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Dell PCs hit high street

But are they better value than online models?

Dell laptop and desktop PCs are now available to buy on the high street after PC World announced today that it would be stocking a range of their machines, including the stylish XPS M1330 and Inspiron 1520, which won Best Buy awards in Shopper 239 and 237 respectively.

Although PC World claims to be the "first retailer in the UK to offer an extensive range of the latest Dell technology", they're actually not the first re-seller to stock Dell's products. Laptops Direct has been selling Dell notebooks since Boxing Day 2007.

Until this point, Dell has only sold PCs built to order and directly to its customers. The company has said previously that this direct model allows it to best understand and meet the needs of its customers; introduce the latest technology more quickly; and offer high-end systems at competitive prices.

The Dell PCs being sold though PC World have a fixed specification, without the customisation options Dell is well known for. PC World's website currently lists Dell's XPS M1330, XPS 1730 and Inspiron 1520 laptops, as well as the slimline Inspiron 530s desktop as being available to order.

PC World charges £750 for the Inspiron 530. We compared this price to Dell's own by selecting virtually identical specifications for the same base system on its website. The PC directly from Dell would cost £649, although it would come with a different 22in (rather than 20in) widescreen monitor, while PC World's version has 130GB more hard disk space. This benefit hardly seems worth an extra £101. The Inspiron 1520 laptop is no longer available directly from Dell, which has replaced it with the Inspiron 1525.

PC World's in-store help department, the TechGuys, will offer set-up advice, service, and support on all Dell PCs bought through the store. This, in combination with the convenience of being able to buy a Dell PC on the high street, makes PC World a simple option, although perhaps not a very economical one.

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