $1,715.00, Italian VAT included, with 4 year warranty including accidental damage
HP cons
  • USA warranty is not transferable to Italy
pros
  • costs less
  • has nice additional feature, cited above
  • favorable past experience with HP
Toshiba cons
  • USA included warranty not transferable, need for purchase again from Italy
pros
  • always failed to get a Toshiba, curious to try one
  • international warranty can be purchased (verification pending)

Conclusion

International warranty and extension has been the dominating selection criterion, because of the intrinsic complexity and risk of failure of laptop PCs.
  • Toshiba: information about warranty extension from Italy office never came (in August all offices close in Italy)
  • HP was known to not support models not sold in that country and most models are country specific (e.g. for the different keyboard)
And the winner is... Dell. Essentially not a choice, but the process of collecting all the necessary information was difficult.
Corporate purchasing for personal use, with educational promotion, on a tax free weekend August 16-17 2014, brought down the final price to $1,320 including a free Dell 7" tablet.

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