Dell's XPS One (PRODUCT) RED is a charitable rip off

The whole consumer motivation for (PRODUCT) RED is that a donation is made to those in need at no (obvious) additional expense to you. It's The Man who makes the donation, you're just pulling the trigger with the purchase of something presumably wanted anyway. But the (PRODUCT) RED XPS One confuses this whole system, at best. The RED XPS One costs an extra $300 over the regular XPS One's base configuration. For that, you do get a bump -- but it's software only. More specifically, your $300 premium upgrades you to Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 (found online for ~$100 or less) and Vista Ultimate (~$300 or less), instead of stock Microsoft Works 8.5 (~$15) and Vista Home Premium (~$200 or less).

Based on those retail prices, you're locked into almost $200 in add-ons that Dell and Microsoft will happily mark-up to $300 -- $80 of which is donated to the Global Fund. Never you mind that the full-featured Vista Ultimate (even with RED-themed desktops, screensaver, and widgets) adds very little value to the vast majority of home users when compared to Vista Home Premium. Or that Microsoft says that "Vista Home Premium is the preferred edition for home desktops." So why bother with Ultimate on the XPS One in the first place, except to up the perception of greater value? It's not like this all-in-one desktop will ever step foot inside of an enterprise cubicle. Our advice: save your $300 and just give some cash directly, it might work out better for your taxes anyway.

[Thanks, Justin M.]