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What is a "Name Brand" laptop?

03 March, 2005 in Laptops - General

Let's talk about the concept of 'Name Brand' as it applies to laptop computers.

Virtually none of the "Name" brands manufacture their own laptops, with about the only exceptions being Asus, MSI and Lenovo.

Instead, Multi-National Brands (MNB) like DELL, Toshiba, HP, Compaq, Acer and Sony buy their laptops pre-built from what is called an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM). Some of the largest ODMs are Quanta, Compal, Clevo, Wistron, Arima, and Inventec...most of these names are unknown by most laptop users.

The ODM designs the shell and motherboard, and then assembles them with the screen, keyboard, processor, memory, DVDRW and Hard Drive, battery, wireless and Bluetooth card, and then installs the Microsoft Operating System to produce the final laptop that is then labeled and sold to the MNBs (who are sometimes erroneously called OEMs...erroneously because they rarely if ever touch the laptop until after it is completely built, labeled and boxed).

The MNB only advertises, sells and supports (usually outsourcing support to foreign companies) their "branded" laptop, and when warranty repair is required they will usually send it back to the ODM or some other 3rd party repair center instead of doing the warranty work themselves. They never built it, and they are not really equipped to do repairs.

This is the "Tier One" MNB life cycle for laptops. Over the last few years laptops sales have had tremendous growth, and one of the things we are now seeing is that the MNBs are pitting the ODMs against each other in competition for huge contracts. These contracts can be won or lost based on pricing differences of less than a dollar per unit. However that less than a dollar per unit difference can be HUGE. For example, 56 cents times 1,000,000 units = $560,000.00. The sad thing is that as a result of this fierce competition, quality in MNB laptops is going down.

The life cycle of the "Channel" custom built laptop is quite different. The Channel includes the true OEM custom builders like Sager and PowerNotebooks.com.

While we still buy our shells from ODMs like Compal, Clevo, ASUS and MSI, we don't buy the stripped down models that the MNBs do. We buy what is sometimes referred to as the "ODM's Pride". These are the fully featured models with high resolution screens, powerful video cards (even dual cards in SLi), high end processors up to the Extreme, and up to 3 hard drives in RAID...try to find these specs in a MNB laptop at BestBuy!

We then custom build the laptop to our customer's specifications chosen from all of the different component options we offer, giving our customers the choice of which Operating system they want, including NO Operating System at all.

We also offer Free 24/7/364 DOMESTIC Telephone Customer Support (over my dead body will it EVER go to a foreign company), and we do all of the warranty repairs in the same factory that BUILT the laptop using factory trained technicians, with factory replacement parts that are on our shelves (well, most of the time anyway...occasionally we have to order in parts from the ODM), and we pay for AIR shipping both ways.

Hmmm, maybe that is why at ResellerRatings, the most popular Internet Customer Service Ratings website, PowerNotebooks.com has a Lifetime Customer Service rating of 9.96/10 while MNBs like DELL, HP, Gateway, and Sony all have scores of less than 5.5/10.

Well, you get the idea.

Some call this the "Dirty little secret of the Laptop Industry".

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