Dell's "business class" Chromebook gets good reviews

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$750 for an XPS13? In the UK they start at £850 - call it $1275 - which even with 20% sales tax would be a huge markup.

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Oh, that dollar/£ parity on tech stuff. The only two laptops I’ve ever bought new were both on visits to the States.


I’ve never quite understood how tech outfits maintain such crazy price discrepancies; or why the US always seems to be on the right side of them.

Shipping might be some small part of it(Pacific Rim -> US West Coast is a nice straight shot); but in-US prices are almost always identical from coast to coast; so clearly papering over differing shipping costs isn’t crippling; and (especially for business-class stuff) it’s not clear why the US would be seen as less willing and able to pay; nor is it clear how, in a commodified market like x86 PCs, they could avoid some local outfit importing more or less exactly the same Chinese ODM designs and selling them for less.

It’s unpleasant; but legally fairly obvious, how software and media outfits can pull off region-locked pricing: what they sell tends to be interchangeable only in a broad sense, and if you want a specific program/album/etc. there is only one seller; but if you want ‘a laptop’, Quanta, Foxconn, and their ilk will all sell you pretty much the same ones; and it’s not as though they won’t take euros or sterling, so how can Dell maintain that sort of price difference?

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The problem there is warranty. Now, I know the EU mandates 2 years warranty and that adds some cost, but I have never had a laptop fail within 2 years, and Acer used to offer 3 years warranty including accident protection of £100.

The reason I don’t buy from US vendors - Apple and Dell - is that basically for everybody else if you know where to go you can usually get a price which has less extortionate markup built in. For Dell I believe business fleet prices are very much lower than end user price, but I suspect that goes for their dollar prices too.

I have a Chromebook - Samsung 550 - which is heavily used, but unless Google can get its vendors to be more reasonable about UK prices I won’t be replacing it when support expires in 2017.

You should see the prices in Brazil, home of the world’s most expensive Macs (and the 5th most expensive Big Mac).

I know that Brazil is a world leader in crazy-expensive electronics; but isn’t that peculiarity substantially the product of punishingly high import duties, intended to foster a domestic manufacturing sector, with a side of the country’s relatively low marks on efficiency and governance? (Now, how they produce that many cows and still have the 5th-most expensive Big Mac, no clue).

I know that I see a lot of Portuguese on dealextreme and other Chinese sellers with limited interest in tedious ‘customs compliance’. Such sellers take the same casual approach regardless of where you order from(I can only assume that the Chinese export regulators don’t care; because the number of businesses sending ‘gifts’ of astonishingly low alleged value to random westerners shouldn’t take a rocket surgeon to notice).

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Yes and yes. Buying trinkets from China is fairly popular as most small, light, cheap-thing-inside packages slip through taxes. Doesn’t usually work with anything that doesn’t fit in padded envelope or looks to be worth more than about US$50 in the x-rays. The bottom line is that you pay no matter what, be it directly in the post office, indirectly at the store, or flying to Miami for shopping if you can afford it (don’t forget import taxes even then on anything over $500!).

The “foster a domestic manufacturing sector” makes it sound like Brazil designs and manufactures its own awesome electronics, cars, bicycles or whatever with all that protection from foreign competition, but no. Guess the year when airbags became obligatory in cars, for instance: 2014.

The notion was amply proven to be a failure way back in the 80s when imports were banned. The result was the whole country being behind in technology and people having no choice but to use shoddy, overpriced manufactured goods. “Imported” was the ultimate status symbol, and not much has changed, really.

Funny thing is that, say, Apple, Audi and a whole bunch of other multinationals get incentives to open local factories, arrive with great fanfare, use the cheaper labor to export things, and the cost of the now-not-imported-anymore products stay exactly the same. It seems a case of “if we can get away with it then why not”.

Sorry for the rant. It’s an old grievance.

It’s fair enough, Brazil certainly seems to be getting nothing but a few plants that mostly slap cases on almost-complete subassemblies from China for tax purposes; and paying ghastly prices for it; which is hardly a good deal. I was just contrasting Brazil’s endogenous and historical causes to the ‘nobody seems to know quite why; but Europe pays more’, which does not appear to be explained by VAT, warranty terms, or any other regulatory baggage; or the Austrailian case, where even the government occasionally makes noise about how much of a screwjob software pricing is.

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My vote is on plain old “getting away with it” being a universal constant. Who needs morals when you have cold hard cash instead?

Still going on:

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Oh, it’s worse than “going on”.

After kind of getting used to “everything priced in dollars is twice as expensive here (before taxes!)” in the last few years, it’s suddenly “scratch that, four times as expensive”. That currency value graph above is frankly terrifying from our perspective.

Ok, enough derailing from me.

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