Dell just came out with a new notebook computer that it is claiming is “the thinnest 15-inch PC on the planet”.
Advertisements sent by Dell via email and on their website in the U.S. look like this:
According to the London Guardian, however, the advertisement a reporter saw there in an unnamed UK newspaper, but did not include in his story, had a little asterisk after the claim. To our trusty mouse, asterisks are like cheese, so he hunted through newspaper after newspaper in the UK to find the suspect ad. And he found it! In an Internet exclusive, here it is (pictured below) and in a fuller view here .
The hard to read disclaimer says:
“Based on Dell internal analysis as at February 2011. Based on a thickness comparison (front and rear measurements) of other 15″ laptop PCs manufactured by HP, Acer, Toshiba, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, MSI. No comparison made with Apple or other manufacturers not listed.”
Taking a page from the advertising tactics that we have reported on here, Dell omits computers in the comparison that might actually be thinner than their own. That is like Alamo claiming they are the biggest rental car company* (*if you don’t count Hertz and Avis).
In this case, they exclude Apple, among others. The Apple Macbook Pro is 0.95 inches thick, while the Dell laptop is actually a hair larger at 0.97 inches thick.
From a legal standpoint, Dell is using a hyper-technical definition of “PC”, which in many circles refers to an IBM compatible computer as opposed to a Mac. (Remember the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” commercials?) Where the company may have a problem is in its press release, email ads, and website, where it repeats the thinnest claims but does not include any disclaimers.
Does the 0.02-inch extra thickness of this Dell laptop really matter? Of course not. The problem is their use of a tricky claim to proclaim something that really isn’t true.
Thanks to Mark Young for the tip on this story.