Recently, I had the opportunity to get my hands on System 76's Pangolin Performance laptop, and I must admit, this machine is the single most powerful laptop I've ever laid eyes on -- period. The CPU, dedicated NVIDIA graphics, sound card and high-definition display provide a fantastic enterprise-level desktop replacement machine. It's sleek despite its obvious size, plus it's fast--really fast.
Dell's laptop offerings lack anything that compares to this.
If you're a Ubuntu enthusiast looking to find a serious desktop replacement, Dell isn't going to have a pre-installed solution for you. Quite honestly, I wasn't even able to find a 17-inch Dell with a 3rd-gen i7 CPU that remotely came close to the Pangolin in the enterprise/Windows section of Dell's website.
As things stand right now, I would say Dell has one Ubuntu-only product that is really worth looking into. I think its Sputnik project for their XPS ultrabook is exciting, but it's only one product.
In fact, Dell doesn't even provide a compelling catalog of PC products at this point. It needs a desperate refresh in the desktop tower department, and its other notebook products are terrible. Celeron CPUs, despite being the latest generation, aren't sexy or compelling from a purchasing perspective. Even Dell's own rating system rates their other notebooks as mediocre.
If Dell is serious about attracting new Linux-enthusiast customers, it needs to dedicate a portion of its site, perhaps a subdomain, to selling Ubuntu products properly. A complete refresh of their product line would be a good place to start. Bundle this refresh with some compelling page design and actual information on the software that Ubuntu provides, and we might actually begin to see Dell become relevant in the Ubuntu space.
Before anyone else brings this up in the comments below, yes, I realize that Dell's enterprise offerings are light years different from what home and small business customers experience. Sadly, though, this offers zero value to those of us who aren't enterprise customers. My advice to Dell is to step up or step off.
As I mentioned above, I have no quarrel with Dell's support of Microsoft Windows as their primary OS for their PCs. However, having notebooks priced at $300 and expecting to wow people is just sad. Worse is jumping from a $300 to $1449 price point with only three notebook options to choose from.
Long story short, Dell's not even on the Linux desktop radar, in my opinion, compared to competitors like System76, ZaReason and EmperorLinux. In the grand scheme of things, I simply don't see Dell winning over Windows converts or providing value to current Ubuntu users. As things stand now, Dell has one decent Ubuntu desktop-ready product -- one product only. Tie this together with the amazing lack of information on Ubuntu, and Dell isn't fooling anyone.