After seeing the announcements from CES all moving towards smaller, less-powerful UMPCs and MIDs, I realized that my earlier research was correct and that the Vye S37 was clearly the best fit for my needs. I placed my order late last week and received my unit on Saturday. I haven’t really spent much time actually using the Vye yet as most of my focus this weekend was on getting the system configured. This post will be my comments on the purchase process and I will soon add a post with my initial impressions of the system itself.
As I had mentioned in my earlier post, a key factor that attracted me to to the Vye was its use of a 2.5-inch hard drive and the assurance from the company that they could sell me a unit with 250GB of internal storage. The larger hard-drive added an additional $218.60 to the base system prices that were listed on their web site. This price came from the $168.60 price (including shipping) that Western Digital charged for the drive plus an additional $50 installation fee. I also went with the upgraded 2GB memory option. After reviewing the various OS choices, I ended up selecting Vye’s "no OS" option since their price difference for adding Windows Vista Home Premium was actually more than the price of the OEM edition of Vista Ultimate from Newegg.com. The total price of my system (including FedEx Saturday delivery) came to $1512.60.
My overall purchase experience was a bit of a mixed bag. Starting with a big positive, the sales/support representative that I worked with was very helpful and seemed genuinely very interested in making sure that my order was correctly and quickly fulfilled. In fact, my overall experience from a customer service standpoint was very positive. I was particularly impressed by the extra effort they went through to get the hard drive upgrade installed and the system ready to ship on Friday in order to get it out for delivery on Saturday.
My only real complaint in the area of customer service was that my initial inquiry regarding pricing and ordering procedure went unanswered for a couple days due to their staff being at CES. I do understand that they likely have a small staff and that attending that show is important for companies in that business, but they really should have made a better effort to continue responding to email inquiries from customers (and potential customers) while there. For a company in the business of selling mobile computers, it seems particularly unusual that they would be out of email communications during the show. At the very least, they certainly should have had an auto-responder sending an "out of office" message.
Some of the difficulty here came from my desire for a non-standard configuration. Since the 250GB hard drive isn’t a standard option, I was not able to use the standard shopping cart on their website to obtain pricing or place my order. Instead, they had to email me the total price for my order and then I ended up submitting payment through PayPal. This worked acceptably, but did slow down the process somewhat, particularly due to the limited staff availability.
It really strikes me that the Vye’s ability to take a larger hard drive than most other UMPCs on the market should be a key selling point for them. They really should start offering standard configurations with a variety of drives. At the minimum, I would think they should offer 100GB, 160GB and 250GB configurations in addition to the standard 120GB drive. I’d also think that some 7200 RPM options would be appropriate as well.
In addition to making the order process more complicated, the fact that a 250GB standard option isn’t available also added a fair amount to the cost. As noted previously, they charged a $50 "fitting fee" in addition to the price of the drive. Since they don’t keep the drive in stock, the cost also included the price of having Western Digital overnight ship the drive to Vye. Finally, I actually ended up paying for two hard drives with my purchase as they had no method in place for only charging me the difference between the drive that I purchased and the regular 120GB drive. The smaller drive was actually included in the shipping box with my unit and I’ll end up putting it in a USB enclosure and using it as an external drive.
Coming up: In my next post, I’ll give my initial impressions on the unit itself and describe my experiences getting it configured.