I bought a MacBook from Bic Camera Shinjuku Tokyo in Japan over five years ago. It still works all right, but for the past six months has been getting slower and slower in its reaction times, often requiring repeated clicking, particularly on webpages, to get a response, and requiring long waits while it "thinks." I tried some aggressively touted "speed up your Mac software" for about $30, but it didn't make an ounce of difference.
So I went looking for a replacement and settled on a Dell XPS 13, an ultrabook very similar in size and looks to the Mac Air, but cheaper - less than 100,000 yen, and even a little smaller in size than the Air. I was impressed with the Dell online support function where you can instantly chat with a representative before buying - which is probably what clinched my choice of a Dell.
Dell computers don't seem to be available in the big electronics stores in Japan, like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camara, or Labi. Anyway, I'm a confirmed online shopper, so ordering from the Dell Japan website seemed like the natural mode of purchase.
I ordered it on 12 September, keeping the options as basic as possible, except for the OS, for which I went with Windows 7 Ultimate, being the only one with multi-lingual OS choices. (However good my Japanese, working with an English-language OS will always be more intuitive.)
The progress of my order was trackable online using the Dell Japan account set up during the ordering process. The delivery date was actually set back two days at one stage, but all the delivery information was provided online and it arrived on the specified date and at the specified time. The Sagawa Kyubin courier delivered my new Dell XPS 13 last night: two weeks and a day after I'd ordered it, which seemed a bit long, but the desktop PC was always there as an alternative when my Mac got too slow.
The best thing about the XPS13 for me is its combination of extraordinarily compactness and lightness (a little more compact, even, than the MacBook Air) with a keyboard experience that doesn't feel cramped at all. The keyboard is backlit - something I couldn't have done without after the MacBook, and is effortless to type on.
Windows 7 Ultimate is a slick operating system with that future feel, and the Dell comes with FastAccess face recognition software that, after a short learning curve, obviates typing in your password. The XPS 13 has a solid-state drive (SSD) meaning there are no moving parts, making for an almost eerily silent computing experience. There have been no issues with fan noise that I had read about online. All is silent sleekness and lightning quickness. Set up was easy. All updates (about 150MB worth!) downloaded automatically and problem-free.
I have yet to work out how to get the top left hand button on the keyboard to toggle between Japanese and English when I have selected English as the OS language, so have reverted to Japanese as the OS language for the time being.
The Cypress trackpad on the XPS13 takes some getting used to after the Mac. Clicking it in the middle makes it right-click. You have to click it either on the right or the left - but that's probably goes without saying for Windows users.
The only somewhat regrettable thing about the XPS13 is its somewhat low-resolution screen. Beside my Mac Book, it is a bit like cathode ray tube vs HD LCD. However, it was almost half the price of my Mac Book.
Like any ultrabook, the XPS13 has no CD/DVD slot, so I realized after I got it that I needed an auxiliary CD/DVD drive in order to install, for example, Microsoft Office.
So, that's the Dell Japan experience as I know it - at least to begin with. Ready and friendly realtime online service; slow but reliable delivery, with delivery progress trackable online; and a product that ticks all the boxes, with style.
Guide Books on Tokyo & Japan